Start with a picture-perfect, quintessential NW day aboard the Edmonds Ferry. After landing in Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula, follow the scenic route across the Hood Canal Floating Bridge to Port Townsend. Make your way to the new NW Maritime Center at the end of town. Now head upstairs for a special holiday weekend treat: the third annual “Summer Cider Day” sponsored by the Northwest Cider Association.
Before my host’s invitation, I knew little about the hard cider revolution rocking the Pacific Northwest. Saturday’s event gave me the chance to learn more about the scene. 17 participating cidermakers showcased 50 of their craft creations to a thirsty public. I heard about the cider making process, sampled a few yummy ones and discovered how to evaluate my tastings along the way.
The current trend seems only natural given Washington State’s apple country. For followers of the locavore movement who value eating food locally produced, cider’s a popular choice.
Neither a beer nor a wine, cider offers a refreshing alternative to both, ranging in flavor from very sweet to bone dry. Lighter levels of alcohol and less carbonation make it an ideal pairing with heavier meals. It also works well with seafood, as I discovered over a lunch of seafood chowder and clams. The trick is to select one that matches the character of the food. For instance, consider pairing a sweet & fruity choice with a summer salad sprinkled with berries.
As the cider revolution gathers steam, expect to see more exciting creations ahead. Cidermakers continue to experiment with bittersweets (apples with high tannin and high sugar content), bittersharps (grown for high acid alone) and crossover apple varieties. Adding hints of ginger, pear, lavender and haberno create unexpected results that only whet our appetite for more.
Have you joined the cider revolution, wanderboomers? What’s your favorite?