Portland’s infamous Cider Riot is looking to sell and it doesn’t have anything to do with antifascists or proud boys. Abram Goldman-Armstrong opened Cider Riot as a nano operation out of his garage in 2013 and didnt take long to expand into a production facility and taproon on NE Couch. Unfortunately, the company’s expansion in 2016 proved too costly and left the company without capital and in a tight market with too much competition. Cider Riot is listed for sale at $700,000 – $875,000 and production has been 1K barrels a year but the facility is built to handle up to 5K. Portland’s Woodbox Cider also went up for sale earlier this year and closed in August. Cider Riot famously has been the site of several illegal incidents regarding far right group from Vancouver, WA – the Proud Boys.
Goldman-Armstrong is in the middle of a one million dollar lawsuit against the proud boys leader Joey Gibson in a high profile fight that has ignited the comment sections on The Oregonian, Willamette Week and other mainstream publications. Recently, the Portland Police Department has began arresting members of the Proud Boys that were involved with a May 1st 2019 assault at Cider Riot that have lead to the lawsuit. Members of the alt-right have used this incident and past gatherings at Cider Riot to attempt to tarnish the cidery’s reputation by leaving negative comments and reviews on yelp, facebook and other outlets. To a certain extent it seems to have worked, even mainstream publications are referring to Cider Riot as an antifascist bar, which leaves one to wonder what local pubs are pro fascist? Most of the negative comments online that criticize Cider Riot are by people that have likely never been there and likely do not even live in Oregon. In reality, the intimate taproom is a quiet place to enjoy a traditional dry cider, the kind that are flavored by apples and not as popular these days.
I reached out to Abram Goldman-Armstrong to with him good luck, and also ask about the future of Cider Riot and what has lead him to seek a buyer.
Q: Do you plan to stay open for awhile if you do not have a buyer?
Abram: We’ll stay open as long as we can, it’s been a struggle ever since we did the expansion in 2016, all our money went into build out and we didn’t have any left for sales and marketing. We need a pretty significant infusion of capital in order to stay open much beyond October.
Q: Why have you decided to get out of ownership [of the cidery]?
The members of the LLC thought that it would attract more interest as a complete sale rather than looking for more equity investment. I’d love to find a buyer that would want to keep me on as a minority partner.
Q: What is the next thing for you?
Hopefully I can find a buyer who wants to keep me on as a cidermaker. I love what I do, but after three years without a paycheck I need to be compensated for my labor. I think it’s no secret that I believe strongly in a fair day’s pay for a fair days work. I’ve been doing this to support my employees and my community as I believe that the cider I make and pub we operate makes life better for others. I would like it to also be able to pay me. Other than that I don’t really have a plan, I have plenty of options, make cider for someone else, work in a brewery, go back to swinging a hammer, emigrate to Cider Country, write the great Cascadian novel, I honestly don’t know, Cider Riot has been my identity for the last six years.
Q: What would you say to people who think this has something to do with the proud boys incidents?
If I can be a bit flippant, I’d tell them to stop reading the comments section on Oregon Live and get a grip on reality. This has everything to do with the difficulty and expense of navigating the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services red tape. The time we spent waiting for building permits and digging a $40,000 hole in the ground for a wastewater sampling vault really crushed us. I hate to be one of those typical “Portland is hostile to small business” business owners, but it really is. Reverend Nat’s has been waiting on their permits to start buildout on their new spot since September 2017, but if you want to build a condo and have the deep pockets they roll out the red carpet for you rather than tie you up in red tape. We spent every penny we had and more on the build out, with no money left to do sales and marketing, which are key to growing a brand beyond the organic growth that got us to 1000 barrels a year. We took on debt and were never able to sell enough to get out of it.
Q: What is the status of the lawsuit and will the outcome effect your business staying open or selling?
The DA is in the process of convicting the Patriot Prayer members for the crimes they committed on May Day. If we won the lawsuit and were awarded the damages sought, and received them in time we would definitely use the funds to stay open, invest in a bigger glycol chiller, more sales and marketing folks, etc. It would be great to get compensated for the fear and chaos that hate group has caused to our cidery and our community. The reality is that lawsuits take a long time, it’s not a part of our capitalization strategy, as they say, but I would love to spend the money of those hatemongers to do something good for the community.
Cider Riot’s pub remains open for business and their ciders are available in cans and bottles through Maletis Beverage in Oregon. 807 NE Couch St, Portland, OR 97232.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.
