Contributor: Diana Banning is the City Archivist for the City of Portland and is a member of the host committee.
While the primary reasons for attending the conference are education and networking, many attendees are hoping for a chance to sample the excellent beer selection Portland offers. I don’t want to dissuade you from your beer, and with the Oregon Brewers Festival happening at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park during the conference, I don’t think it is possible. However, I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to Portland’s craft cider culture.
Oregon is sandwiched between the first and fifth-rated apple producing states, and according to the Northwest Horticultural Council, the Northwest region produces about 66% of the U.S. apple crop. With all of these apples, how could we not embrace cider as the next big thing? Almost every pub, bottle shop, and restaurant serves cider and is quite often one of the tap offerings. If you’re really up for some cider, I recommend that you dive right in and visit one or more of Portland’s cideries.
Most cideries have a large selection of ciders so you should find several that will suit your taste-preferences. Feel like something more dry than sweet? Perhaps you want something a bit sweet, yet super refreshing? Or maybe something a bit earthy with some body to it? And for you hop-lovers, local cider-producers have been hopping their ciders to produce the perfect fusion of beer and cider. If you can’t decide, or you just want to sample several, most places offer tasting sizes.
There are many places to enjoy cider in the city, but the list below focuses on places that are pretty close to the Convention Center, or are super-worthy of a streetcar ride or as a Lyft destination.
Closest to the Oregon Convention Center
807 NE Couch St., 503-662-8275, http://ciderriot.com/
Cider Riot produces excellent dry ciders, often incorporating interesting ingredients that provide a sweet edge.
You can either walk to Cider Riot, or catch the streetcar in front of the Convention Center on MLK, headed south and debark at Burnside. Walk east 4 blocks to NE 8th. Cider Riot is on NE Couch (1 block north of Burnside).
If you’re walking east on Burnside, consider stopping by Rontoms for a tasty cocktail, hit up Sizzle Pie for a slice to keep you going, or continue up to SE 9th and stop by the Doug Fir Lounge. If you instead walk east on SE Couch (remember, if you want to say it like a Portlander, pronounce “Couch” not like an alternative to a sofa, but like “Cooch”), drop by Burnside Brewing Company before heading to Cider Riot.
1813 NE 2nd Ave., 503-567-2221, http://reverendnatshardcider.com/
This is my top choice for cider, hands-down. Rev. Nat produces exceptional ciders, some of which are standbys and always on the menu, while others are experiments with a “what the hell, why not?” attitude when it comes to ingredients. You never know what will be on the pour list, so it’s always an adventure. If they are serving Tepache, order one – you won’t be sorry. Or if The Passion is being offered, embrace it – full of passion fruit flavor, without being sweet. Their Sacrilege Sour Cherry is pretty awesome and will bring many naysayers to the cider altar.
Rev. Nat’s is worth the little extra journey, which can start by catching the northbound streetcar on NE Grand (one block east of the Convention Center). Get off at NE Broadway and 2nd, and walk north on NE 2nd one block. If you need something to eat, just around the corner is Pine State Biscuits. Go ahead, you won’t be sorry.
A little further afield
Portland Cider House
3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-206-6283, https://www.portlandcider.com/pdxciderhouse/
Count ‘em – 28 taps. Not only can you count them, you can keep track of what they are pouring and how quickly they are running out by keeping watch of their inventory here. You can always find a selection of their own ciders, along with a great array of local offerings. As I’m viewing their current list, I see some favorites: Atlas’ Dragonfruit, Apple Outlaw’s Blackberry Bounty (also known as mama’s soda in my household), and Finnriver’s Black Currant.
You’ll probably want to Uber or Lyft here, but don’t dismay – Hawthorne Blvd offers so much to make it worth your while. Love a good thrift-shop clothing find? Hawthorne has several shops to fill your needs. Great food, too. You can also visit the McMenamins’ Bagdad theater and pub for a movie, food, and beer.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer
3646 SE Hawthorne Blvd., https://rachelsgingerbeer.com/pages/se-portland
Okay, while not a cidery, this place is not to be missed and is next-door to the Portland Cider House. This place is a gift from our neighbor to the north (aka Seattle). Their ginger beer is a common ingredient in many Portland cocktails and is pretty divine on its own. They also serve up a variety of cocktails, including an amazing Moscow Mule. Check it out!
Schilling Cider House
930 SE 10th Ave, https://www.schillingciderhouse.com/coming-soon
As of this writing, the Schilling Cider House is not yet open but will be available by the time SAA hits Portland. Based on my experiences visiting their Seattle location, I predict this place will knock my socks off. Selling only craft ciders, they are advertising 50 rotating taps, an outdoor patio, and a large selection of bottled cider.
They are situated on the Goat Blocks in a new building (for a bit of crazy Portland whimsy, check out this page for information on why it is called the goat blocks: http://thebelmontgoats.org/.)
1212-D SE Powell Blvd., 503-445-0577, http://www.bushwhackercider.com/
Portland’s first cidery, and they claim that they are the country’s original cider pub. At last count, they offer 340 bottles from around the world and they have several taps.
6719 NE 18th Ave., http://www.hiwheelwines.com/
This is definitely not a cidery, nor is it an easy trek unless you are taking Uber or Lyft; however, it is definitely worth the time and effort if you want to try out something unique. Hi-Wheel serves up handcrafted fizzy wines. Yup. Fizzy. As well as meads, beer, and cider.
So let’s get back to the whole fizzy wine thing. Right now they are serving up Black Lightning, which is black currant wine with peppercorns, chili flakes, and clove. They also have their Blackberry Habanero, Blueberry Basil, Chocolate Cherry, Death Wish Bunny (carrot wine, ginger, and chai). Don’t let the ingredients and the delightful colors scare you – this is good…stuff. Refreshing and tasty. You can also purchase bottles to take home with you.
In addition to a relaxing patio, and excellent service, they are situated next to Tamale Boy. Order some food and have it delivered to you on the Hi-Wheel side. Excellent tamales, and try their Brussel sprouts!
If you’d like to learn more about cider, here is a good blog to visit: https://cidersays.com/.