Skip to main content

Everything You Need To Know About Pear Ciders

When it comes to cider, apples bask in all of the glory. But there’s a sibling cider made from a like-minded fruit that can yield a hard beverage as good or better.

Pear cider, affectionally called perry, is a refreshing sip of autumn. As a relatively new American drink, bottles still have to be sniffed out stateside. Across the pond in Europe where it was first fermented a couple of hundred years ago, pear cider is quite popular. Countries like Spain, England, and France take great pride in the stuff and have for generations. Today, there’s an entire culture built around European perry. 

While the Romans dabbled in pear winemaking way, way back it wasn’t until the late 16th century that pear cider as we know it took off. It was first prepared in the fertile stretches of western England and by the time the country was in the midst of a civil war, pear cider became a go-to drink, especially among soldiers. Future skirmishes with neighboring nations like France (with its seemingly endless pipeline of booze, namely wine) caused an uptick in domestic English perry production. Quite simply, hooch had to be had and pears grew well in the temperate U.K. climate.

In the states, pear cider is growing in popularity, if only moderately. We’re seeing more research on methods from key institutions like Washington State University and Oregon State University, a pair of major agricultural schools set in the orchard-friendly Pacific Northwest. And the fruit thrives elsewhere, too, like parts of the Midwest and the Northeast, where a budding number of producers are trying their hands at the lesser-known cider.

It’s not always called pear cider, perry, or even pear Champagne. In France, it’s called poire while in Spain it goes by sidra de peras. In terms of what’s in the bottle, it’s always mostly pear juice, with most countries allowing for up to 25% apple juice to be blended in. Like hard apple ciders, pear ciders will often incorporate seasonal ingredients like berries or certain herbs and spices. 

In terms of method, it’s almost exactly like apple cider. The juice is pressed, often with a traditional rack-and-cloth press, the liquid is fermented (often naturally), and the result is aged briefly. Just like its apple-based cousin, pear cider revolves around a number of different varieties, selected for their varying flavors and tannic components. These are not the sweet pears you’re used to eating fresh. Instead, these tend to be smaller, brighter, sometimes too-bitter-to-eat heirloom varieties that make far better cider than anything else.

Next time you reach for a cider, try a pear version just to shake things up. The flavors can at times be deeper and more memorable than you’d expect. Keep your eyes peeled for special perry imports in the cider section of your favorite bottle shop. Here are three we strongly suggest you try to get a feel for the category.

Finnriver Farm Perry

Finnriver Perry Bottle Shot
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Bottled like wine in the elegant 750-ml format, this perry from Washington state is crafted from four different pear varieties. It shows citrus and dried fruit, with a lasting touch of sweetness reminiscent of honeycomb. The cidery suggests goat cheese, grilled chicken, or antipasti for pairing.

Samuel Smith Organic Perry

Sam Smith Organic Perry Bottle Shot
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Based in the U.K., Samuel Smith has become something of an iconic brewery specializing in organic offerings. The perry is rich despite a moderate alcohol content (5% ABV) and is countered by a nice, brisk crispness. It’s refreshing enough on its own and has enough depth to pair with lighter fare.

Blackduck Cidery Perry

Blackduck Perry Bottle
Blackduck Perry/Facebook

This New York outfit operates out of the wine-centric Finger Lakes region. Blackduck’s flagship perry is nicely balanced, with noticeable tropical fruit notes and made in the ancestral way. It’s an off-dry beauty waiting to be enjoyed.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
Everything you need to know about the Atkins diet
Your complete guide to the weight loss diet
A bowl of a keto-friendly dish on a table.

Many of us set great fitness goals but face the common hurdle of selecting the best diet plan to support these aspirations. You know the health outcomes that you’re aiming for, but there are so many popular diet plans to choose from that you’re unsure of where to start. Think of the foods you like to eat, but also the foods that would be most healthful to eat on this journey.

Another factor is the ever-changing perception of what is healthy and what is not. Fad diets have come and gone, but some have stuck because of the results generated, like the Atkins diet. 

Read more
What is sake? We break down everything you need to know
You know of sake and have probably even enjoyed it. But do you know what sake is?
Pouring sake

By now, you've surely heard of sake. It's that moderately boozy drink you get at sushi restaurants, sometimes in a two-for-one special during happy hour. Sometimes it's served hot, and sometimes it's served cold, and you really like the little cups you drink it out of because they are absolutely charming.

Are we tracking correctly so far? Figured. So, you like sake, but do you actually know what it is?

Read more
You need to try this Peking duck prepared 3 ways
Golden Wuish in New York City is preparing Peking duck in an innovative fashion: flambéed, smoked, and in a soup.
Golden wuish duck flambe

Peking duck at Golden Wuish being flambéed. goldenwuishnyc/Instagram

A whole Peking duck, perfectly roasted and bronzed, is one of the most prized culinary dishes in Chinese cuisine. Like China itself, the dish is ancient. It's been mentioned as far back as the 14th century, and Henry Kissinger famously enjoyed it on several State Department visits to China during the 1960s and 1970s.

Read more