Monday, September 28th, 2015

Cider Swig in Gig Harbor recap

Ron Swarner

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Once an infinitesimal share of the beverage market, hard ciders have seen great increases in interest over the last several years and are starting to register in the consciousness of American consumers, especially in Gig Harbor. The second annual Cider Swig was held Saturday, Sept. 26 — National Public Lands Day — at Sehmel Homestead Park in Gig Harbor. Proceeds from the Cider Swig support environmental education and conservation to maintain and expand area parks, trails and natural areas around the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula community.

After everyone found parking, the fun-filled, family-friendly afternoon of cider sipping and apple slingshot launching hit its stride. More than 50 regional ciders in booths half-mooned the grassy field, as Steve Stefanowicz’s Driving Sideways band rocked young and old.

It was an odd day. To begin, cider is an odd duck. It’s fermented with yeast, and usually has low alcohol content similar to beer, but is made with fruit, like wine. The crowd was heavy on couples; roaming packs of dudes like those found at beer festivals weren’t swigging. A regional flannel shirt club must have held its meeting at the event, outnumbering the 7 Seas Brewing T-shirt contingent. Last, cider drinkers love to chat with the cidermakers, in front of the lines, between long sips of cider. Beer drinkers in viking hats would have slain the social, slow sippers.

It was also a day of delicious flavors.

One Tree Hard Cider out of Spokane served a Lemon Basil Cider that was out of this world — the right amount of lemonade-type tartness with a hint of herbal basil.

Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, the apple of Portland’s eye, offered their Hallelujah Hopricot, a bold Belgian wit-style cider steeped with coriander, bitter orange peel and paradise grains, fermented with a Belgian Saison ale yeast, with a blast of apricot juice and finished with Cascade and Amarillo hops. Praise be the ginger, pine and apricot aromas. And also with you citrus-hopped, tangy finish.

Olympia’s Whitewood Cider Co. brought their Kingston Black cider — a dry, ultra smooth cider aged in barrels with a distinctive bourbon flavor and a touch of vanilla.

Snowdrift Cider Company from East Wenatchee brought three ciders, their Cornice was my favorite — with notes of bourbon vanilla, fall fruit, and toffee converging in this off-dry delight.

The people agreed with my Lemon Basil love. The One Tree cider nabbed a gold medal as the “People’s Choice.” One Tree also grabbed second place for their Caramel Cinnamon Cider. The bronze went to Puyallup’s Cockrell Hard Ciders for their Devil ‘N Cider.

A bought many bottles from the makeshift cider store on site with plans of sipping them in my leaf-filled backyard soon … while wearing flannel of course.