Hard apple cider is becoming a trend and a drink of choice for a lot of young and health-conscious consumers, and a local version is finally here in Manila. At the recent product launch of Manila Cider Co. at Bar Mathilde in Pobacion, Makati, we caught up with the three gentlemen behind Manzana Cider—Luis Sia (Chief Executive Officer), Vance Ching (Chief Operating Officer), and Martti Uy (Chief Marketing Officer)—who talked about the inspiration behind the first local hard apple cider.

“It’s a growing business in many countries such as the U.K, United States, South Africa, and Australia, so we thought, why not bring it here in the Philippines?” says Sia, who shares that the whole concept was conceived during his travels abroad where he got acquainted with cider. “It’s a drink that really fits the Filipino palate: it’s smooth, easy to drink, and it’s very casual. We started production early this year and now we’re very pleased to finally present it to the public.”

Cider’s popularity around the globe may have waned in the past, but it’s been making a huge comeback through drinking festivals in the United States such as Pour the Core and New York Cider Week. This has prompted a remarkable effect in the global beer market. The resurgence of cider has created a halo effect, forcing other alcoholic beverage brands to diversify. Consumers have also been comparing the many health benefits of cider compared to the composition of a regular beer. For instance, cider is gluten-free, and that is a huge setback for other beer brands who don’t offer that kind of option.

“If you’re allergic to gluten, this is the drink for you,” Martti Uy says.

Manzana Cider is the first local hard apple cider to hit the market

What’s so special about this drink aside from the fact that it screams hipster? Well, everything is attributed to its ingredients. Hard cider and beer are miles apart in terms of composition. Hard cider is made from a combination of yeast and apples. Having natural ingredients such as fruits will give you vitamins and minerals plus antioxidants to flush out harmful toxins in your body. A regular beer, on the other hand, is free of fruit juice, therefore the nutritional value looks different from that of cider. But to be fair, beer’s composition contains yeast, hops, barley, and whole grains, which also deliver antioxidants and nutrients to our body. Some beers may offer more protein, vitamin B, and folate than wine or cider. So both cider and beer have their pros and cons; you just really have to choose which appeals to your taste and lifestyle.

A bottle of Manzana cider costs P210.

The only downside of hard cider is the sugar content. While beers are naturally sugar-free (if not, sugar is added in small quantities to balance the sourness), cider on the other hand, can be quite high in sugar. The popular hard cider brands in the U.S. usually carry a wide range of sugar components such as Crispin’s 15g (three teaspoons) per serving, and Angry-Orchard-Crisp Apple’s 23 grams of sugar (which is about seven teaspoons of sweetness). The addition of sugar is a direct result of the hard cider’s fermentation process. Luckily, there’s what you call the “Dryer Cider” option which contains less sugar and higher alcohol content, and Manzana cider is definitely on the bad boy side with its 6% ABV.

“Since we were able to increase the alcohol content, the sugar content is down as well. And other ciders probably taste a lot sweeter because they’ve added artificial sweeteners but with our product, we made sure to keep it as natural as possible, so if you’re on a certain diet, this is the good stuff for you,” Martti explains.

Vance Ching (COO), Martti Uy (CMO), and Luis Sia (CEO)

No doubt, Manzana cider is delicious. It has the perfect blend of fruity taste and sourness but it’s definitely lighter than a regular beer. No wonder it’s getting a lot of attention from younger drinkers and even the much older crowd who are constantly seeking thrills. As the first locally made hard apple cider, Manzana cider has practically brought a global trend straight to our doorstep.

“Hard apple cider is a popular drink in the States, but here in Manila, we really need to get the word out there. One common problem we regularly encounter is that people thought we’re selling vinegar,” says Martti when asked about their initial challenges of marketing the product.

After we tried Manzana at their launch party, our verdict was quite simple: If you want something a little sweeter than beer and less alcoholic than hard liquor, then go with Manzana Cider. It’s the perfect escape from the usual malty and bitter taste of beer. The natural sweetness and flavor makes it stand out.

“The sweet flavor is from the natural sweetness of apple, rendering a very simple fermentation process: using 100% apple juice and yeast. Traditional ciders contain 4% all the way to 8% alcohol content, while ours is 6%. So what we’ve created here is something that’s easy to drink but with the right punch. We thought that 6% is the right amount that will give you a buzz. Unlike beers, where a few bottles make you feel bloated without feeling tipsy. With Manzana, you get drunk without feeling heavy… and guilty. The best thing about it also is that you can drink it anytime and anywhere, no judgments,” Vance concludes.

Seph is a self-confessed extroverted introvert. He loves food but he’s always on a diet. He likes getting drunk but complains the next day and vows not to drink ever again, but he’d repeat the same thing over and over. Professionally, he does public relations work for brands like Sperry, Keds, and Skechers. In his own perfect world, he would have wanted to be a travel photographer – to take photos and to meet new people.

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