Earlier last fall, I had the chance to taste test some of Washington’s best ciders during the eighth annual Washington Cider Week. Normally my go-to drink of choice in the alcohol world are porters and stouts (especially on nitro), but ciders are gaining their place on my palate.
During the course of the tastings, I had the chance to speak to some of the cider makers about their products and I learned about something I had never heard of before – keeving!
Last year, ten cider makers from Washington and Oregon went to France England to learn about keeving. What is this exactly? According to the Northwest Cider Association, keeving “is a traditional method of fermentation that is used to produce sparkling semi-dry and sweet ciders without back-sweetening.” I tried the Sparkling Perry (keeved pear juice) from Tieton Cider Works and I almost felt like I was drinking champagne! I can definitely get into this keeving business!
I thoroughly enjoyed the event, taste testing so many different ciders and meeting so many passionate cider makers in the industry!
Of all the ones I tried, Chatter Creek Cider’s Chaider Clipper was probably my favorite. The Golden Cider is infused with Chai Tea and sweetened further with Clover Honey. I really enjoyed the smooth after taste of the honey and how it wasn’t mouth-puckering sweet.
I highly recommend shopping local and trying out some of these great ciders!
2 Towns Ciderhouse
Our mission at 2 Towns Ciderhouse has always been to bring cider back to the people, restoring this historic beverage to its former glory through integrity in both ingredients and process. We believe craft beverages should be simple, so we simply use the whole fruits that nature provides, and nothing else.
Bad Granny Hard Cider
Although Bad Granny’s heritage lies in the beautiful orchards of Washington State, her creative genesis found its roots beside her sister product, the Karma Vineyards Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wine. Owners Julie and Bret Pittsinger opened Karma in the fall of 2007, creating the first traditional style champagne in the region. As the brand grew to be one of the favored bubblies the State of Washington, Bret saw an opportunity to partner with his long-term relationships of growers in the Valley that he’s cultivated over several decades. The chemistry between the quality of fruit and the knowledge of the traditional French champagne method, created a unique Hard Cider …and BAD GRANNY was born!
Seattle Cider Company
Seattle Cider Company is Seattle’s first cidery since Prohibition, bringing true craft cider back to Seattle and across the country. Bridging the gap between wine and beer with flavorful, small-batch cider, Seattle Cider’s initial offerings – Dry and Semi-Sweet – break the mold of overly sweet cider, bringing the natural flavors of Washington apples to the forefront.
Chatter Creek Cider
I began making wine in the early 80’s as a home winemaker. Some of the first wine I made was from fresh apple juice purchased from the local grocery. It was great stuff to practice with, but wanting to be a “serious” winemaker, I moved on to grapes and wine-making as a vocation. Throughout the years as a professional winemaker I’ve been called on to make many types of fruit wines and mead but never made it back to apple. About twenty years ago I started Chatter Creek Winery, making sparkling and still wines. The idea of working with apples again languished on the “that’d be fun to do” list. A year or so ago, after a particularly awful day of not doing winemaking at the winery, I grabbed a couple of carboys and some yeast, stopped at the store for apple juice on my way home, and The Pilot Project was started.
The Longdrop Cider company motto is “Good to the Core” or G2TC for short. This starts with our pledge: With ever case of cider we sell, Longdrop donates a pound of fresh fruits or vegetables to hungry kids in need of better food and nutrition. Well-fed kids feel better and more confident and do better in school too – setting them up for greater success in life. G2TC also applies to quality. We promise to deliver great-tasting ciders of the highest quality and craft. We start with fresh hand-picked apples to get the freshest juice from the highest quality fruit. We use real ingredients: teas, berries, stone fruit, spices and specialty yeasts – and no artificial flavors or colors. Finally, G2TC means running the best business we can. We are committed to local sourcing, reducing waste and upcycling, taking care of our employees, and giving back to the communities that carry our products. We are going above and beyond – pursing B Corp Certification in 2019 as ongoing validation that we are walking the talk.
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.
Dragon’s Head Cider
At Dragon’s Head Cider, our award winning ciders are made with a traditional approach, which means you will never find us using apple juice concentrate, over sweetening our ciders, or adding other flavors to our ciders. We love the story that apples and pears can tell all by themselves. And so we keep it simple. Press high quality fruit, ferment the juice, put it in a bottle. We believe one of the keys to creating great cider is to have control over the entire process. For this reason, we do the pressing, fermentation, blending and bottling all right here on the farm. Wes and Laura Cherry moved to Vashon Island in 2010 with the dream of planting an orchard and starting a cidery. Dragon’s Head Farm, named for the dragon who guards the apples of immortality in the Garden of Hesperides, is now home to over 3,000 cider fruit trees as well as our production facility. Our ciders are currently sold in Washington, Oregon, and California.
