We discover how Dan Ritsema, Co-Founder of Cranes in Cambridgeshire, created a health-conscious alcoholic drink with his twin brother.
Back in 2012, twins Dan and Ben were living student life to the full. Enjoying going out for drinks with friends, the pair were also conscious of their health and fitness, and began to wonder whether there could be a healthier alternative to the sugary alcoholic beverages they usually drank on a night out.
Already aware of the health benefits of cranberries as a super food, the pair looked into possibility of fermenting them to create a fruit cider. Known for their antioxidant properties, as well as being an excellent source of vitamins C, E and K, cranberries seemed the ideal option.
Acknowledging that alcohol could never completely be deemed a healthy choice, the twins looked at reducing the sugar content of their cider, as this is what increases the calorie count of the majority of fruit ciders on the market. Leading brands use 51 teaspoons of sugar, whereas Dan and Ben decided to use 5 teaspoons of sweetener made from stevia leaf to ensure the product remained 100% natural.
Brewing the cider in demijohns, their first year after graduation was a test period for the business. ‘We bottled the cider by hand and it was during this time, in 2013, that we realised the concept worked,’ explained Dan, ‘The alcohol industry is very traditional, so it was brave to start an innovative new product, however it was very well received and people loved the concept. People always love something different and it has worked out for us.’
The brothers decided to name their company Cranes after discovering that cranberries were originally named ‘craneberries’ by Americans in the 17th Century due to the small, pink blossoms resembling the head and bill of a Sandhill crane.
Now producing the cider from a farm in Cambridgeshire, the business has been going from strength to strength. Importing the finest cranberries from Wisconsin USA, the frozen berries are then crushed and fermented on site before the cider is transported to be bottled at the Brothers Cider factory in Somerset, where the liquid is pasteurised and accredited for the supermarket shelves.
Offering their customers three refreshing flavours for summer, Raspberry and Pomegranate, Strawberry and Kiwi and Original Cranberry, the drinks contain 4% alcohol and just 99 calories. Made using 16.5% fruit juice, the twins have succeeded in making a tasty, health-conscious alcoholic drink that has the same great flavour, with less calories and sugar, that we can enjoy guilt free this summer.