Portland has become a cider mecca, arguably the largest market in the country for hard cider and the host of this year’s Cider Conference from February 2-6th. Most of the state’s cider comes from outside of the city, though, in the more rural regions of Oregon. While Portland claims three of the top ten destinations for cider in the state, the others are scattered around central Oregon, the Willamette Valley, and the Columbia River Gorge, and are definitely worth traveling to for cider lovers.
Here are our ten favorite places to visit in Oregon for hard cider in no particular order.
Wildcraft Ciderworks Ciderhouse Bar
Wildcraft Ciderworks Ciderhouse (Eugene, OR)
Wildcraft Ciderworks may be the most underrated cider destination in Oregon. Few people know this small Eugene cidery, let alone that it has a top notch gastropub with farm-to-table food, lots of barrel-aged and experimental ciders, and cider cocktails. Wildcraft’s ciders might not be for everyone; the cidermakers use a lot of unique spices, herbs, and fruits and age in all sorts of barrels. These offerings are well worth exploring, though, for the unique throwback and food-inspired flavors, and there is even a rare cask cider. From the small ciderhouse bar, mixologists create spectacular cider cocktails, and it’s all served alongside complex and subtle cheese pairings and a rotating farm-to-table food menu suitable for a date or splendid pairing experience. Wildcraft deserves far more press and travel than it has been getting. 390 Lincoln St, Eugene, OR 97401 (541) 735-3506
photo from everydayvoyager.com
Rack & Cloth (Mosier, OR)
Rack & Cloth is the hidden gem of the Oregon cider scene, founded in 2012 in Mosier and named after the traditional cider press used to press all of the juice. The cidery crafts complex, interesting artisinal small batch ciders of the variety that true cider geeks and experts really nerd out on. Yes Rack & Cloth only produces cider once a year in autumn when the apples are in their prime. Washed and sorted and pressed they ferment in various vessels, including a traditional French Oak foudre and a 30 gallon oak barrel. This cider is not filtered or fined like many modern and mass produced ciders; it truly is an alive and artisinal brand. Rack & Cloth is a true destination in Mosier for the tasting room that offers growler fills and farm-to-table food alongside fresh fruit, vegetables, and eggs from the farm and wine from neighbors at Coyote Wall. 1104 First Ave.
Mosier, OR 97040 (541) 965-1457 http://rackandcloth.com/
Bushwhacker Cider Woodlawn
Bushwhacker Cider (Brooklyn and Woodlawn locations in Portland)
It’s impossible to underscore the importance of Bushwhacker on Oregon and Portland’s cider community in general. It was Portland’s first cidery when it opened in 2010, and was quite possibly the first cider taphouse in the country. Love or hate the housemade small batch cider, it doesn’t matter because Bushwhacker has been bringing in world class ciders from across the world and opening the eyes and palates of drinkers that paved the way for the next wave of cideries. The cidery’s original location is in an unassuming small business strip off of traffic heavy Southeast Powell Boulevard in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Portland. From what it lacks in exterior setting, it makes up for inside with murals, rustic cider and apple related artwork and artifacts, a patio, and a pub atmosphere with comfy chairs, darts, and bar snacks. They have by far the best cider bottle selection in town and probably the state at over 300, along with 8 rotating cider taps and sometimes the Little Oven pizza cart outside.
