NW Cider Summit, Seattle 2011
Almost all of the 60 different ciders at the NW Cider Summit
Seattle 2011 were available for purchase at the event.
The second annual NW Cider Summit Seattle,
2011, met double the amount of people it had during the prior year.
With over 60 different ciders and 19 ciderhouses, the uncommonly
sunny Seattle day couldn't have been more pleasant.
Written and Photographed by Sarah Leonard for Hard Cider
"I think of this one as a sunshine summertime sipping
cider," said Bruce Jordan of Sea Cider on Vancouver Island as he
poured me a taste of his Pippins cider, an acidic, medium-dry
brightly effervescent cider featured at the second Annual NW Cider
Summit Seattle, on Sept. 10th in the South Lake Union
Discovery Center located next to Denny Park in downtown
Event attendees patiently wait in line to sample some 9 different
ciders offered at the Wandering Aengus/Anthem table with a
surprisingly sunny Seattle skyline rises behind.
Upon receiving a wristband, miniature cider glass, and my
allotment of tickets, I stepped forward to take stock of what would
become my first cider festival experience. White canopies circled
the sun-lit grassy park, each tent boasting two tables and up to 4
different ciderhouses. Each table and ciderhouse display was
crowded with event attendees chatting with cidermakers and among
themselves, or patiently waiting with an air of barely-subdued
excitement as they deliberated which cider to taste
And with good reason too. The options were numerous and
far-reaching. With over 60 different cider varieties from 19
cideries spread among four states and over four countries, there
were more ciders than a single person could sample throughout the
event, which ran all day from 11am-7pm. Admittance to the
event included 10 drink tickets, with one ticket allowing a half
pour (3 ounces) and two tickets a full pour (6 ounces).
People mingled, sat on the grass and listened first to Alan Hager
and James Miller from Portland, Ore. and later the Drummerboy Duo
on a small stage. Others sat at tables, although undoubtedly the
majority of people stood in loose circles, hovering by the tables
to drink in both their favorite ciders and the uncharacteristically
bright sun as it flashed off Seattle skyscrapers in the
I headed to the farthest table and worked my way backwards
through the alphabetically ordered ciderhouses. Chatting with
the cider-makers themselves, along with novice and experienced
cider drinkers throughout my time at the festival, I was told that
the event was a brilliant success, with over twice the attendance
from last year.
In the foreground Bruce Jordan of British Columbia's Sea
Cider pours out a glass of Rumrunner cider while Jeremy Marlow
pours an Eaglemount cider in the background.
"It's considerably larger, which is really very
encouraging…there is a real renaissance happening in the Pacific
Northwest and the attendance today is clearly a sign of that,"
commented Bruce Jordan, owner of British Columbia's Sea
Echoing this observation was Spencer Reilly, an avid cider
drinker for more than five years, who told me how his passion for
cider ultimately led him overseas to learn about the English,
French, and Spanish ciders. Watching the market for cider
grow over the last few years has given him reason to pursue a new
dream: opening an exclusively cider bar in the Capitol Hill
neighborhood of Seattle. His vision would fill a void in
Seattle, where beer always outnumbers cider on tap. Reilly is
encouraged by the sharply rising interest surrounding cider in
Seattle and the Pacific Northwest; he believes his bar can thrive
off of it.
This exponential growth in the market for cider seemed to
be the topic of the afternoon as event workers and attendees
marveled at the wide variety of ciders available and the sheer
number of people in attendance. Just as many first time cider
drinkers attended as old timers, and everyone had similar reasons
for their peaked interest in hard cider. The consensus seemed
to be that cider is becoming more visible as an alternative, not
just to expertly crafted microbrews, but to wines and liquors as
"Our big thing right now is education," said owner of
Finn River Jim Bovino, who strongly stressed to me the importance
of educating the population about cider. "Educating people as to
what cider is, on an artisan level, that it's an expensive beverage
to make, with very diverse styles, much like wine, and that it's
not just a sweet alternative to beer." The entire event was more
than successful in this regard as I spoke with multiple people that
had previously never considered drinking cider, but stumbled upon
the festival in the busy South Lake Union neighborhood, and thought
they'd give it a try.
Alpenfire Cider, among others, adorned their table with the very
apples they make their cider from.
"It just feels like what cider should taste like," states
Kate Schmiett with a shrug, a seasoned, yet casual cider drinker,
about the cloudy, fuller-bodied and sweeter The Saint from
California ciderhouse Crispin Cider.
As the afternoon wrapped up and I quizzed event attendees
on their favorite ciders I found that the most popular ciders of
the afternoon were… all the ciders. Some of the more
exotically flavored ciders garnered numerous raves, such as the
Tieton Cider Works Apricot cider, the Eaglemount Raspberry and
Ginger ciders, the Blue Mountain Cranberry or the Finn River Black
Currant Sparkling. Yet also winning approval were the drier ciders
that featured more stringent and acidic notes.
I was fortunate to taste far more than the normal
allotment of 10 ciders, and though my palate swiftly tired from
overuse, even now, days later, I can still recall the stringent and
fruity flavors of my personal favorites that afternoon: the Sea
Cider Pippins and the Tieton Cider Works Apricot.
The event was sponsored by NW Cider
Associationand SBS Imports.
Source: Hard Cider International