Belgium is not only popular for its beers, but also for another century old drink: cider. To understand how it is made, we travelled to Aubel – about an hour drive from Bruxelles – and we met with the Stassen family, who produces cider since several generations.
Aubel is famous for its butchers, cheesemakers, and cider and beer breweries. An open-air market is held in the centre of Aubel every Tuesday and Sunday morning. A weekly market has been in continuous existence since 1630. Today the Stassen family owns a 40,000-square metre area and makes about 40 millions litres of cider per year, including the popular Strongbow Gold, being one of the major cider producers in Europe with exports all over the world. Such a huge production requires about 35,000 tons of apples every year.
To grant constant apple supply, the Stassens signed with over twenty farmers, for several hundreds of groves. Half of them are in Belgium, in the Liegi province, while the rest are in Northern France.
What is cider? Cider is an alcoholic drink obtained through the complete or partial fermentation of apple juice. The alcohol strength can range from 1.2 to 8.5 percent. It can be still or sparkling, and it can be flavoured with several fruits. The cider’s homeland is Great Britain, where it was already made with wild apples 5000 years ago.
Cider is a nice alternative to beer, especially if you prefer something sweet and refreshing. And in Aubel there is a large choice of different kinds of cider in any pub: non-alcoholic, pear flavoured, with lime, rosé… even kids may have their share!
For further information about cider: StrongbowGold.com or StrongbowGold’s Facebook page.