The Schilling Cider House in Fremont (Seattle). In one word, awesome! A cider enthusiast’s paradise. 32 ciders on tap and a huge unique selection of bottled ciders. Only craft cider to be found here, no commercial stuff. They opened September 2014. Two of the taps are Nitro (nitrogenated, which adds some additional smoothness) and they also have a Randall setup (although it didn’t appear they were infusing anything that day, as no offerings were mentioned when we asked to have our suspicions confirmed). This will be a two part review, with this part covering the cider house, and a second part with tasting notes on the 18! ciders I tried. Considering I had either already tried or wasn’t interested in the remaining ciders, I think that is mildly impressive.
Thankfully I didn’t have to get too inebriated when trying the 18 ciders, as I had 12 3oz+ samplers and 6 small tastes over a couple hours, and my husband helped sip on them a bit too (although he was gracious enough to be my DD).
I apologize in advance on the quality of the photos; I am a horrible photographer and clearly need to work on that for cider blog purposes! Click to biggify the photos by the way.
They have cider available in:
– 3oz sampler for $2 each (which most folks get in a flight/tray of six)
– pint (priced individually by the cider, $5-$11 when I was there)
– growler (also priced individually by cider, and they can only do this for ciders under 7% by law, which is the vast majority of them)
Therefore the sampler size can be a good deal for some of their more expensive ciders which cost double the price of something else.
My husband and I checked out the Schilling Cider House on a Saturday, early afternoon. My husband was even nice enough to grab us some take out from a Thai place down the street (Zap Verr) during our visit. It wasn’t anything special, but highly convenient, as Schilling does not offer any food (but do allow folks to bring food in or have it delivered). I think they would do well to sell some snacks, even some chips or something easy to stock, as its hard to stay too long at a place that has alcohol but no food, even with their open food policy.
The Schilling Cider House is a great hang out spot. They even have a stack of games available. There are about six stools at the bar and the remainder are at four long tables. The decor is all cider and all Schilling. The empty kegs they keep around add a nice touch. Empty kegs were even to be found in the restroom! I was the cider geek who had to come right back to the restroom after I grabbed my phone, so I could take photos…
I was bummed to see that I missed Reverend Nat’s The Passion, as I’ve been wanting to try that.
I also missed Schilling’s own Berry cider, only available at their cider house. Although I’ll get more into the actual ciders in the second installment, I can say that I was surprised Schilling didn’t offer all their ciders on tap at their own cider house! There were eight Schilling ciders though, and a handful were ciderhouse-only (or out of season). They were at least missing their Berry, Spiced, and Oak Aged (a cider I really like and my favorite cider of their’s). Serving ciders other than their own is quite unique for a ciderhouse, but a really great idea.
However, there were definitely many cider options, from dry to sweet, for any taste. Their chalk board menu is color-coded by sweetness (dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet), and for the most part I agreed with their classifications. The taps are numbered, and you can take a business card size card and write down your selections. They definitely change often, as they switched out two taps during our visit! Their Facebook page can give you an idea of what is available, but I found it wasn’t quite up to date.
Their bottle shop is extensive (250+ selections), chock full of both local craft ciders and interesting imports. They also allow folks to buy & open a bottle there to drink, no corkage fee, although I’m not sure why you would with 32 ciders on tap! I’m surprised they didn’t have some bottled beer & soda selections, but maybe I missed them (I did however see a cold canned coffee selection). All bottles are chilled, in three triple door glass-front fridges (a very smart move on their part). There were many selections I hadn’t seen anywhere else.
I picked up five varieties (reviews forthcoming of course!). Left to right in photo below: MillStone Cellars Cobbler (Monkton MD), Aspall English Imperial Cider (Suffolk England), Attila Scourge of God (Ellensburg WA), Freyeisen Apfelwein (Frankfurt Germany), and Dragon’s Head Wild Fermented Cider (Vashon Island WA).
I could have spent an hour just reading all the bottle labels and Googling them and such, but my husband was patient enough, so I made some semi-quick (for me) selections of ciders I hadn’t seen before. They also offer some merchandise, such as t-shirts, and of course, growlers ($5 + cider fill cost).
However, of course, the main attraction is the cider itself. From what I overheard there seemed to be a mix of new & old cider lovers. We sat next to a young woman who was a tourist from New York who found them just walking by. And there was an older lady buying growlers of cider for a get together. I was surprised how busy it got as the afternoon went on (we were there about 1:30 to 3:30 pm), as I had expected it to be rather dead until the evening, but it was a weekend. Luckily we got there not too long after they opened (at noon) and were able to get two seats at the bar.
They have some great bartenders, and ours was very helpful! He kept passing us tastes of ciders, asking us what we thought. Some of them were things I wouldn’t have otherwise even ordered a taster of. I never turn down cider! I did unfortunately pushed some away we found weren’t to our taste though. They have several of what could be referred to as “novelty” ciders. Fun for a taste but I’d be shocked if someone ordered a pint.
Due to the time of our visit, I can’t comment on the nighttime scene here, how busy they get in the evening, etc. I imagine the place fills up though, as it is pretty small tasting room (it seats around 50 people). The bartender commented they are plenty busy on weekdays too. If you want to chat up the bartender, secure a seat at the bar, and increase your chances of getting passed tasters of stuff the bartender likes, I’d recommend getting here when they open (I imagine mentioning I’m a blogger could have helped too). If you want a more vibrant atmosphere, then later in the day may be a better idea.
In case you are curious, I much preferred Schilling to Capitol Cider, which just wasn’t my scene. Capitol Cider does however get a nod to having a full (gluten free) kitchen.
We spotted some cool swag (coasters & stickers) below the bar as we were being rung up, and ask and thou shall receive!
[Maybe they had a Thistly Cross tasting at some point? It also looks like Thistly Cross has three varieties I haven’t found here: Elderflower, Strawberry, & Original. I’ve had the Whisky Cask (one of my favorites) and Traditional (very similar to Whisky Cask), and am not a fan of ginger so I haven’t tried that one.]
The Schilling Cider House is open noon-11pm seven days a week. 21+ only, but they do appear to be dog friendly (a patron next to us had a cute & well behaved pitt bull). I highly recommend it and look forward to returning!
Stay tuned for Schilling Cider House review Part 2, with tasting notes on all 18 ciders I tried!
Update: Part 2 covering the 18 ciders I tasted is now available!
Have you been to the Schilling Cider House, or any other cider bar? What did you think?