Taste Washington is always a highlight of my year, and this year I chose to attend seminars both days before the event. On Sunday, they offered a cider seminar entitled Cider Revolution which caught my eye for two reasons: I needed a break from all the wine, and cider is my new obsession!
- 200 years ago, cider was America’s favorite drink but beer started to become more popular as people started to move into urban cities.
- Cider is a great option for many reasons; it generally has low alcohol levels, it is gluten free and it pairs well with a lot of different foods.
- Cider (Hard Cider) is the fastest growing category in the beverage industry.
- The northwest is an excellent place for cider, as cider apples grow well here.
- There are 15 cider producers in Washington and 10 in Oregon (but more Oregon producers use Washington apples!).
- Cider around the world is defined as a fermented beverage, but in the US it must be called Hard Cider to differentiate the alcohol in it.
- Cider is treated as wine by the Federal government. It is like wine in that it is a fermented fruit beverage, but the cider making process is like beer.
- Demographic assumptions are that cider drinkers are in their 20’s and 30’s, but research shows it is a widely consumed beverage among all ages.
History of Cider:
- Colonial settlers from North Europe and England brought apples to the US. In the early days, many people made ciders from apples grown on trees in their backyard.
- Johnny Appleseed actually planted mostly cider trees, which are different than traditional apple trees.
- Besides Washington, Michigan, Illinois and New York grow the best cider trees in the US.
- During prohibition, most cider trees were cut down, but some survived as they were also used for pie baking.
For the seminar, we had eight different ciders, four flights of two, with each flight consisting of a Tieton Cider Works and Finnriver Farm & Cidery cider with one local cheese pairing.
Tieton Precipice Perry Pear cider was very tannic, dry, fizzy, fruity but mild and not too sweet.
The Finnriver Artisan was very dry and fizzy, light, not sweet but slightly bitter. It was suggested as a good replacement for mimosas, as many people don’t complain of cider headaches as they do with champagne.
Mt Townsend Seastack cheese was dense, creamy and good with dry, fizzy cider. A dry cheese with light flavor.
Tieton Wild Washington Apple cider has a good amount of residual sugar, VERY dry, a bit earthy, not sweet with strong apple flavors. Per Sharon Campbell, this is the “American Cider”.
Finnriver Farmstead Sparkling was dry and cloudy, an English-style cider with farm/earthy notes, and also not too sweet.
The Brebis cheese was delicious!! Sheep milk cheese with sharp Parmesan & Cheddar notes. So good!
Tieton Apricot was a bit dry, with sweeter notes, great apricot undertones and calm flavors. Organic apricot juice is added at the end of the process to give such deep flavor. This is the #1 seller for Tieton.
Finnriver Rosehip was sweet but had a very tart finish from the cranberries. There were slight floral notes from the rosehip accompanied by a bitter note.
Bianca cheese was strong and creamy, with flavors like chevre/goat cheese.
Tieton Frost was sweet, with a slightly bitter finish. It was very smooth, and not too syrupy as many dessert/ice wines can be. 11.5% ABV.
Finnriver Apple Wine was combination of apple cider and brandy, with earthy notes. Also not as sweet as traditional ice wine, with 18.5% ABV.
Tieton Venus cheese was very strong, with apple notes, similar to a creamy swiss. The cheese is bathed in their cider.
- Gouda and Cheddar goes with apple, fruit forward ciders
- Port ciders go best with fruit, pork and turkey
- Stronger ciders pair best with burgers
Recipe Idea using Cider: Cider Glazed Salmon
More Facts About Cider:
- Tannic ciders taste best at 50-60 degees Fahrenheit.
- Tannic ciders keep well in cellar storage, but unlike wine, they won’t improve over time.
- Hard Cider is a Federal tax status that lets high-volume ciders under 7% ABV pay beer tax rates.
- The term Sparkling Cider is used for fizzy, stabilized apple juice, mostly from concentrate, like Martinelli’s.
- Cider Beer most often is a term bloggers and consumers use for six-packs of cider, as they are presented like beer. Cider Beer is widely used, but an inaccurate term.
- Cider Wine is a phrase used for cider in 750ml bottles.
- Apple Wine is not the same as cider, and often has alcohol as high as 14% ABV.
Upcoming Cider Events:
- Cider & Mead Festival, May 11th, Orcas Island
- Summer Cider Day, July 6th, Pt. Townsend
- Northwest Cider Summit, September 6th-7th, Seattle
- Washington Cider Week, September 6th-15th
Overall, this was a very fun and educational seminar! At the end, I was asked to become part of the “Cider Revolution”…will you join me? Cheers!