La Familia Cider Opens in Portland Just in Time for Summer Sips

The Salem-based cidery’s signature cideritas are exactly what they sound like.

La Familia Cider La Familia Cider's pours are a tour through flavor country's sweeter side. (Eric Shelby)

You might not know it, but Portland is overflowing with cider options these days.

There’s a river of cider running through town that is making it a destination for fermented apples, from the recently opened Bauman’s on Oak, to longtime favorite producers like Schilling and bars like Cider Bite. The latest addition to this scene is La Familia, which took over the former Portland Cider Company space on Southeast Hawthorne and opened last month. La Familia’s Portland taproom is the second outpost for the Salem-based cidery that draws inspiration from the popular aguas frescas juices found throughout Mexico. The cidery’s name is fitting, since La Familia is run by José and Shani Gonzalez with the help of family members.

If you visited Portland Cider Co. in the past, you might remember the easygoing vibe and rustic wood-paneled walls bearing a resemblance to the crates one might fill with freshly harvested apples. Little has changed other than the tables now lined with colorful serapes. Of 29 taps, roughly half dispense cider, while the other half comprise a respectable but straightforward beer list.

On my visit, I sampled five La Familia ciders; hopefully additional offerings will take up more tap list real estate in the future. After a friendly flavor walk-through by the bartender, I grabbed a table by the window at what might be one of Portland’s most entertaining people-watching spots and dove into my flight.

Much like sugary aguas frescas, La Familia’s ciders ($7 for a 16-ounce draft, $14 for a flight of five 5-ounce pours) skew on the sweeter side, while mostly retaining enough balance to still appeal to those of us who prefer drier cider. Two standouts were the manzana apple—essentially straight-up cider—that was super juicy and pulled me in for more, and tamarindo, with its subtle earthiness and just the slightest bit of tart to pucker you up. The tropical flavor of the guava was almost hard to detect, but made for an easy-drinking dry cider. The almost rosé-like quality of the ¡No Manges Guey! (mango and prickly pear) evoked flavors of summer best tasted while lounging poolside. La Nina Fresa was also tasty in an almost dessertlike style, with heaps of vanilla shining through strawberry fields. La Familia also offers a small menu of Mexican food to complement the ciders, including quesadillas, tortas and a few other items. I found the nachos ($14) with beer-cheese like queso sauce to be a nice match, and I resisted the temptation to wash down my cider with an order of churros.

One of La Familia’s standout features is its use of its ciders in cocktails. These concoctions would feel right at home on the menu of any Tex-Mex joint, but here they get a Pacific Northwest twist. Cideritas are exactly what they sound like, and things get even saucier with cider-laden micheladas, palomas and mules that may serve as a way to entice your non-cider-loving friends to partake.

It remains to be seen if La Familia will fully capture the attention and taste buds of an ever-evolving drinking public constantly seeking new beverages, but it certainly adds a freshness to a diverse cider scene that just keeps growing. For now, these tasty aguas frescas feel like a welcome addition that will surely complement our long summer days.

GO: La Familia Cider, 3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 971-888-4644, Noon–8 pm Wednesday and Thursday, noon–9 pm Friday and Saturday, noon–8 pm Sunday.

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