I have a confession: I think I love cider. Not that sweet, sugary swill that corporate behemoths try to pass off as cider, but the dry and off-dry cider a whole new wave of cider makers are creating right now. The Portland Cider Summit was on June 21 and 22 and, my goodness, there was a lot of cider in my life that weekend.
Kickstart Your Cider-Loving Heart
Before the weekend began, I was already celebrating with Nat West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and many of the other Kickstarter backers who donated to the construction of the tasting room at his new cider house. It was a fantastic party atmosphere with a wide selection of ciders available, crazy amounts of pizza from Sizzle Pie, a bluegrass band playing some great tunes, and awesome people. If you’re a craft beer fan, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider is probably the cider brand that you’d appreciate, because his approach to cider is the same in many respects. In fact, I worked with Geoff Kaiser from Seattle Beer News to have him travel to Portland and visit Nat’s cidery and see what his styles are all about. Read all about his visit on his website.
Scaling The Cider Summit
Armed with my Timbers Army shirt, sunglasses and tasting glass, I began my trek through more than 30 different cider makers at the Portland Cider Summit. Two of my clients were there — Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and Virtue Cider — both of which had some of my favorite ciders. Baird and Dewar’s 2012 Constitution was one favorite that day. The spiced dry heirloom cider aged in rum barrels clocked in at 9.8% ABV and definitely made for a good winter warmer, even though it was closer to 90 degrees fahrenheit outside. Similar to barrel-aged beers, ciders can taste remarkable when aged in barrels. Sea Cider’s Prohibition was another barrel-aged cider that tasted great with its smooth mouthfeel and hints of rum and molasses. It definitely didn’t taste like it was 12.5% ABV.
Cider Brings Out Some Great People (And Dogs)
What a great weekend to meet new people! I finally got to meet many of the people who work at Virtue Cider as well as taste two new ciders of theirs that I haven’t had before. I’m in love with Virtue’s awesomely sour Sidra de Nava. Abram Goldman-Armstrong from Northwest Brewing News was a pleasure to meet and it was interesting learning about his new cider venture, Cider Riot. Corey from The Cider Times — whom I previously met during a tasting event for Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider — was down from Seattle for the judging of the Portland International Cider Cup as well as to hit the summit. Geoff Kaiser from Seattle Beer News was experiencing the tastes of cider with his wife that day and it was great to talk cider, beer, and food in Portland and Seattle with both of them. Alex aka Cider Monger was working at the event, but it was rad meeting a guy who’s so into cider and who was super nice to chat with. I also met a rad dog.
Winning With Timbers And Cider
As Sunday arrived, it was like the Rose City — you cannot stop us. After seeing another epic Timbers win at JELD-WEN field, Yaicha and I went to The Cleaners at Ace Hotel for a Virtue Cider kick-off event for their distribution expansion into Portland, Oregon. They had RedStreak, The Ledbury, and Sidra de Nava on tap as well as cider cocktails developed by Jeffrey Morganthaler. The fantastic music was DJ’d by Kyle Webster while the food was artfully made by Ned Ludd’s Jason French and Beast’s Naomi Pomeroy. Virtue Cider’s founder and cider maker Greg Hall gave a rousing speech about his love for Portland and their move into this market. Needless to say, this event was nothing short of awesome.
That’s A Whole Lotta’ Apples
Although I still have a huge love for craft beer, I can’t wait until cider is just as popular as craft beer is in America. If you haven’t had cider made from some of these cider makers, I urge you to try it. If you have, tell me, what’s your favorite cider right now?