Coronado Cider

San Diego–based Coronado Brewing Company is launching California’s first USDA-certified organic canned cider line. The new brand, Coronado Hard Cider, will release its first two flavors, Nice & Dry and Super Fruit Cider, in their tasting rooms and across select San Diego retailers starting the first week in December before rolling out throughout California in early 2022.

Coronado’s chief commercial officer, Clinton Smith, says diversification of the brewery’s output beyond beer and hard seltzer is both in response to changing consumer habits as well as a continued increase in demand for organic consumables. 

“A lot of our team finds cider to be artisan—it's tried and true,” says Smith, explaining that although hard cider’s current share of the beverage market is much smaller than craft beer, it’s been a part of the United States’ craft legacy for hundreds of years. “It’s not some new thing that’s potentially a new fad. It’s been around.”

Smith says research and development for the new brand have been in the works for around two years: longer than they originally anticipated, with plenty of pandemic-related bumps along the way. After getting Coronado’s cider facility officially certified USDA Organic in early 2021 and procuring a consistent supply of organic juice, the next step was determining the flagship flavors.

At 6 percent ABV, Smith says Nice & Dry is their more traditional cider: a dry, effervescent expression of fruit that finishes crisp and clean without any sulfites or added sugar. Super Fruit Cider is a semisweet cider bolstered by acai and blueberries that comes in at 5.5 percent ABV. All of their ciders are gluten-free, vegan, and free of preservatives to ensure organic compliance.

Launching with just two flavors was intentional, according to Smith. “We want to make sure people really understand how serious we are about this”—especially longtime Coronado fans who may or may not already be looking for alternatives to beer. “But we recognize there are cider drinkers who are very passionate about it. To be successful, we have to get that cider drinker and go all in. We can’t just be a brewery who slaps our logo on a cider.”

Head brewer Mark Theisen, along with former cider maker and craft beverage consultant Brent Miles, is spearheading the new brand. With Theisen’s extensive experience in Coronado’s brewhouse coupled with Miles’s background in producing and launching new cider brands, “We’re now at a point where we feel we can produce some of the best cider not just in the state, but nationally,” Smith claims. “If you’ve had a chance to try our beers and you enjoyed them, I’m very confident you’ll be happy with the cider we produce. And if you haven’t tried our beers and just like good cider, give us a shot. We put a lot into this.”

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Beth Demmon is a freelance writer, journalist, and BJCP beer judge from San Diego. She received the North American Guild of Beer Writers 2019 Diversity in Beer Writing grant and is the beer columnist at San Diego Magazine.

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