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Why Do We Need Hard Cider For Men?

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Hard cider is a golden, sweet spot in a gloomy beer industry.

According to market research firm Symphony IRI, cider sales in the U.S. increased 81% by volume and 84% by revenue in 2012. Before that, it made up just 1% of the overall beer market. Last year, it was up 103% through November. That's better than the low double-digit percentage growth of craft beer during the same span and far better than the overall beer market, which has declined in four of the past five years.

As Nomura Research has pointed out, cider also sells for an average $35 a case compared with $20 for light lager such as Bud and Coors Light, $29 per case paid for imported beers and $33 for craft beer. At a time when Nielsen notes that men make up 72% of the beer market while women make up just 28% of beer consumers, the fact that cider is consumed in equal proportions by both genders should be a great thing, right?

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Nope. With big brewers Anheuser-Busch InBev and SAB Miller/MolsonCoors joint venture MillerCoors pushing their way into the cider market, there's one big item missing from the nation's cider cellar:

Dude cider.

Yes, even with cider sales producing gender parity that has long escaped the beer market, the big brewers are wondering how to tilt the scales again and bring in the bros. This month, MillerCoors is introducing its Smith & Forge line of ciders that's packaged in 16-ounce cans, includes ever-so-subtle hammer icons in its labeling and makes the argument that a cider isn't "manly" unless its apples have been melted in a blast furnace.

"Now hard cider is exploding again, but the sweetness of many current ciders can be a turn off to beer drinkers, and some of them are looking instead to spirits and crafts for variety," said David Kroll, MillerCoors vice president of insights and innovation, in the cider's introductory press release. "Smith & Forge is a strong, just-sweet-enough hard cider that encourages guys to discover -- or rediscover -- the world of hard cider."

There are a few things wrong here, and not by a small margin. First off, we already told you that Nielsen has recorded a roughly 50-50 split between male and female cider drinkers. The guys don't need to "discover -- or rediscover" anything. Secondly, MillerCoors already has a cider in its stable that should be bringing in the guys without going into the Maxim/SpikeTV treatment of a decade ago. Back in 2012, MillerCoors bought Minneapolis-based Crispin Hard Cider for a reported $40 million and shoved it into its Tenth & Blake craft division that includes Blue Moon and Leinenkugel's.

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