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There's no question Americans love beer. But now, it seems,they've taken a shine to a spirited newcomer, alcoholic cider.Call us stir crazy, if you must. But judging by the current demandfor "hard cider"-which typically packs an alcohol contentof 4 percent to 6 percent-we expect more pubs and supermarkets tojump on the cider bandwagon.

"We're kind of tagging onto the microbreweryscene," says Kevin Settles, 37, president and founder ofSelkirk Cider Co., a Sandpoint, Idaho, company that sells apple,pear and raspberry cider under the Seven Sisters label."There's not a whole lot of radically new items that cancome out on the beer scene, and people don't want to drink thesame thing for very long. They're always looking for somethingnew, and we really fit that category."

Settles, who launched Selkirk Cider nine years ago, took thebeverage road less traveled after learning of the tremendouspopularity of hard cider in Europe. The risk paid off: SelkirkCider is projected to ship 40,000 cases of cider in 1996-triplelast year's production.

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