Strongbow is said to be the UK's most popular cider, accounting for more than half of the cider sales in Britain. It is also unique among ciders in that it is produced with a Royal Warrant.
Unlike real ciders, Strongbow is mass-produced using modern methods, and contains apple concentrate, sugar, a controlled yeast strain, sulphites and some varieties are flavoured with artificial sweeteners.
The alcoholic strength of Strongbow Cider in the UK and Canada is 5.3% ABV (10.6 proof) in cans and bottles, but 4.5% ABV (9 proof) draught in pubs. It has been produced in South Africa since 2009, with a 5.3%ABV.
It is available in four different forms in the UK. Original, Extra Cold (draught only, chilled to a few degrees lower than normal draught Strongbow), Strongbow Black (formerly Strongbow Super; 7.5% ABV) and the newer Strongbow Sirrus (5% ABV), which was launched in summer 2005 to compete with Magners Original Irish Cider. The rather orange looking "Sirrus" was formulated as a 'smooth' cider designed to be poured over ice, and is only available in bottles, whereas the normal variety is available in cans, bottles and on draught, and Strongbow Super is only available in cans.
In South Africa, the USA and Australia, Strongbow is also available but is brewed to a strength of only 5% ABV. In Canada, Strongbow is available at the typical 5.3% ABV. Strongbow is available in three varieties in Australia: Dry, Sweet and Original (formerly sold as "Draught"). Previously Strongbow White was available in Australia, which had a much higher alcohol content (8.5%). It ceased production sometime after 2000. In the USA and Canada, only Strongbow Original is commonly available.
Scottish & Newcastle extended the Strongbow range with "Jacques from Strongbow", a 5.5% bottled fruit cider available in cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours. It is made in Belgium by S&N's Stassen cider mill.
In 2007, trials of "Strongbow Iced" began. It is a competitor to other ciders that are served over ice. This uses a specially designed pump that creates a "head" of ice made from cider on the top of the pint much like Weston's CiderIce.
The public have been subjected to many powerful advertising campaigns over the years, hence drinkers not knowing any better!
Strongbow is perhaps best associated with the famous "thudding arrows", they have been a signature of the brand's advertising since the 60s. The original Norman Archer logo was designed by Colin Fulcher, better known as artist Barney Bubbles.
The television commercials from around 1998 featured Johnny Vaughan and the "live to loaf" line. The idea was to associate the naturally refreshing nature of Strongbow with a laid back attitude to life. During Spring 2007, the television advertising campaign was based around "total first pint refreshment (a-a-a-h-h-h-h-h-h.....)"
One of the more recent commercial was filmed in Halifax, West Yorkshire and is suppost to represent the country's grafters and their unsung contribution to daily life.
Over the years the Strongbow logo has been seen on the football shirts of both Heart of Midlothian and Leeds United as sponsors.