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Cider House Rules

bottle talk

Seattle Cider Company

Why cider? 

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, we aim to break the mold of overly sweet cider, bringing the natural flavors of Washington apples to the forefront.

How do you choose your fruit? 

It’s important to us to honor our location in the Pacific Northwest and to preserve Washington’s long history with apples. Our 2014 Heirloom blend utilizes Newtown Pippin, Gravenstein, and Esopus Spitzenberg apples, in addition to 10 varieties of French and English cider apples grown at the WSU Extension Campus in Mount Vernon. We love being able to collaborate with those also preserving our food history. 

What’s the biggest misconception about cider?

Cider doesn’t have to be overly, even cloyingly, sweet. Cider styles run the gamut and include dry, off dry and semidry. 

What special releases are available in November?

Pumpkin Spice Cider will be nearing its end before Oaked Maple returns to pull us through the winter. Oaked Maple is fermented with raisins and oak chips. This semi-dry cider is back sweetened with pure Vermont maple syrup. 

 

Alpenfire Cider

Why cider? 

We became infatuated with cider when we came across it in Canada in the early 1970s. Later we tasted French and English styles of cider and our interest changed from enjoying it occasionally to wanting to learn all about it—including making it. Other than the flavor, it was the regional draw of apples that really sparked our interest. Also, the fact that it was not readily available in the United States at the time, and we couldn’t imagine why. Seek out the well-made ciders that are created with traditional cider apples, and you will find that they can have an incredible complexity. Cider has half the alcohol of wine and is gluten-free. And incredible cider fruit, the very best varieties, can be grown right here in western Washington. 

How do you choose your fruit?

We grow our fruit for cider characteristics. Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black, Vilberie, Brown Snout and Dabinett are a few of our favorite varieties. We look at tannin levels for depth and round flavors, acidity for brightness and longevity, high sugar for a sufficient ABV. Heirloom apples add delicious flavors and aroma. 

What’s the biggest misconception about cider?

The saddest misconception about cider is that it can’t stand on its own. True cider doesn’t need other fruits or vegetables or spices to make it exceptionally enjoyable. The abundance of flavored ciders is fun, but would you add pineapple to a chardonnay if you had the right fruit to begin with? As more cider fruit is planted and people are exposed to the real thing, the interest in novelty ciders will wane.

What special releases are available in November?

We will be releasing Cinders, a methode champenoise cider made from rare red-flesh apples. It’s dry, crisp and pink!

Is there anything else you want to share? 

Alpenfire was the first organically certified cider in the Northwest. We use the cider fruit we grow and heirloom apples to produce earthy, well-balanced traditional-styled ciders that we hope will entice new devotees to the cider glass!

 

Finnriver Farm & Cidery

Why cider? 

We love how cider is both something old and something new! It’s old because of the long, venerable heritage of cider making around the world and during the early American frontier. It’s new because after being suppressed by Prohibition, cider has made its way back into our culture. That rediscovery is exciting and reflects a growing interest in reclaiming traditions and restoring our connection to the land that sustains us. 

How do you choose your fruit? 

Cider, at its best, retains its connection to the orchard. We select different apples for different styles of cider, and all of Finnriver’s apples are either organically grown Washington apples or homestead apples grown by friends and neighbors around the region. In our own organic orchard, we grow 4,000 trees of over 18 varieties of traditional cider apples, which include bittersweet and bitter sharp varieties that have been propagated for cider making and not for eating (folks call them “spitters” for that reason). Strong acids and tannins give those apples distinct flavors that emerge beautifully in the fermentation process. Washington has a long history of apple growing, primarily for eating dessert fruit, and it’s wonderful that we are now embracing the diversity of apple production and replanting the old cider varieties as well.

What’s the biggest misconception about cider?

A few years ago, folks were still confused about whether we were making apple juice when we called it “cider.” The original use of the term “cider” in Europe and early American history meant fermented beverage; contemporary cider makers are restoring this usage. So we had a lot of explaining to do when people came looking for apple juice. Another misconception is that many people assume hard cider is very sweet. But, in fact, many of us are fermenting much drier ciders that showcase more complex properties of the apple.

What special releases are available in November?

We should still have our fall seasonal botanical cider, Forest Ginger. We will also be getting ready to release our winter Cranberry Rosehip. Our Artisan Sparkling Cider, made in the labor-intensive méthode champenoise, makes a beautiful brut cider for holiday feasts. Lastly, we will be releasing several ciders in our Crew Selections series, which are small-batch creative cider projects initiated by our crew. 

Is there anything else you want to share? 

Finnriver won a Good Food Award in 2015 for our Black Currant cider; our ciders have won many awards and great recognition. Finnriver is committed to serving the land with cider by farm crafting lovely ciders that inspire a reverence for the earth that sustains us. We also want to help reconnect folks to working farmland, so we heartily welcome visitors to come visit us at the farm and cidery. 

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