Book Review: “The Cider Insider”

Susanna Forbes named her cidery “Pomona” for the Roman goddess of fruit trees and the orchard and “like her [they] determinedly guard and nurture our apple trees.” This same spirit can be found in Susanna’s US Publication of “The Cider Insider.” This collection of summaries of 100 craft ciders from around the world is great for those who are cider curious who want to go beyond the grocery store aisle.  

“The Cider Insider” is both for beginners and for enthusiasts; an easy to digest book that serves as a fantastic reference point, regardless of your level of cider knowledge. The book is designed to tell the cidery’s and cidermaker’s story, help the reader understand more about the cider (or perry) and provide useful suggestions on other ciders one may enjoy.

The book is separated into six cider producing regions: 4 chapters dedicated to Europe, 1 to USA and Canada, and the final chapter is for Australia, New Zealand, & South Africa. Each chapter begins with an overview of the cider history, apples, and places to explore. Susanna then highlights several ciders from each region. In the US, for example, Susanna highlights ciders from the West Coast, Midwest, and East Coast. Being in Chicago gives us access to several of the ciders featured in the book including “Red Cider” from Snowdrift and “Melded” from Uncle John’s which we enjoyed at the Northman.

I really appreciate the time Susanna has spent to get to know the cideries and cidermakers and she beautifully translates that passion into each entertaining summary. The simple sketches of each cider, which infuses a playful spirit into the book, the Cider & Perry flavor guide (with approachable terms such as “Bright & Fresh”), and the unique glossary (not just definitions, but it also includes useful information such as a quick primer on how to make cider) are what makes this book stand out from other cider reference books. Overall, this cider book is a definite must-have for all cider lovers.