Our favorite places to sample cider in Seattle, the San Juan Islands, and Victoria.
Cider. Sweet and crisp, it combines all the good time fun of a cold beer with a fruity flavor that’s surprisingly refreshing. Though originally the preferred beverage of American colonists, cider had lost favor among US drinkers. But a few years ago that changed. Now craft brewers throughout the North American Continent have begun embracing the craft.
Particularly popular among the gluten-free and female drinking crowds, cider is praised as the lighter and less bitter beer. It’s even been heralded as the “new wine.” Chefs have taken to pairing it with fatty fish, hearty pasta, and rich desserts.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, land of the apple orchard, brewers have been surprisingly hesitant to dabble with the crisp fruit as they’ve remained focused on hops. But as more and more give it a go, our region’s been treated to exceptional pours. These guys and gals know how to craft unique flavor profiles and they’re bringing that experience to cider. Here are some of our favorite cider destinations.
Cider in Seattle
Seattle Cider Company
The first Seattle cidery since the Prohibition, Seattle Cider Company was opened with one goal in mind – bring the true craft of cider back to Seattle. It’s done just that. Its small-batch ciders bridge the gap between beer and wine by breaking the mold. Don’t come expecting a mouth-puckering sweet pour. Using fresh-pressed, locally-grown apples, the yearly selection of Dry, Semi Sweet and Citrus hard ciders are delightful. But don’t be afraid to also dabble in the seasonal selections. Spinning into more non-traditional flavors like Pumpkin Spice and Basil Mint, they’ve created unique drinks that’ll keep you guessing.
You can find their products in stores and on tap throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. For the freshest taste, visit The Woods tasting room. Co-operated with Two Beers Brewing, this SoDo hotspot is a favorite.
Schilling & Company
Another recent addition to the Seattle cider scene, Shilling & Company’s Fremont Cider House features the largest selection of draft ciders in the nation and over 300 bottles of specialty craft cider.
Cider in the San Juan Islands
Westcott Bay Cider
Suzy and Hawk Pingree, two former communications professors at the University of Wisconsin, weren’t intending to make cider. The original goal was apple brandy. But the three-year fermentation process was a bit too much for the San Juan Island Distillery owners. They needed something to make – and drink – while they waited. In a separate bay of their converted island barn, they founded Westcott Bay Cider. They began to perfect the fine art of blending different apples into some of the best golden-amber libations you’ve ever tasted. Their brandy’s now available, but they’re still making their cider. (Thank goodness!)
Cider in Victoria
Just outside of Victoria, the orchard grounds at Merridale Ciderworks seem to be plucked from a storybook. On the fertile ground of Cobble Hill, apples grow in abundance. The large barn, for lack of a better word, is home to a bistro and cider bar. During tours you can see every step of the cider process, right down to where it’s pressed, fermented, and bottled. If you’re into cider, this one has your name written all over it.
Tod Creek Craft Cider
Recently joining the Victoria cider crew, Tod Creek Craft Cider is located just beyond Victoria’s downtown metropolis. Housed at a former dairy farm, the grounds are now home to 50 cider tree varieties. Considered a micro-cider, it produces small batches that can be purchased at the cidery and in specialty stores throughout the area.