Bauman’s on Oak Brings Elevated Complex Cider and Farm-Fresh Bites to Inner Southeast

Bauman’s offers multiple ciders that are balanced and dry, relying on the earthiness of terroir and apple tannins.

Bauman's (Chris Nesseth)

Portland is one of the top hard cider markets in the country, but it hasn’t felt that way for a while. According to the American Cider Association, the cider industry is flourishing, but here in Portland, a rash of local closures over the past few years (Reverend Nat’s, New West Cider, Alter Ego) has left the city with limited cidery options. Lucky for the devoted applephiles, Bauman’s, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most respected cideries, has relocated much of its production away from its Willamette Valley home base to its new taproom in Southeast, opening one of the most impressive cider houses the city has ever had.

Bauman’s Cider on Oak is a large boxy structure in the heart of East Portland, right on the downward curve of Southeast Sandy Boulevard. It’s the former home of Base Camp Brewing, which thrived for a decade before closing in 2021. (This was a few years after owner Justin Fay was arrested after greeting police officers while wielding an illegal make of an AR-15 assault rifle.) After that, it became Ecliptic Brewing’s Moon Room, but that was gone by 2023. Now it’s Bauman’s turn in the space.

From the taproom’s west-facing steps, you can glimpse the Portland skyline and catch some killer sunsets before the blinding rays begin to cast deep shadows and cool-blue hues. That last bit of daylight streams into the taproom, emphasizing the spacious open bar, handmade tables and an array of plant life coming straight from Bauman’s greenhouse. The slight elevation makes for stepping down from the taproom to enter a completely enclosed and bamboo-lined cider garden.

Owing to the space’s roots as a brewery, Bauman’s is equipped with 30 draft lines but doesn’t rely on beer to fill them. Bauman’s own ciders, which take up roughly half the lines, aren’t the sweet fruit-forward flavors many expect in modern-day ciders. Instead, they’re balanced and dry, relying on the earthiness of terroir and apple tannins or the natural acidity of single-apple varietals to guide the flavor profiles.

There are plenty of directions to go on the taplist, from berry-forward to barrel-aged or funky hybrids. One of the most popular choices has been the mainstay Idaho 7 ($8), one of the rare dry-hopped ciders that has the slightly funky and herbaceous nose of a pale ale combined with tart apple and notes of muddled mint and grapefruit rind.

The bounty of berries grown on Bauman’s Farm & Garden are highlighted in the spring flavor Boysenberry Lemonade ($8), which pours a gorgeous magenta hue and smells like watermelon and lemon candies. (Soon it will shift to a summer Tayberry flavor.) Pomme nerds might gravitate toward the must-try Reine des Pommes ($8), a French blend of apples with a bright and juicy acidity and whispers of daffodils, juniper and woodruff.

If you’re longing for all these herbaceous earthy notes without the alcohol, Bauman’s also makes nonalcoholic offerings, including sparkling waters in flavors like Pineapple Ginger, Grapefruit Sage and Lavender Lemon.

Then, of course, there’s the food. Bauman’s edible offerings seem designed for elevated grazing, with flavors that don’t overpower the cider’s sometimes delicate notes. The starters should not be ignored, beginning with the house-baked sourdough bread ($7), served thick-cut with a crusty skin and a side of caramelized onion butter. (You will need seconds.) I can’t pass up a good pickle plate ($12), especially with veggies coming from the farm and cider in the brine that coats crunchy carrot and asparagus spears, spicy radish wedges, and shaved celery-root chips. These eclectic veggies make a great spread, served with an herbed dip and a dollop of olive oil.

If you’re really hungry, the closest thing to an ordinary sandwich is a baked-to-perfection crab roll ($16) with thick meaty bites slathered in a briny cream sauce and topped with a heap of chives packed on toasted potato bread. On another plate, asparagus ($18) from the farm is the star of the show, presented in a fence-like row of spears cooked al dente with chunks of golden russet potatoes, all bathing in a not-too-sweet stew of buttery and tangy green-garlic-shoot hollandaise sauce. The topping of hand-shredded cheese, chives and a sprinkle of bacon chunks gives the dish a balanced perfection. The most filling item is probably the braised pork ($24), which is the only non-pescatarian item on the menu. Served in a wide shallow bowl, it’s a hearty stew of shredded braised pork, mayocoba beans and creamed leeks in a savory herbed broth.

Bauman’s on Oak, with its patio and dining area, is set to become a summer oasis and national cider destination in the middle of a gritty stretch of inner Southeast that had trouble drawing even the locals to the neighborhood. In contrast to Portland’s saturated market of pub-grub breweries and snack-plate-based wineries, Bauman’s Cider takes a farm-minded approach with complex ciders and dining that should appeal to fans of fermentation looking for something different.

EAT: Bauman’s on Oak, 930 SE Oak St., 2–8 pm Thursday, 2–9 pm Friday and Saturday, 2–8 pm Sunday.

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