The story of hard cider in America traces its roots back three centuries to the orchards and farmlands of colonial New England. Now it’s back and reshaping the craft beverage industry in the Northwest. To help you navigate this brave new world, check out my cider article “Cider Styles 101” for Northwest Travel Magazine. In addition to cider styles, I also write about tasting terms, flavor profiles, cider-making techniques and Northwest-made examples.
Interested in sampling the latest hard ciders in the Northwest? Check out my new article in the current issue of Northwest Travel Magazine about these four cider pubs and taprooms.
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.
I sampled some very tasty artisan hard ciders this weekend at Portland’s Cider Summit NW, which took place on the South Waterfront.
Delicious new finds include a crisp apricot cider from Tieton Cider Works, the dry and earthy Wild English cider from B.C.’s Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, the sparkly apple pie flavor of Chelan Gold from Lake Chelan Hard Cider and the fabulous floral finish of Hibiscus Hymnal from Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider.
And many of my favorite cider makers were at the summit as well: Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Bushwhacker Cider, Blue Mountain Cider, Alpenfire, and Wandering Aengus/Anthem, to name a few. Yum!