By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Hard apple cider — it dates back to Johnny Appleseed and was a colonial favorite.

Now, it’s making a comeback.

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“We started back six years ago in 2010 before cider was doing what it’s doing now, and people thought we were crazy doing it because who’s going to drink cider,” recalls Michelle Larkin.

With her husband Bill, Larkin was the first locally to make and market hard cider through their Arsenal Cider House in Lawrenceville.

Hard cider is suddenly the rage.

“I figured that in our row house basement we’d be able to produce about 5,000 gallons a year,” says Bill Larkin. “Last year, we produced 25,000 gallons. This year, I think we’re going to hit about 32,000 gallons.”

Hard cider as an alcoholic alternative to beer or wine has become so popular locally that Pittsburgh is ranked number three nationally for the most hard cider consumption.

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“We must drink a lot,” says Bill, laughing.

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No surprise.

The Pennsylvania Cider Guild says this state is the nation’s fourth largest producer of apples.

After adding the right ingredients to the apple juice, it takes about two months for the fermentation to yield all kinds of hard cider, many with a higher alcohol content than craft beer.

Besides their own location in Lawrenceville, Arsenal Cider is now sold in 120 bars across the region, another sign that hard apple cider has taken off.

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“Pittsburgh is booming right now,” says Michelle.