Cider Riot! is dedicated to producing high quality ciders from Cascadian grown apples. With tradition as our guide and our roots firmly planted in the rich soils of our bioregion, our urban cidery produces refreshing, flavorful ciders.
Oregon Cider published in Oregon Wine Magazine 2004
As the fall frosts turn the leaves winemakers are not the only ones pressing fruit in Oregon.
Cider, or hard cider as it is often called was once the most popular beverage in America. In colonial times, per capita consumption of cider was 30 gallons a year. Sadly the beverage was all but killed by Prohibition. Recently there has been a craft cider renaissance here in Oregon.
These are not the saccharine sweet concentrate-based ciders mass-produced by California jug-wine behemoths. Oregon ciders are generally made in the tradition of English and French ciders, from apples grown specifically for making cider. These are not the apples granny uses in her pies, in fact many are not very pleasant to eat in the raw form. Cider apples can be divided into four main categories, bittersweet, bittersharp, sharp, and sweet. A blend of these various types gives the cidermaker the correct balance of acids tannins and sugars needed to make a complex cider.
Making cider from dessert apples would be like trying to make Pinot Noir from Concord grapes, says Alan Foster of White Oak Ciders.
Traditional cider apples are not commonly grown so cidermakers have had to rely on other cider makers, the University of Washington research orchard at Mt. Vernon, as well as direct imports from Europe for orchard stock.
Foster who started Oregon's first cidery, White Oak, between Newberg and Yamhill, near Archery Summit winery, grows more than sixty varieties of cider apples. He began planting his orchard in 1989, after falling in love with traditional ciders in England in the 1970s. He produces a traditional Somerset style dry English cider, a Kingston Black varietal cider, and has added a pommeau to his lineup as well. (Pommeau is apple brandy with fresh juice added).
Cider published in Northwest Brewing News October 2010
Local artisan cidermakers hope cider can achieve the success that craft beer has achieved in the Pacific Northwest. Though still a very small segment of the drinks market, cider has been gaining ground in recent years. As consumers more consumers look for gluten free alternatives to beer, ciders are often the perfect fit. This fall marks a bountiful harvest for cider-lovers in the Cascadia with the opening of Bushwacker Cider, a cider specific pub in Portland, the Cider Summit Northwest in Seattle September 11th, Vashon Cider Fest October 9 on Vashon Island, WA, and the cider tasting that is part of Portland Nursery's 23rd annual Apple Festival October 9-10th and 16-17th.
English cidermaster and biochemist Peter Mitchell has helped foster the development of cideries throughout Cascadia with regular classes in basic and advanced cidermaking in Mount Vernon, Washington. With more cideries opening, one of the challenges cidermakers face is the scarcity of cider apples. These small, tannic, acidic fruits are nothing like the dessert apples found in your local supermarket, and convincing commercial growers to plant them is a struggle.
There are several schools of cidermaking in the Pacific Northwest. Traditionalists such as Westcott Bay and Merridale strive to produce authentic English or French style ciders. Blenders, such as Wandering Aengus and Tieton mix cider apples with dessert fruit for mellower, but still tannic ciders. Another branch of cidermakers, including Blue Mountain Cider Company in Eastern Oregon, and Raven's Ridge in the Interior of BC use dessert fruit, often heirloom or pollinator varieties to produce their ciders. Large commercial or processed ciders, such as Spire Mountain and Ace generally use bulk apple juice or even concentrate and balance it post-fermentation with added acids and sweeteners.
Oregon Cider published in Oregon Beer Growler October 2012
It's fair to say I grew up on cider. In high school I helped plant apples such as Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black, and Dabinett at White Oak Cider in rural Yamhill County. At the age of 17, I stuffed apples from the college dining hall into my flight jacket and with a cheese-grater for a mill and two plates for a press made my first batch. I've made cider every fall since. Over that time I've watched the industry, grow, struggle, and finally, in the last few years, blossom into the vibrant scene we know today.
Alan Foster, owner of White Oak, along with Roger Mansfield of the Traditional Company (which became Wandering Aengus) were the pioneers of craft cider in Oregon. They planted true cider apple varieties full of the tannins and acids that produce complexity and mouthfeel in cider. In the West Country in England, the world's foremost cider producing region, cider apples are called turnips for their wizened appearances, and with one bite of sharp or bittersharp apples (the most tannic of all), it's easy to know why they are referred to as spitters. The tannins rob all the saliva from your mouth and spitting out the bits of apple is an almost automatic reaction. Though won't win any awards for their looks or their taste when eaten, bittersweet, bittersharp, and sharp apples are the key to fine cider.
Legendary American frontiersman Johnny Appleseed wasn't planting apples for granny's pies, but so settlers could make cider when they arrived. In Colonial times every man woman and child in the Colonies consumed 30 gallons of cider a year, and it remained America's drink of choice until the arrival of German immigrants and refrigeration in the late 19th century made brewing ubiquitous. Teetotal and temperance movement twisted the name to mean unfiltered apple juice, and after Prohibition, cider (defined as the fermented juice of apples) never recovered.
Cider Riot! is an urban cidery dedicated to the production of dry ciders. We use a variety of apples grown in Cascadia, including rare English and French cider variety apples, wild apples from Yamhill County, Oregon, and dessert apples from the Yakima and Hood River Valleys. Thanks for visiting Cider Riot!