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Hard cider: The next craft brew?

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Holiday celebrants seem to be turning more to hard cider to get tipsy this season, as sales of the segment soared 25% over the year.

The booze, once struggling to compete with alcoholic lemonade brands such as Smirnoff, is on the upswing due to its appeal for women and for drinkers looking for something different, according to Advertising Age.

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The juice-based alcohol could benefit from a surge in interest in premium spirits and craft brews, which aficionados suspect have caused beer-makers such as Anheuser-Busch to roll out new offerings such as Bud Light Platinum.

Cider is still dwarfed by beer and wine sales, but providers such as Vermont Hard Cider Co. have helped pump revenue up to $49.6 million in 2011, according to grocery sales tracker SymphonyIRI. The liquor is already popular abroad in markets such as Europe and Australia.

Alcohol spending in general is set for a boost in 2012, according to research group Technomic, which found that wine sales will be up 3.5%, beer will increase 2.2% and spirits will rise 2.3%.

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-- Tiffany Hsu


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