During Prohibition, three-fourths of America’s apple orchards were cut down, and cider makers no longer had enough fresh fruit when the alcohol ban was lifted in 1933. With few exceptions, only culinary apples grown for cooking and eating fresh remained. Today, consumers are gravitating back to hard cider because it represents a sustainable, locally grown, gluten-free alternative to beer. While most consumers know the basics of beer or wine, the cider industry has to overcome some basic misconceptions such as how cider is made and what it tastes like. Hard cider is not brewed like beer; it’s fermented like wine. And it tastes good. Today’s hard ciders offer far more than apple juice with a kick. Modern takes on this once-familiar alcoholic drink are rocking the adult beverage world. Peaks and Pints presents a flight of ciders today that we call Craft Cider Crosscut 10.30.17: A Flight of West Coast Cider.
Atlas Cider Co. forges its ciders in the heart of Bend, Oregon. For its Vanilla Pear Cider is ventures beyond Bend calling upon the Greek goddess of Snow, Khione, to forge a cider to combat the bitter, bleak, unyielding of her father’s wraith — Boreas, god of the North Wind. We don’t want to meddle in family matters, but the Madagascar vanilla beans are god-like in this perry.
Holy crap! 2 Towns Ciderhouse squeezes 50 pounds of ripe apricots into each batch of Cot In The Act. Shockingly (not), it tastes like apricot flesh turned up to 11. Sure, it’s on the sweeter side of semi-dry, but the tart, earthy cider base is fizzy and quick down the throat with sunny, ripe apricot wearing the conductor’s hat with pins of peach, lemon and herbal attached to said hat. No sourness. No funk. Low apple flavor. It’s a flavorful and juicy cider without being sweet.
Plum jerkum is made in the same way as cider: pressed (or ‘jerked’) fruit, with the extracted juice chucked into a fermenting vessel and allowed to turn to alcohol. California’s Mission-Trail Cider Company incorporates a proprietary blend of 14 different varietals of red-flesh plums in which the flavor of the plum is extracted from the skin without the need of a heavy press. We’re talking pure plum. Dry yet fruity, tart and, of course, fleshy.
In 2012, when Dave White met Heather Ringwood in the cider naming room the two business partners created Whitewood Cider Co., the South Sound’s first cidery. White has family roots in the state’s apple capital, Wenatchee — his grandfather worked in the apple industry — so he doesn’t mess around much with other fruits. In fact, White became a founding member of the Northwest Cider Association. Anyhoo, Olivia Newtown-Jonathan is a Newtown-Jonathan blend Whitewood affectionately and humorously refers to as Olivia. Whitewood’s Newtown-Pippin cider has rich lime and pineapple flavors that lend a perception of tropical sweetness and develop into fresh apples flavors. The cidery’s Jonathan cider starts out full up front good acid backbone followed by scant traces of a caramel/butterscotch flavors, and finishes clean with notes of, sour orange, Meyer lemon and citrus flavors. Imagine the blend.
Oregon blackberries and black currants combine with Hood River and Yakima-grown apples to create Cider Riot!’s tart dry Never Give An Inch cider with a fruity aroma. Invasive Himalaya blackberries run riot across western Oregon. Their fruits are delicious, juicy, and plentiful, spawning the phrase “as Cascadian as blackberry pie.” That’s all fine and dandy but let’s get down to what matters: the aroma is blackcurrant, apples and syrup that hits the tongue dry with a sweet dark berry note and sour finish. Solid blackcurrant taste throughout.