What an epic cider event! This was my second year attending (see here for previous posts), but was the seventh annual Cider Summit in Seattle Washington. It took place on Friday & Saturday September 9th & 10th. This is post 1/2, covering the event. Post 2/2 will cover tasting notes on the dozens of ciders I tried. [Update – Post 2/2 is now up here].
We had some beautiful weather for the weekend. It was still warmer than I prefer, but not as bad as last year. Same as last year, I attended both days, and even stayed locally overnight. Even though I don’t live far, its very convenient, and makes a fun weekend getaway with the hubby. See here for the full event info and here for the full list of cideries (60) and ciders (196 ish).
There were some substitutions, but about the same number of ciders as expected were poured. The most interesting booths were those for Coquerel Calvados (French apple brandy), Schonauer apple liquor, and J. Seeds apple cider whiskey. They were even pouring a few meads, from Moonlight Meadery and Nectar Creek. Although most ciders were from the PNW, there were a good number of national and international ones as well. Also, the selections were primarily on the craft (vs. commercial) end.
There were 16 entries for the Fruit Cider Challenge. I learned that the cideries were provided fruit puree from Oregon Fruit Products which they made cider with. Votes were taken by text (1 per phone). Although I didn’t try them all, my vote was for Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet w/ Black Currant.
Entry included a tasting glass, tickets (8 for regular and 12 for VIP, each one good for a 4oz pour of most ciders), and wristband. A cool feature of this event is that in addition to in & out privileges, one entry fee gets you in both days (and you can even skip the line on the second day). This event is very well organized. Everything from pre event information online to signage at the event to thinking of the little things like having rinse water available.
Another thing about this event that I really like is that the folks pouring the cider are associated with the cidery (cidery employees, sometimes even the cidermakers, or the distributor). When its not too busy, you can ask about the cidery and cider. The crowd was really varied, from the cider enthusiasts like myself to people who just wanted to drink. We even spotted a couple in wedding garb (apparently they attended Friday straight from their wedding), and an adorable older lady with her walker.
Besides the main attraction of cider booths, they had music (from a local radio station, KEXP), food for sale from Whole Foods and SUSU rolled ice cream, cider cocktails from Capitol Cider, samples of unfermented juice from Ryan’s and Krave beef jerky (both for sale), some misc booths such as for Northwest Cider and fancy growlers, a shop with bottle sales and Cider Summit t-shirts and such, a dog lounge, stand up tables, covered seating, cold filtered water (from Easy Tap), and port-a-potties (which were actually quite clean, and one set of them had outdoor sinks). There was less covered seating this year, but it seemed to be sufficient.
<map from the event program>
I’m glad I brought a hat, sunblock, good walking/standing shoes (for uneven grass), 1 water bottle to fill up, snacks (including something starchy, good both to absorb alcohol and as a palate cleanser – I chose animal crackers this year), notebook, pencil, and tote bag with an outside pocket for my tasting glass. You might also want a bag to put free swag in, but a couple cidery booths actually gave out bags too. Some cash isn’t a bad idea either, although I think at least the bottle shop took cards. ID is required.
My best advice for avoiding the crowds it to attend early on Friday, although even later on Friday is less busy than anytime on Saturday. I ended up only staying a few hours on Friday and a couple hours on Saturday, leaving once I’d had enough. There are also a number of restaurants (and Whole Foods) within walking distance, so another option is leaving if you need a break, then come back after a bit. I did that last year, especially as it was so hot (we took advantage of the a/c as Whole Foods).
A great way to get free admission is to volunteer; they had several shift options each day, and I heard that if you work closing on Saturday you may even get leftover cider. For the best ticket price, buy them in advance. Although VIP tickets are online sales only, if you are getting regular tickets, buy them in person at one of the places around town which sell them, as there isn’t a service charge. It didn’t sell out as far as I know, but the price was higher at the door. Designated driver tickets ($5) were only at the door.
<food from Whole Foods and cocktails from Capitol Cider>
<the lawn game cornhole seemed to be a popular offering, with at least four cideries bringing a custom painted set, although I didn’t see anyone playing>
<this unique ice cream was in liquid form, then spread onto a frozen slab, then rolled>