PORTLAND, Oregon — Find your nearest grocery store or bottle shop — we have a list at the bottom of this article — because you’ll want to try some of the winners from the 2022 Portland International Cider Cup, the region’s biggest hard cider competition.
Nearly 250 submissions came in this year from cideries in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia. The Pacific Northwest is the largest apple-growing region of the country, making some of the best ciders in the world.
"If you like variety and you want to try something you've never had before, cider is a great place to start," said Aiden Currie, owner and founder of Swift Cider in North Portland.
Where beer has dozens of styles, cider literally has thousands, thanks to the sheer number of apple varieties — not to mention all kinds of other fruit or hops.
"Our top selling ones are Honey Crisp, Strawberry and our Pineapple Hop," Currie said.
Swift Cider, named after Portland's famous flock of migrating birds, makes 40 kinds of cider each year. And at this year's Portland International Cider Cup blind tasting, Swift won bronze in one of the fruit categories for their Blueberry cider.
"So it's apples first. You'll find Honey Crisp and Jonagold and Granny Smith then we add back more blueberries after fermentation," Currie said. "So you're going to get this sweet, fresh press blueberry character that's literally like you just took a big bin of blueberries and squeezed them into juice."
To learn more about Swift Cider or place an order online, visit their website at SwiftCider.com.
Cider Cup Winners
Cider is the only craft beverage industry to grow during the pandemic. Submissions to this year's Cider Cup surged 60% from last year.
Jana Daisy-Ensign runs the competition as manager of the NW Cider Association and NW Cider Club. She's a pommelier, which is a certified cider expert — like a sommelier for wine.
"We're seeing folks get innovative and creative. They're trying out playing with peppers, they're finding the micro-climates of their region, and they're tinkering with which apples work best," she said. "Just like you might enjoy a Zinfandel or a Syrah or Chardonnay grape in the wine world, we're finding more and more that specific apple varietals, when fermented in this way, you can really taste the nuance, the profile and you can come to find apples that you love and enjoy. And maybe you seek out again on the shelf."
For a full list of the winners so you can buy, taste and cheers to the summer, check out at the NW Cider Association's website here. To sign up for the NW Cider Club and get their quarterly boxes of interesting new ciders to try, visit nwciderclub.com.
Below, Daisy-Ensign runs through some of the top finishers:
Seattle Cider - Honeycrisp
Here's what Daisy-Ensign had to say about this gold medal winner:
"This was not only the winner for the entire best of show at our competition, it also won a gold in Modern Sweet and a gold in the single varietal for the Dessert Culinary category. So this has got a lot of accolades and this is a great cider for folks who are wondering if they love cider, or they're not sure they want to try it out. This is something that is going to be crisp and refreshing. The honey crisp apple you're probably familiar with, so it’s great to get to crack it open and enjoy it here in its cider form.”
Learn more and order at their website, or find a store to buy it at their website seattlecidercompany.com
Peak Light - Orchard Reserve Quince Cider
Another gold medal goes to Peak Light cider, made by a family on Sauvie Island. Daisy-Ensign's rundown:
“This is made with a combination of multiple different varieties of quince. This is something that the judges have been really wowed by. This might be something that you want to either crack open at the end of the day and share with friends, or maybe you want to put it at your dinner table and serve it with something that you'd like to enjoy during the summer.”
Learn more and order at their website peaklightcider.com.
Bauman's Cider - Loganberry
And a bronze goes to Bauman's Cider in Gervais for their Loganberry flavor. Bauman's, popular for their pumpkin patch and fall activities, makes many kinds of ciders which have won medals over the years.
Learn more and order at their website baumanscider.com
Bottle Shops to Look for Cider
Want to try 150+ ciders this weekend??
This weekend is the Cider Summit Portland at The Fields park in Portland's Pearl District. 150+ ciders to try with live music and food. This is a 21+ event, but there is a dog lounge for them to hang out at. It's $40 at the gate. Open Friday June 10th 3-8pm, Saturday June 11th 12-5pm. More information here.