In 2015 Bushwhacker opened a second location dubbed Bushwhacker Woodlawn for the neighborhood in Northeast Portland where it is located. This spot is a much nicer modern green eco building with lots of salvaged wood, plenty of outside seating and even more bar games inside. What the Bushwhacker Woodlawn location lacks in bottle selection of the original location it makes up for with an actual kitchen, more taps, and spirits and cider cocktails. Both locations are worth visiting, and not just two locations of the same thing. Bushwhacker Cider Brooklyn 1212-D SE Powell Blvd. Portland, OR 97202 503-445-0577. Bushwhacker Cider Woodlawn 901 NE Oneonta St. Portland, OR 97211 971-229-1663 http://www.bushwhackercider.com
The Gorge White House
The Gorge White House (Hood River, OR)
This stately 100 year old manor looks like it once was the home of a Confederate general, but was instead was a 1908 Dutch Colonial home that now serves as a wine and cider tasting room in the Columbia River Gorge. This is a destination spot for tourists hitting the so-called “Fruit Loop” trying fresh fruit from the orchards, sampling wines, beers, and ciders, and taking in the beautiful views just an hour and 20 minutes outside of Portland. This is a true mom-and-pop style shop and tourist attraction with a gift store that sells jams, syrups, vinegars, nuts, and snacks, local art, cards, fruit labels, books in addition to the alcoholic beverages, growler fills and bottles. The cidery makes seven of its own hard ciders here in addition to over 25 wineries: Dry Newton Apple, Tart Cherry, Perry, Lemon Perry, Apple-Pear, Blueberry and Mixed Berry all range in sweetness. Gorge White House ciders are started with apple or pear juice and finished fresh fruit purees. Sample the offerings in a converted farm with mountain views of the Hood River Valley. However, like many of these farm-based cideries, it is only open seasonally, so make sure to call ahead. 2265 Highway 35 (Mailing: PO Box 798) Hood River, Oregon (541) 386-2828 http://thegorgewhitehouse.com
2 Towns Ciderhouse Tasting Room (Corvallis, OR)
2 Towns Ciderhouse has ridden and lead the wave of the modern cider craze from its base in Corvallis since 2010. In 2012 the cidery, founded by three childhood friends, planted its own orchard along the Willamette River. 2 Towns is unapologetically making American ciders, usually of the semi-sweet variety, but is not afraid to experiment with common and unusual fruits and spices and small batch wild and ice ciders. Some of my favorites are the Ginja Ninja (one of the best ginger ciders), Rhubarbarian (full of slightly tangy and ethereal fruity fresh pressed NW rhubarb), and the recently released Prickle Me Pink (a gorgeously neon pink cider brewed with Prickly Pear Cactus). Many do not know that the cidery operates a small tasting room and meeting room/party room at the original location on the outskirts of Corvallis. It’s worth visiting not only for their standard ciders, bottles, and growlers, but a ton of smaller batch hand-crafted stuff with more traditional cider apples, wild yeasts, barrel-aged and other expensive or experimental stuff. Available in 500ml bottles, 12oz cans and draft. 2 Towns Ciderhouse Tap Room 33930 SE Eastgate Cir, Corvallis, OR 97333 (541) 207-3915 2townsciderhouse.com/
Photo credit firkinbeer.com
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (Portland, OR)
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider was founded in Portland in 2011 by homebrewer Nat West and has quickly taken the Northwest cider scene by storm. Nat West began making cider at his home in 2004 after making apple everything, from pies, to sauce and butter, before deciding to try his hand at hard cider, which soon became his obsession. (Nat claims to have the largest cider book library in Portland.) He quickly found that his obsession was in experimenting with different flavors and creating ciders that no one else was making. Since moving the operation from nano cidery in his basement to a warehouse and public taproom in Northeast Portland, he has been putting out dozens and dozens of strange and unique creations and has claimed the mantle of the largest cidery in Portland. Traditionalists may find Nat’s cider off-putting–he does not follow the rules or use traditonal cider apples, he often puts weird ingredients or blends with beer, juice, or soda, and has made perhaps the hoppiest double IPA-like cider ever. Here are some of Nat’s favorites out of his strangest:
Kumiss Mongolian Milkwine (aka Portland Drinking Cheese): Not technically a cider. Fermented milk with no sugar added. Traditional Mongolian/Kazakhstan drink from horse’s milk.
¡Tepache!: Again, not a proper cider, but an authentic Mexican drink made from fermented macerated pineapple.
Bourbon-Barrel Aged Hellfire: Due to be released in late 2016. Boiled apple juice for 18 hours, reducing it to 1/3rd its original volume, then fermented it to 16% ABV, now aging in Old Forester Bourbon barrels.
7 Deadly Sins ENVY: Collaboration with Barley Brown’s, a triple-IPA style cider, made at Hopworks, kettled/whirlpool/hopback just like beer with an extreme amount of hops.
