Portland may be the promised land when it comes to beer and kombucha, but there is one fermented beverage market in which we are lagging embarrassingly behind: cider. And we're not talking that namby-pamby glorified apple juice cider—we're talking hard, put-hair-on-your-chest alcoholic cider.
Oregon produces some 130 million pounds of apples and 400 millions pounds of pears a year. Yet to date, Portland has just one cidery, Bushwacker Cider, which opened its doors late last year, while Oregon boasts only five more. "I think a lot of people's perceptions of cider is that it's a sweet alco-pop thing, and that's not true," says Bushwacker co-owner Jeff Smith.
But all this could change soon: Cider Summit NW, an annual cider tasting festival from Seattle, is coming to Portland this weekend with over 60 ciders from all over the Pacific Northwest and the world. Could a sip of these exotic elixirs trigger the city's thirst for more? WW's crack team of taste-testers boldly swigged four to find out.
Carlton Cyderworks Asian Pear
Sweet with a highly floral nose, this unfiltered cider tasted pretty much as it said on the label—like an Asian pear. Nice, but a bit unremarkable. All agreed it would need to be paired with something savory to cut through the sweetness.
Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider
Made with stout yeast and molasses, this cider is strong, buttery and confected. "Like molasses soda," said one taster. Although most agreed it would be a wonderfully warming winter drink, we followed the bottle's instructions to drink it over ice, with surprisingly good results—it was far more mellow and refreshing.
Finnriver Farm & Cidery Sparkling Apple Blueberry
Colored a striking blue from the skins of the blueberry, this one was less delicious than it sounded. The nose reminded us of sulfur, egg and compost, while the taste was tart, with apple and blueberry making for a poor marriage. "You shouldn't add blueberry to anything but muffins,â said one taster.
Wandering Aengus Dry Oaked
Highly tannic, with strong new-oak flavors, this is no easy sipping cider. "This would be terrific with blue cheese," noted one taster. "But you wouldn't drink it on its own."
GO: Cider Summit NW, Elizabeth Caruthers Park, Southwest Gaines Street and Bond Avenue, cidersummitnw.com. Saturday June 11, 11 am-7 pm. $20 in advance, and $25 at the door. 21+.
THURSDAY, JUNE 9
[MOVIE] THE PORTLAND UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL
An annual thumb to the eye of Portland's highfalutin cinephiles, PUFF stretches the limits of good taste, lights it on fire, then pukes on it—and that's before the "bike porn" screenings. Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St., 238-8899. Runs through Sunday, June 12. Multiple showtimes. $8 opening night screening, $6 all other screenings.
FRIDAY, JUNE 10
Portland Do Jump!'s physical-theater veteran Sy Parrish co-produces a show with fellow Do Jumper and former Jefferson Dancer Aaron Wheeler-Kay. What can you expect from people known for creating dances on balconies, ladders and the occasional Subaru Outback? Probably something physically tricky and unabashedly theatrical. Echo Theater, 1515 SE 37th Ave., 231-1232. 7:30 pm Friday-Saturday, June 10-11; 1 and 4 pm Sunday, June 12. $10-$20. All ages.
SATURDAY, JUNE 11
[MUSIC] LYLE LOVETT AND
How often do you get to see two acknowledged songwriting masters whose catalogs trail an embarrassment of richly nuanced treasures in one night? Both Lovett and Hiatt are compelling acoustic performers who take full advantage of the storyteller treatment. Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, 248-4335. 8 pm. $40-$68.50. All ages.
[BEER] PORTLAND FRUIT BEER FESTIVAL
Portland's newest beer festival is looking to make over fruit beer's image as a sweet, bland girly drink, with concoctions from 15 local breweries such as a mango IPA, a cherry stout and a huckleberry imperial IPA. Burnside Brewing Co., 701 E Burnside St., 11 am-9 pm Saturday,
11 am-6 pm Sunday. Free admission, $6 tasting glass plus $1 per ticket.
[GAMES] PDX GEEK OLYMPATHON
Teams of geeks create costumes, build LEGO, perform Star Trek skits and participate in other challenges around the city for a chance to win a trip for two to San Diego Comic Con. Saturday-Sunday, June 11-12. Visit pgc3.org to register and for more info.
MONDAY, JUNE 13
[THEATER] DRAMMY AWARDS CEREMONY
It's the biggest cast party of the year, as Portland actors, directors and designers, and everyone else whose profession has anything to do with the stage, gather in the Crystal Ballroom for the presentation of the Drammy Awards, honoring outstanding achievement in Portland-area theater. Crystal Ballroom,
1332 W Burnside St., drammy.org. 7 pm. Free.