Finnriver Farm and Cidery
The Finnriver crew farms and ferments on 80 acres of organic fields and orchard in the Chimacum Valley, along a restored salmon stream on the north Olympic Peninsula of Washington. While our farm is remote, we’re honored to be on the forefront of the Pacific Northwest hard cider revival and to craft ciders that both honor historic hard cider traditions and offer fresh perspectives on the possibilities of the fermented apple. We grow and source organic and seasonal ingredients to celebrate the beauty and bounty of the earth. Our mission is to create deep-rooted and fruitful connections to the land we farm and to grow community. Our Cider Garden is open daily, year-round!
Located in the largest apple-growing region on the continent, Liberty Ciderworks is all about the apple, showcasing the diversity and wonders of locally grown fruit. From well known apples like McIntosh and Jonathan to rare, cider-specific fruit like Kingston Black and Dabinett, Liberty ciders put apples in their proper place: Front and center. We started Liberty Ciderworks in 2013 with a simple, two-part mission: 1) Using apples from local farms and fields to create unique, wonderful ciders, and 2) Sharing them with friends and neighbors across the great Pacific Northwest.
When Sylvester Neigel, our grandfather, returned from World War II, he planted a small hobby orchard. Syl was an inspiration to all of us. The man who knew everyone in town and was always there help no matter what. After his passing we took over care of the small crop of trees. We soon found ourselves too small to supply the large local packing sheds and ripe for a new direction. It was time to enjoy drinking the spoils of our harvest. In the years before going to market, we started pressing on an old 1903 cider press with the zeal of impassioned hobbyists. The previous owner of this second hand press told us we could make good “adult” cider by leaving some fresh press in gallon jugs under the stairs until they were the size of basketballs. We were horrified, and figured that we may have saved someone from going blind by taking it off their hands. We soon realized that the native pear varieties on the property provided for a uniquely light and flavorful finish, and a small family company was born. The first pears we press each season come off of the heritage family orchard and through the year we pear this fruit with bins from around the Wenatchee valley. As one of the first cideries in the country to focus solely on pear, Pear UP pioneered the low sugar, flavor-forward alternative offering blends that are perfect for enjoying anytime from a hot day out on the boat to a fire-side winter huddle.
When we started Swift, we set out to make cider better. The mass-market ciders we could find were just too sweet, too artificial, and too boring. Because independent hard cider production effectively ended with Prohibition, it has been up to us to define a category of cider where quality and craftsmanship take precedent.
Tieton Cider Works
The fruit that is used in Tieton Cider Works cider comes from Craig and Sharon Campbell’s Harmony Orchards. This land has been in our family since the 1920’s when our grandfather planted his first trees in Tieton, Washington. We take our stewardship of the land seriously and have been farming organically for the last 25 years. As a third generation Yakima Valley farmer with a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and over thirty five years’ experience in marketing produce, Craig has always been curious about the back-story: the history, production, science, and industry of food. Growing different varieties of trees is truly what makes Craig happy and he is always looking for new varieties to plant and nurture. In 2008 he was introduced to cider apple varieties, those gnarly, inedible wild apple varieties needed to make great cider. He planted twenty five varieties in a test block. We now have the largest acreage of cider apples and Perry pears in the state of Washington with 55 acres. A love of land, food and drink has inspired us to make cider with the fruit we are growing at our ranch, Harmony Orchards. We know the ciders we make are an expression of the harvest and reflective of the fruit and the place that it is grown.Craig and Sharon both maintain ownership in the company and are actively involved in the ongoing success of Tieton Cider Works.
Portland Cider Company
We started the Portland Cider Company in 2012 with the intent of marrying English cider traditions with the innovative Northwest micro-brewing culture. Lynda hails from Somerset county of England, the traditional cider making region, and Jeff is a native Oregonian. It all started from a desire to make the clean, dry cider Lynda grew to love in England, and Jeff yearned to find here. The first batches began in our guest room closet, 5 gallons at a time, made to quench our own thirst. We then introduced it to our friends and family, most never having drank cider before, and discovered we were on to something when our popularity soared and those small batches went fast! That cider is what became our signature and bestselling “Kinda Dry.” Now 4 years on, we continue to devote the same passion for 5000 gallon batches as we did for those first 5 gallon ones. Only now we don’t worry about running out of what we love! We hope you won’t run out of it either!