Kelly’s Irish Traditional Hard Cider was started in 1997 by Brendan Daly and John Cronin. Daly, from Dublin, had worked for a large drinks company at Tipperary, doing quality assurance and product development. Cronin, from Kerry, was a pub owner at Listowel. Daly made hard cider in Tipperary for several years before starting Kelly’s Irish Traditional Hard Cider. Both Daly and Cronin had previously lived in the USA, and knew of the growing demand for cider here. Kelly’s Irish Traditional Hard Cider is now bottled by the Florida Beer Company at Melbourne, Florida.
Kelly’s Irish Traditional Hard Cider is fermented from the juice of four different traditional apple varieties. Unlike other hard ciders, it does not use artificial orange coloring. It is currently sold in four states, and is available in bottles and 15.5 gallon kegs. Their cider brewing efforts have been very successful and they won a “Best Cider” award from the Brewers Association in 2007.
The early settlers in America once enjoyed hard cider in large quantities. In the 19th century, American hard cider consumption topped 50 million gallons. Large quantities continued to be consumed, even after German immigrants introduced their lager beers, right up until Prohibition ended the production of hard cider in the USA. Old established orchards of bittersweet cider apples were then cut down, and farmers switched to other crops. After the repeal of Prohibition, cider never made a big comeback. Beer companies successfully lobbied to have a lower tax on beer than on cider, and farmers found that they could grow beer barley and hops much more quickly than cider apples. A productive orchard of bittersweet cider apples takes many years to grow to a productive level. Consequently, beer quickly became the #1 drink of choice in the USA.
However, a renewed demand for hard cider began in the 1980’s, when thousands of young Irish came to live in the USA. These young immigrants began drinking hard cider, first in bars in New York, Boston, Chicago and other “Irish” cities. Cider became well-established in the Irish market. From this core Irish market, cider was re-introduced to American consumers and has grown in popularity ever since. It is especially popular during hot summer days and around holidays.