Angel of Death: Facto-Fermented (preserved) lamb’s leg via bacteria harvested from Olympic Provisions salami, then used to ferment cider, keeping the lamb leg in the cider for three months (cooked the lamb like ceviche)
Feta Cheese & Spearmint in Holy Water(melon): Each year Rev Nat’s make a fresh watermelon juice cider. For a special Randall night, the cider is infused with feta cheese and spearmint, in an ode to the classic summer melon salad.
and “Gazpacho”: tomato juice, onion juice, spices in the previously mentioned Tepache
Open your mind (and your mouth) a little bit and you can find some mindblowing creations and the occasional traditional artisinal Gravenstein or Kingston Black hard cider in bottles. Definitely check out the tasting room, located centrally near the Rose Quarter and Lloyd Center Mall. 1813 NE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97212 (503) 567-2221
Bull Run Cider Taproom (Forest Grove, OR)
Bull Run Cider is another one of Oregon’s great cideries, sourcing fruit from its own orchards around the Willamette Valley, growing over 60 different types of apples. Bull Run uses traditional English and French cider apples, but also some dual purpose American apples and has its own pear orchards as well. Located less than 40 minutes outside of Portland, the artisan cidery is unique in that it owns both apple orchards and a nursery where owners Pete Mulligan, Shaun Shepherd, and cider maker Galen Williams can control the harvest and production methods and experiment with traditional cider apple stock. Bull Run makes mostly refreshing dry ciders with different flavors in blends of apples, single varietal Gravenstein, and Oregon fruit sourced ciders like Bramble Berry and Criikside Cranberry Perry. There is also a Pear Ice Wine. Bull Run finally opened a cider tap room in April of 2015, and though it’s only open weekends it has became a great gathering place to enjoy cider and live music including touring bands. 2225 Cedar St. Forest Grove, OR 97116 503-992-8001 http://www.bullruncider.com
Portland Cider House (Portland, OR)
Located on the busy and trendy SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland Cider Co. is a true taphouse in that it makes no bones about being about anything else. The large number of taps rotate ciders mostly from the Pacific Northwest, including those of its owner, Jeff Parrish, who also founded Portland Cider Co. in Oregon City. The Cider House does not do bottles, beers, or a kids play area; even the food is just the minimum to allow all-ages during the day. It’s all about the cider flights here, so choose your own and enjoy it on one of the many group tables that Jeff Parrish built himself. The space is colorful and full of eclectic cider paraphernalia, visual art and cider signage. 3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214 (503) 206-6283
Atlas Cider Tasting Room photo from Yelp
Atlas Cider Tasting Room (Bend, OR)
Though located in what many call Beertown USA, the Atlas Cider Co. has managed to dig in a strong foothold into Bend, a small city known for the wealth of outdoor activities and the jam packed amount of breweries for such a small place. Founder Dan McCoy is an outdoorsman, snowboarder, and skater who left his day job as a teacher to open Atlas Cider after discovering craft beer and then cider. Atlas Cider Co.’s brands keep it pretty simple and relatively low alcohol, from the Session Apple Cider at 5.8% and semi-sweet to fruited ciders like POM-Cherry (pomegranates and cherries) to Apricot and Blackberry Cider. The reason the cidery makes this list as a top cider destination is more for the tasting room than anything. It is one of the most built-out full experiences in Oregon, not just a shell to sample the ciders. At the Atlas Cider Co. Tasting Room in the Bend Old Mill Marketplace you can enjoy live music on Fridays, a game of pool with friends, arcade games, and even a beer. 550 SW Industrial Way Bend, Oregon http://www.atlascider.com
Blue Mountain Cider Patio
Blue Mountain Cider Tasting Room (Milton-Freewater, OR)
Blue Mountain Cider in Milton-Freewater is one of the state’s largest and most successful cideries, and that is largely because of the easy access to orchards and its own cider apples. Blue Mountain makes one dry, two semi-dry, and a number of fruited ciders in its regular lineup. Blue Mountain Cider was founded in 2003 by the family-run parent company, Earl E. Brown & Sons, also located in Milton-Freewater, a successful family-run cider grower and apple packaging plant that began in 1977. Blue Mountain opened its tasting room in 2007 and grew to produce cider for five other private labels in addition to the house brand. The Brown family also makes wine, and the tasting room is similar to the winery tasting rooms you will find in the valley. Every Thursday there are special ciders and $4 pints, and in the summer there is a beautiful patio with live music and food trucks. Watermill Building at 235 E Broadway in Milton-Freewater, Oregon 541-938-5575 http://www.drinkcider.com