His cider is fabulous and has been from day one, from his garage days. His taproom was not done very well nor thought out, at least when we used to go the first few months it was open. Then add the City of Portland headaches to boot. To his defense, we didn’t go back to the cidery after the first few months so it may have become a better place to hang out. Then when the cidery became known for the Antifa connection no way was I going to expose my family to that risk. I know that’s a bit over-dramatic but wasn’t worth the potential with other great cidery’s in this area.
He’s a great guy and an amazing cider-maker and hope he lands on his feet.
Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:06 PM
there really is no antifa risk, as I said in the article that is a completely overblown accusation the right wing has tried to portray. The taproom is a unique space but that is due to the logistics of the building and money and time it would take to make any drastic changes (linking back to the responsibility the city plays in this unfortunate circumstance.)
Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:16 PM
You’re being slightly glib, aren’t you? Antifa may not be an actual problem at Cider Riot, but they’re just as much a problem in Portland as the Proud Boys.
Also you may be confusing Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer with the Proud Boys. They’re two different groups.
Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:51 PM
No, I dont think so. The Antifa havent been much of a problem to anyone except the Proud Boys/Patriot Prayer (which are pretty much the same thing). Maybe I am missing something but I dont know of any antifa related incident outside of their standing up to the despicable movement that is mostly coming from outside of our own state. The problem for Portland is Proud Boys and that lot coming unwanted into our city and starting trouble. I’d remind you that they came to Cider Riot looking for trouble, the antifa didnt go to Vancouver.
Fri Sep 20, 2019 6:20 PM
The Cider Riot put up pictures on its own page of Antifa hanging out in full riot gear.
One member walked after the crowd with brass knuckles.
Joey Gibson and Andy Ngo was maced by Antifa from the Cider Riot bar property..
The Owner stood at the front door of his bar and did nothing to stop Antifa.
A College Kid doing an assignment was attacked and had his phone or camera busted right in front of the Owner who dud nothing to stop the Antifa terrorists.
Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:46 PM
If you know anything about the law or OLCC you would know that all the bar and owner are allowed to do is call the police. If they got involved in this then they would likely lose their license, possibly go to jail and get sued. If the antifa people were there and starting this, how come it’s the proud boys getting arrested and prosecuted?
Sun Sep 22, 2019 5:12 PM
If you look at the court documents there are claims and counterclaims meaning both parties are suing each other.
Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:25 AM
anyone can sue anyone, thats pretty meaningless. The police have charged and are prosecuting members of the Proud Boys.
Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:53 AM
Just out of curiosity— do you always defend fascists, who claim to be anti-fascists? This guy is a leftwing provocateur and promoter of a radical ideology that attacks: police, innocent humans, elderly, women, gay conservatives, journalists, and anyone who dares to disagree with their polluted, unfounded, and fictional enemies..
Yet here you are, defending this scumbag. Strange.
Tell me, who incited the riots on May Day? Who was responsible for the $2,000,000 in damages done to the Pearl during the Jan 20 riots? Was it Proud Boys or Gibson? Who incited the riots and battle the July before last by tossing explosives into the peaceful protesters on the other side, who had just as much right to be downtown as your buddies? Who assaulted Andy? Who’s showed up to every single March that PP has had? Who was responsible for breaking windows in downtown and impeding traffic and assaulting an elderly gentleman for trying to get home from work? Please- do tell me!
I’m sure you’re familiar with YouTube, you can watch about 3 dozen different videos and see that everything I’ve said is factually accurate.
Nothing you’ve said, however, is.
Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:42 AM
Wow, where do I start…
I am actually defending Cider Riot here, not antifascists per se. I support being anti-fascist though. So no, I would not support antifa who are not actually anti-fascist. That would make no sense.
Regarding the rest of your comment. No I do not support any violence towards innocent people or property. Certainly there have been some really sad and disturbing acts by people joining the antifa groups and they should be held accountable for that. No where in this article did I defend this.
Who incited the riots? Obviously the Proud Boys and their like who marched to Portland from another state and have been asked numerous times not to come here. Not to mention they are spouting a dangerous ideology. I support the opposition to them but not unprovoked violence and destruction.
No, antifa are not my buddies. I do not even know any members of the antifa as far as I know, and no, Abe (owner of Cider Riot) is not a member of the antifa.
Last, what have I said that is factually inaccurate? You have not actually sighted any inaccuracies.