Review: Portland Cider Summit 2012

June 26, 2012

The last weekend was the second time Portland has had a Cider Summit. Last year, it was earlier in June, and it was difficult competing with the Portland Fruit Beer Festival and Rose Festival Parade. Having it a little later was actually much easier.

I volunteered this time, the first time I’ve ever done so for a festival. I got there at about 10:30, and it was raining and the company setting up the tents were running behind schedule. I was given a choice between pouring JK Scrumpy or Samuel Smith, and I took the Scrumpy (later, I walked past the Samuel Smith table, and the servers were bored as nobody was drinking it, whereas I couldn’t even find the time to eat I was so busy pouring). We had a little pow wow about serving and what not, and I was issued a temporary OLCC servers license for the day.

I was sharing a table with Woodchuck Cider, and we were under the edge of two tents because 2 Towns Cider on the other side of the tent decided to set up their table with lots of room. Apparently, those tents are designed exactly for four tables, and if you set up a table with space, then they don’t all fit in under the tent. It left me annoyed at 2 Towns at their luxurious greed, and I had run out to the car to get a towel to keep the table wiped down. I also found a plastic sack to put my things in to keep them dry. Bless the gal from Woodchuck – she got me hot chocolate to help warm up in the morning, and later gave me two free tastings of cider when my shift was over.

The gates were finally opened to the public around 11:15 or so, and the weather got nicer and stayed that way until about 3:00 when my shift was over. Fortunately, being late spring/early summer, a rain shower this time of year only lasts 30 min, maximum, and the rest of the afternoon/evening was nice again.

So I was serving three ciders: JK Scrumpy, JK Scrumpy Winter Solstice, and Thistlly Cross Cider. I actually hadn’t tasted the last two, and I had no glass, so the spiel I ended up giving was sort of based on reactions and feed back I was getting. I did have a group of three come through and get one of each, and I had them taste them in front of me to hear a side by side comparison. So if a person came up to my table and asked me what I was serving, this is how my spiel went:

I have here three ciders that are all sweet. Thistlly Cross is from Scotland, and is the driest I have, but it is still sweet. Next, I have JK Scrumpy from Michigan, which is what I usually give my friends who are new to cider. It is a good beginner’s cider. The Solstice is the same cider, but with vanilla, maple syrup, and cinnamon added. People have been commenting that it is like apple pie or Christmas.

By the end of my shift at 3pm, the event was completely out of Solstice and was running low on Thistlly Cross. It seemed to me that the men seemed to like Thistlly Cross better, and women liked the Scrumpy, but everyone loved the Solstice. I did manage to snag a tasting from the last bottle of Solstice, but I sort of gulped it down, as being a server, one is constantly working. It was even hard to find time to eat lunch!

Here are my tasting notes:

  • JK Scrumpy Solstice: very much like apple pie, though a little on the sweet side even for my taste.
  • Thistlly Cross: it is sweet, but kind of bland. Not much else to say about it.
  • Woodchuck Farmhouse Select 91: It is a nice a light cider, a little bland, but balanced. Better than Thistlly Cross.
  • Woodchuck White Belgium Cider: I liked this Wit inspired cider, which had orange and coriander made with Belgium yeasts. I could taste the orange, but it was subtle and smooth, not overpowering.
  • Reverend Nat’s Revival Cider: This is a nice dry cider.
  • Finnegan Dry Cider: a former Peter Mitchel classmate of mine, I had once suggested to them that they make a dry cider to sell at a local restaurant, who wanted a dry cider and was therefore was serving a nasty tasting British import cider (I had taught a cidermaking class that day with samples, and that was the worst one of the day). I actually liked Finnegan’s Dry Cider better than Reverend Nat’s cider, but it had a higher amount of acid. If one doesn’t like acid, Reverend Nat’s would be better. I was also kind enough to take over pouring here for five minutes to allow him a break, and accidently left my note book behind. When I realized it later and went back to retrieve it, my note book had been amended to contain the words, “and so good” next to this entry.
  • Traditions Ciderworks Amity: This is, I guess, the premium line up from 2 Towns Cider, and was the only cider that cost me two tickets, which I’m not really sure it was deserving of. I didn’t have my notebook at this time, so I didn’t get to jot anything down.
  • Reverent Nat’s Deliverance Ginger: This was actually the same as his Revival Cider, but with ginger flavoring. I liked the dry cider better and didn’t feel that the ginger added anything, but I’m slowly beginning to think that about all ginger ciders. I meant to get back to his Hallelujah Hopricot, but I didn’t make it.
  • Calton Cyderworks had a new cider which I didn’t write the name down on. I believe it was aged in whiskey barrels, which kind of gave it hints vanilla/caramel. I didn’t even notice until he pointed it out, but this was actually a still cider, and yet it was very pleasant.

One more thing that I want to add is that I think the best display went to Alpenfire Ciders. I liked their log.

Further Reading:

One Response to “Review: Portland Cider Summit 2012”

  1. […] August 10-11, 2012 was the first ever Vancouver Brewfest. Since it was the first one, my husband Burtle and I signed up to do a shift pouring some beer. Well, after a few organizing snafus, we got there and looked at the list of brewers. I thought this thing would be Burtle’s choosing, but he didn’t feel strong enough about selecting any of the breweries to be a server for, so I choose Woodchuck Cider. If you recall, I had stood next to Woodchuck at the 2012 Portland Cider Summit. […]

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