Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry

Review of Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry cider.  I tried this at Cider Summit Seattle 2017 (although that draft version was listed at a higher ABV).  I’ve also previously tried Rev Nat’s Revival¡Tepache!Hopland #5 / EnvyNewtown PippinCiderkinWinter Abbey SpiceHallelujah HopricotDeliverance Gin & TonicRevival DryThe PassionWhiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black CurrantNew Moon MandarinViva la PineappleRevelation Belle de BoskoopWooden Hellfire, and Tassjara Peach Book.

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Cider:  Sacrilege Sour Cherry
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from granny smith apples with sour cherries, pear juice, and a hint of spice from ghost peppers

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Availability:  Year round.  Rev Nat’s ciders are in general sold in AK, CA, HI, ID, MT, NY, OR, and WA, as well as Alberta & B.C. Canada, and Japan.

Cider Description:  Others profess to produce a cherry cider, but none begin with 100% sour Granny Smith apples (eschewing all other apple varieties for their lack of sourness) unified with the superior Montmorency sour cherry (aka Prunus cerasus, a superior and vastly dissimilar cherry to Prunus avid, the bird cherry, the mere mazzard, so commonly used in cough syrup and children’s sweet-snacks) and the exotic Baladon sour cherry (hailing from my native country of Hungary), fermented with an English Ale yeast (procured from a fine brewery in Chiswick, London), rounded out with a spot of Bartlett pear juice (undeniably the world’s greatest pear-flavored pear) and completed with a touch of spiciness (largely attributable to the ghost chili pepper, although married with a secret spice), precisely enough to make your vigor race and spirits embrace another gulp. 

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Price:  $7.00
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  My husband remembered liking this and bought a bottle (this appears to be his favorite cidery…he likes the weird stuff, like Wooden Hellfire), and I tried some.

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First Impression:  Cherry red-brown hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of cherry and hot peppers (silly me made the mistake of taking a huge whiff of it too!).

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, tannins, or funk.  Low spiciness (heat).  Notes of real cherry, green apple, lemon, and hot peppers.  Long lingering spicy finish.  Low to moderate cherry flavor, flavor intensity,  complexity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  As expected, same as my previous trial, I didn’t like this due to the spiciness (although it was admittedly mild…I just don’t enjoy spicy beverages).  The cherry part of the cider was nice though.  My husband said the spiciness dissipated some by the time he got to the end of the bottle, but I only wanted two sips.  My husband however really enjoyed it, and was happy he got the whole bottle to himself (he is a big fan of both cherry and anything spicy).

Side Note:  Some other reviews said this was sour (like sour beer, from wild yeast), but I only picked up tart (like lemons and granny smith apples); I think the variety of cherries used are called sour cherries (similar to Doc’s Sour Cherry, my favorite cherry cider), but this wouldn’t be classified as an actual sour cider.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had plenty of cherry ciders (28 last I counted), but none that were also spicy.

Closing Notes:  My favorites from Rev Nat’s remain RevivalThe PassionWhiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant, and Viva la Pineapple….ie. his more mainstream and sweeter selections.

Have you tried Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry?  What did you think?

Tasting Notes from Reverend Nat’s Tap Room in Portland Oregon

Reverend Nat’s tap room was the next stop in our Portland Oregon cider weekend adventure after Cider Rite of Spring (see my event review and tasting notes), checking into our hotel (the Embassy Suites on Pine St – nice for being in a historic building), and dinner at The Ringside steakhouse (I’m not a steak eater but my husband was a big fan…dinner there was his only request of the weekend).

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Reverend Nat’s Cider has been around officially since 2011, and moved into the current building in 2013, although “The Reverend” Nat West (he is actually ordained online) has been making cider since 2004.  They specialize in making weird & interesting ciders that no one else would have the guts to make, and they actually sell very well.

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It was shockingly quiet in the tap room for a Saturday night, but I guess its not really in an area which gets a lot of foot traffic, despite being in the downtown area.  Its a cool building, with high ceilings, and one wall was a roll-up garage door.  There were about four barstools at the main bar, a few at a center bar, one booth, and the rest were stools pulled around wine barrel tables.  There were maybe six other patrons and one bartender there with us.

They have 12 ciders on tap (and sometimes bottle pours), and sell bottles & growlers of their ciders as well as some merchandise.  Many of the ciders poured in the tap room are varieties which never leave the tap room.  They also offer a “Tent Show” cider club which gives members first pick at special release ciders (and only if any bottles are left are they sold in the tap room); there is currently a waiting list to even sign up for their cider club.

