I’m a beer guy. I’ve always been a beer guy. Sure, I enjoy the occasional glass of wine and I love a good Bourbon, Whiskey or Tequila, but my first love when it comes to adult beverages has been, and I think always will be, a great craft beer. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t still make an effort to broaden my horizons, and the incredible rise in popularity of craft cider (see the press release below) is making that much easier.
I’ve got to give much of the credit for my increased interest in cider to both Seattle Cider Company and The Beer Junction in West Seattle. Both are places I usually visit when I’m in the mood for a beer but, since they both have a great selection of ciders on tap as well, I often find myself switching things up a bit and ordering a cider instead of a beer.
I also haven’t been to many cider festivals or conventions yet, and unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to make this one either but perhaps you can. Coming up next week, starting February 2nd and running through February 6th is CiderCON 2016, presented by the Northwest Cider Association.
According to the Northwest Cider Association:
Conference sessions will focus on production, distribution, marketing and research, apple growing and sensory analysis. Media and registered attendees are invited to partake in trade show and conference sessions. A full schedule of sessions and events is linked here.
Not a cider industry professional or with the media? No problem. You can hobnob with those in the industry around Portland during the conference.
After each day of the conference, downtown Portland will become a cider lover’s dream. Several “after hours” events are already scheduled, including a Cider Riot! Tap Takeover at APEX on February 2 and 2 Towns Ciderhouse will visit Rontoms on February 4. Events are being added to the OutsideCon calendar linked here.
The Northwest is a hotbed of cider growth so it’s very exciting that this national conference will take place here for the first time. The press release below shares findings from a recent NW Cider Association member survey that highlights the regional perspective of this booming industry.
Here is the full press release from the Northwest Cider Association:
SEATTLE – January 21, 2016 – The Northwest Cider Association, a trade organization that represents more than 70 cider makers throughout British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, recently completed a membership survey to gain regional insight into the nation’s fastest-growing beverage category. The results uncovered a variety of trends relating to cider varieties and distribution, but most notably, regarding growth.
In less than two years, more than 33 cider establishments – including tap rooms, cideries and tasting rooms – have opened throughout the Northwest. With 10 opening in 2014 and 23 in 2015, the year showed unprecedented expansion in this area. This growth trajectory isn’t slowing, as there are five tasting room openings already anticipated in the first half of 2016. Survey findings provided insight into trends relating to styles, products and distribution. Additional highlights include:
- Several Northwest cideries are experimenting with new varieties and styles, many producing more than 15-20 products each year. These range from delicious perries, as seen in Nashi Orchards’ variety of products made with estate grown Asian pears, to the exotic, such as 2 Towns Cider House’s “Prickle me Pink,” a hot pink cider infused with all-natural juice from the prickly pear.
- Many cider makers are experimenting with infusions of Northwest ingredients like hops, as seen in in Finnriver Farm and Ciderhouse’s “Dry Hopped,” as well as ginger, berries, apricot and more.
- The culinary inclined are going beyond the glass with cider food products, including gourmet vinegars from Alpenfire and Spinnakers Brew Pub; Howling Moon Cider House has plans to launch a line of barbeque sauce in 2016.
- As the market matures, many Northwest cider makers are expanding with international distribution outside of North America including Norway, Japan, and Singapore.
“We’re seeing a true sense of cooperation as several cideries are expanding to offer various other Northwest ciders on tap and even sell their cider in their onsite bottle shops,” notes Northwest Cider Association’s Executive Director Sherrye Wyatt. “Whether you are looking for an intimate tasting room in the heart of an orchard, an urban tap house hopping with college students, or charming neighborhood ciderhouse with local professionals, you will find them all throughout the Northwest.”
Year over year, the association’s membership has grown from 52 cideries to 70, marking consistent growth since its 31 cidermakers in 2013. The national cider spotlight will focus on the Northwest this February 2-6, when the US Cider Association’s CiderCon visits Portland Oregon. This cider extravaganza is developed for both cider experts and cider curious, and includes tastings, workshops, after hours events and much more. Visitwww.CiderConference.com for more information.
About Northwest Cider Association
Founded in 2010, the Northwest Cider Association (NWCA) brings cideries and cider lovers together to learn, experience and enjoy the Northwest cider culture. Representing more than 70 commercial cidermakers from throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia, the group is dedicated to supporting, promoting and growing this thriving industry. NWCA hosts cider-themed events throughout the year, as well as Cider Weeks in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. For more information about the Northwest Cider Association, visit www.nwcider.com, or follow the growing organization on Facebook and Twitter (@nwcider).
As I said, I can’t make it to Portland myself for this event but, if you’re a cider fan, you might just want to check it out.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.