With micro-brewing gone mainstream and artisan spirits not far behind, many are turning their attention to hard ciders. Once the most popular beverage in Colonial America, hard cider is making a comeback as one of the fastest growing adult beverage markets in the Northwest. To get your bearings on who’s who and what they’re producing, visit Bushwhacker Cider Pub in Portland, Oregon.
Opened in September 2010 by owners Jeff and Erin Smith, Bushwhacker is located in a renovated space in Southeast Portland’s Brooklyn neighborhood, near downtown. Wooden tables, a large bar, and coolers stocked with bottled ciders along one wall define the pub’s relaxed ambiance. A large, overhead door opens to an outdoor seating area, popular during good weather. This is a place where you can chat with friends, choose from a broad variety of excellent ciders and learn a little about this age-old beverage. Hard cider flavors range greatly, offering tastes for nearly every palate.
On tap, Bushwhacker pours six rotating hard ciders-two or three are usually house-made with others being local or national labels. But variety doesn’t stop there. Bushwacker stocks an impressive selection of more than 130 different bottled ciders from all over the world. Weekly events include cider tastings and live music.
Smith first started making cider in his home kitchen eight years ago. After taking two of cider-expert Peter Mitchell’s classes, he was ready to go pro. “I liked hard cider and no one in the Portland area was making it,” Smith says.
The sectioned-off area in the rear of the pub is the production area, where Smith crafts his ciders. At press time, selections included The Gin Barrel One, with its botanical signature from spent gin barrels; Sequoia, fermented in barrels that held white port and then whiskey; and Forgotten Trail, a fruity, medium-dry cider.
When they don’t end up on tap, Smith’s ciders are bottled and sold in the pub. They are also available in other bars and specialty stores throughout the Northwest. It’s Smith’s unique vision that inspired not only America’s first urban cider pub, but also the Bushwhacker brand. “It’s about paving your own way,” Smith says, something most cider makers must learn to do in this emerging market.
Bushwhacker Cider Pub is located at 1212-D SE Powell Blvd., Portland; 503- 445-0577.
This article was originally published in the March/April 2013 issue of Northwest Travel Magazine.