Inside the Portland International Cider Cup Awards Ceremony

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The Portland International Cider Cup (PICC), a cider competition that took place on June 19th during Oregon Cider Week, announced medal-winning ciders and more at the Inaugural PICC Awards, held on July 28th at Widmer Brothers Brewing’s (and Square Mile Cider’s) upstairs Great Room. Arriving guests were greeted with a tasty Balm of Gilead cider cocktail created by Darlene Hayes, author of Cider Cocktails – Another Bite of the Apple. The PICC was first held in 2013, originally organized by Nat West of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, with the help of a small army of like-minded friends. This year’s PICC Awards marks the first time that a separate, slightly more formal-ish party has been held to celebrate the medal winners; it was featured in a New School PICC preview in early July.

A friendly welcoming team!

A friendly welcoming team!

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Balm of Gilead recipe

Balm of Gilead recipe

Awards were given in several categories. Rather than rely on the American Homebrewers’ Association’s BJCP-defined categories, the Northwest Cider Association has chosen to compose its own list of categories for the PICC, incuding Modern Dry Cider, Modern Sweet Cider, Heritage Dry Cider, Heritage Sweet Cider, and more; a full listing can be found in the PICC styles list. Each category could be awarded up to three medals, in the standard bronze-silver-gold ranking, but judges could still reserve the right to withhold a gold medal unless they felt the winning entry was truly worthy of the top ranking. Here’s the word from Carolyn Winkler, PICC Awards MC:

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The results are in! Seven Pacific Northwest cideries took home gold medals after the Northwest Cider Association’s 4th Annual Portland International Cider Competition (PICC) Awards Party last night. Montana Ciderworks took home the competition’s highest honor — the Best In Show Award. The competition celebrates ciders crafted in the Pacific Northwest, the largest cider market in the US for consumption as well as having a quarter of the country’s cidermakers. This year, the competition entries almost doubled, growing to over 100 ciders from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, and featured 32 experienced industry judges. Within the 13 categories sampled, judges found ciders in seven categories worthy of gold medals:

  • 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Oregon – Riverwood 2013 (Modern Dry Cider)
  • Bull Run Cider, Oregon – Strawberry Fields (Fruit Cider)
  • Cider Riot!, Oregon – 1763 (English Dry Cider)
  • Elk Horn Brewery and Cider House, Oregon – Bourbon Barrel Wild Cider (Wood/Oaked Cider)
  • Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Washington – Perry (Modern Perry)
  • Montana Ciderworks, Montana – Darby Pub Cider (Modern Sweet Cider)
  • Square Mile, Oregon – Spur and Vine (Hopped Cider)

These seven ciders went on to compete in the Best of Show round, in which the head judges from each table found the Darby Pub to be the best of the best.

Gold medal cider bling! (photo by Emily Ritchie)

Gold medal cider bling! (photo by Emily Ritchie)

Grand champion Darby Cider in the trophy cup... (photo by Emily Ritchie)

Grand champion Darby Cider in the trophy cup… (photo by Emily Ritchie)

The PICC Awards also promoted a festive mood, encouraging all party-goers to dress up at least a little, with the promise of a special prize for the most well-dressed. Like their craft-brewing counterparts, cider makers tend towards the informal, but they clean up really nicely when the occasion calls.

Cider guys dressed to kill...

Izaak, Nat, Abram, Chip: Cider guys dressed to kill…

Lisa McAuliffe takes the prize for best-dressed

Lisa McAuliffe takes the prize for best-dressed

Shiny silver medal!

Shiny silver medal!

As cider continues to grow and prosper as a category, it’s a good time for cider-makers to step back and celebrate their successes. More cider events are coming up across the Pacific Northwest, as announced on the NWCA events calendar.

Don Scheidt
Don Scheidt

Don Scheidt has been into good beer since before the dawn of craft brewing in the Pacific Northwest. He created the Northwest Brewpage, a regional guide to good beer in Oregon and Washington, back in the mid-1990s, but has since retired it. Don started writing the Washington state “Puget Soundings” column for Celebrator Beer News in 1998, and continues to do that today. Don also wrote about beer for the Seattle Weekly in 2005-2006.

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