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American makers of hard cider just got a sweet deal as part of the $1.1 trillion federal budget deal passed by Congress. A bipartisan group of lawmakers from states including Pennsylvania and Oregon, with burgeoning craft-cider industries, successfully inserted the Cider Act in the bill Congress passed before Christmas.
Hard-cider brewers will now face lower taxes and simplified regulations. Brewers will be able to produce ciders with higher levels of alcohol and carbonation, without triggering higher tax rates like those applied to wines.
These changes are likely to boost sales, which have been rising in recent years, said analyst Jim Hertel at food-retail consultancy Willard Bishop.
“It’s the premium mainstream beers that are really being challenged — both by craft beers and ciders,” said Hertel.
He doesn’t think champagne will face any significant competition from upstart ciders in coming years, though. Hertel said cider is more likely to appeal to younger consumers and those on a modest budget.