For the next five days, until Feb. 6, Portland will swim drunkenly in cider. About 1,000 cider makers and aficionados will swarm to Portland for CiderCon, the biggest event in the country to celebrate alcoholic apples.
Portland has become the epicenter of the nationwide cider boom, with the most cider drinking per capita, but this is the first time Portland has hosted the event—even though it was founded in 2011 in Salem, way back in the early days of American cider, which we can hardly even remember today.
Much of CiderCon isn't for the public—and frankly, you don't want to sit in on a seminar about federal cider licensing. But, with this many cider makers in town, there's a whole world of cider events throughout the city, with ciderheads from all over the world attending and rare ciders you won't see again. Here are the best cider parties in town. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
TUESDAY, FEB. 2
Cider Riot Tap Takeover
Portland garagiste cidermaker Cider Riot—moving into a new, vastly larger Couch Street location this year—will kick off the public side of CiderCon in Portland with a 15-tap takeover at Apex, including ciders with Imperial yeast, ciders with special English-style cider pears. Apex, 1216 SE Division St., 273-9227, apexbar.com. 4 pm.
Bailey's Taproom Takeover
Pretty much all week until Saturday, downtown beer bar Bailey's will be rolling deep with cider—including four at a time from Reverend Nat's. Bailey's Taproom, 213 SW Broadway, 295-1004, baileystaproom.com.
Cider and Oyster Pairing
Olympia Oyster Bar brings in some very gorgeous oysters' and the Swift Cider owner and maker Aidan Currie will be on hand from 7-9 pm to pair them with some fine ciders. Expect very complicated things, like Hama Hama oysters with pickled golden raisins, cured castelvaltrano olives, toasted marcona pairing with the Swift marionberry, crevettes with Old Bay pairing with the dank hop, guiajillo peppered oysters coming up on the apple. Hit the happy hour, which they call "recess", from 4-6 pm. Olympia Oyster Bar, 4214 N. Mississippi Ave.,841-6316, olympiaoysterbar.com.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 3
Finnriver Cider Social
Finnriver Cidery, despite being in Washington and therefore the enemy, is one of the greatest cider makers in the country—and they're throwing down lots of rare ciders at the very first dedicated cider bar in the country, Bushwhacker Brooklyn. Expect a hot toddy made with 18.5 percent ABV apple brandy, cider made with artisanal wasabi, ginger cider, cider fermented with rice and, especially, a flight of Finnriver's ultra-rare Crew Selection ciders that will include Basque-style, soured and aged ciders. Bushwhacker Brooklyn, 1212 SE Powell Blvd., Suite D, 445-0577, bushwhackercider.com. 6-9 pm.
Reverend Nat and Tom Oliver
Consider this the most essential cider event of the night. Tom Oliver's cider company in Herefordshire, England—Oliver's—is considered one of the best in his country. Oliver will be on hand at Reverend Nat's, considered one of the best in our country. More importantly, alongside his other ciders and perries, Oliver will be pouring a 10-year-old Herefordshire Dry, unavailable in America probably forever, except tonight. Reverend Nat's Taproom, 1813 NE 2nd Ave., 567-2221, reverendnatshardcider.com. 8-10 pm.
Finnegan and Locust Cider Tap Takeover
Lake Oswego-based Finnegan planted 3,000 trees that grow the tannic cider apples of England and France that remain rare in these parts—essentially, making estate cider a stone's throw from Portland. Their bottles are like $10 or $20 apiece, however. So, taste them here instead. Locust, from Woodinville, Wash.—which makes ginger, cherry, dry and bittersweet ciders—will also be on hand, and the Big North Duo will play live starting at 6 pm. Portland Cider House, 3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 206-6283, portlandcider.com. 5-8 pm.
WildCraft, Swift, Red Tank
Along with ciders from Portland's Swift—home to excellent hopped ciders—and Bend's Red Tank, Civic Taproom will play host to the ciders of WildCraft, a Eugene cidery devoted to wild-fermented ciders. What this means, in practice, is that the flavors are much, much more intense than almost any other ciders you'll find. There is both reward and risk in this. Cider rep Kolin Leishman will be on hand. Civic Taproom, 621 SW 19th Ave., 477-4621, thecivictaproom.com. 5-8 pm.
Thursday, Feb. 4
You've heard of Pink Boots, the brewing society devoted to promoting women in the beer industry? Well, this is Pomme Boots. For apples. The newly formed group is looking to get more women into the boozy fruit game, and is holding a meet and greet in the lobby of the downtown Hilton, where a load of cider maker events are taking place. They will then adjourn to HopCity Tavern inside the Hilton. Portland Hilton, 921 SW 6th Ave., 226-1611. 5:30-7:30 pm.
Portland Cider Company's Deron Davenport
Portland Cider Company is down in the industrial wilds of Oregon City—and moving soon to Clackamas—but their cider maker, Deron Davenport, will come up to Portland Cider House on Hawthorne to talk about how the cider gets made. Expect stories about crushing things with forklifts and pallets. Portland Cider House. 6-8 pm.
Cherry Poppin' Daddies
Yeah, that's right: the "Zoot Suit Riot" itself, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, will play a cider ball. Last year, they played with the Oregon Symphony. This year, they're playing with ciders—some of which will likely be cherry—from 2 Towns in Corvallis. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside St., 206-7630, bossanovaballroom.com. 8 pm. $10.
Baird & Dewar, Cider Riot, Les Vergers de la Collines, Alpenfire
Oh, man. That's a good bunch of ciders. If you missed local English-style cidery Cider Riot's takeover of Apex on Tuesday, expect some pickups here. And Baird & Dewar makes wonderful dry farmhouse ciders. But you're probably here for Les Vergers de la Collines, a Quebecois cidre company so French their English looks funny on their website. Civic Taproom. 6 pm-midnight.
Aeppeltreow—which means "apple tree" in the Entish language of Wisconsin forests—is a fine, clean-tasting, well-regarded winery cider we're told often approaches Champagne. Its maker, Charles McGonegal, will be on hand in the Northeast Portland Bushwhacker to pour some cider, perry and fortified wine. Bushwhacker Woodlawn, 901 NE Oneonta St., 971-229-1663, bushwhackercider.com. 6-9 pm.
Friday, Feb. 5
Rare Cider Party
Friday's itinerary is clear, and it begins at Reverend Nat's with 12 or more taps of rare ciders from Nat's, Finnriver, Alpenfire, Far Afield and more, plus collaboration projects from breweries like Cascade, Phantom Carriage and Coalition. Expect ciders and hybrids you will never see again. Reverend Nat's Taproom. 4-11 pm.
Skimmity Hitchers live at Cider Riot!
Be the first of your friends to see Cider Riot's new warehouse cidery space catty-corner from Burnside Brewing's loading dock, as the mighty Scrumpy & Western band, Skimmity Hitchers, plays (see page 17). Expect plenty of local cider, especially Cider Riot, and some very nonlocal cider, like Oliver's, Cranborne Chase, New Forest Traditional and Talbot Harris. Cider Riot!, 807 NE Couch St., 662-8275. 8 pm. $5 cheap!
Saturday, Feb. 6
Bauman's Cider Release
This Portland cider has never been seen on earth before—until you drink it here, that is. Cider maker Christine Walter will launch a new local cider company here at Bushwhacker. You can say you knew her back when. Bushwhacker Brooklyn. 4-7 pm.
Go: CiderCon is Feb. 2-6. Full listings of events open to the public are at ciderconference.com/events.