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The tap room is also the production area (although obviously not in use late at night), so I got to have a peek at the cidery itself.  I was surprised how small it was compared to how large Reverend Nat’s (and Cascadia Ciderworks United‘s) cider distribution is.

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My husband and I ordered some tasters to share ($2-$5 for 4oz) of #7 Viva la Pineapple!, #10 Tent Show Wooden Hellfire, #11 Tassjara Peach Book, and #12 Belle de Boskoop (I’ve previously tried the Revival, Sour Cherry 2016 and 2015 versions, Hallelujah Hopricot, and New Moon Mandarin).

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<left to right:  Viva la Pineapple!, Revelation Belle de Boskoop, Tent Show Wooden Hellfire, and Tassjara Peach Book>

Viva la Pineapple! (6.0% ABV):  Described as a granny smith apple cider with pineapple juice and cinnamon.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate pineapple flavor.  Mild spice.  This was reminiscent of their Tepache, but apple not pineapple based, less spiced, and more drinkable by itself.  I really liked it.

Revelation Belle de Boskoop (6.8% ABV):  Described as a single varietal cider from an heirloom apple variety.  Semi-dry.  Apple forward.  However, the flavor for me was overwhelmingly vinegary with some sourness too.  I wasn’t a fan.

Wooden Hellfire (16.6% ABV):  This is a very unique cider which was started by boiling cider for 18 hours, making a concentrate (similar to freezing is used when making ice cider), then barrel aged for one year.  Very dark hue.  Dry to semi-dry.  Rich flavor with notes of caramel, prune, oak, and smoke.  High complexity and flavor intensity.  I liked the flavor (although the prune was odd), but this is something more to sip on a shot of than drink in any quantity or frequency.  My husband fell in love with it, saying it was the best cider he had ever tried, and ended up buying a bottle ($30, although its 750ml of 16.6% cider, if you can really call it cider anymore), plus two more bottles for some friends he told it about.  I really wish they would have sold this in smaller bottles, as 750ml is a lot of an intense high ABV cider, plus that would decrease the price point.

Tassjara Peach Book (8.5% ABV):  A cider with Mosaic hops, which are described as adding the scent and flavor of peaches to this cider without using any actual peaches.  Semi-dry.  There was definitely a very subtle peach flavor in addition to some citrus and hops notes.  Moderately bitter finish.  I found it to be average.

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Bottom Line:  To be honest, most of the ciders Rev Nat’s makes aren’t to my liking…they tend towards the weird, dry, spicy, sour, etc.  However, some of the staples such as Revival are awesome.  I also had a draft-only special release from them for last year’s Cider Summit (Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant) which I really enjoyed.

Reverend Nat’s Revival

Review of Reverend Nat’s Revival.  I’ve tried this cider before in 500ml bottles and draft, but not a six pack.  I’ve also previously tried his ¡Tepache!, Hopland #5 / Envy, Newtown Pippin, Ciderkin, Winter Abbey SpiceHallelujah Hopricot, Deliverance Gin & Tonic, Revival Dry, Sour Cherry, The Passion, and Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant.

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Cider:  Revival
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland Oregon
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles (and 500ml bottles & draft)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with Mexican piloncillo sugar and two yeast strains

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Availability:  Year round in AK, CA (Southern), HI, ID, OR, and WA, as well as B.C. Canada, Singapore, and Tokyo & Nagano Japan, although the 500ml bottles are easiest to find.

Cider Description:  My newest release is Revival Hard Apple and I couldn’t be more thrilled to share it with you. I start with a secret blend of Washington-grown apples and add piloncillo, dark brown evaporated cane juice, purchased direct from Michoacan, Mexico. I ferment this dark base to all the way to dry using two exotic yeast strains: a beer yeast known for the round mouthfeel in Saisons and a rarely-used secret culture which produces aromas of pineapple, guava and peaches. This cider is brilliantly golden in color and deeply complex while remaining subtly familiar, with just the right amount of sweetness and acidity to be an everyday beverage.

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Price:  $13.99
Where Bought:  Target
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  Its easy to find the single 500ml bottles, but this is only the second time I’ve seen the six packs.  The first was at Whole Foods, but only once.  Per ounce the six packs are a good deal.  I was very surprised to see it at Target, which otherwise only had commercial ciders.

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of apples and yeast.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple juice, apple pomace, yeast, brown sugar, and honey.  Slight richness.  Quick finish length.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  Yum!  This is a tasty everyday cider.  It varies quite a bit batch to batch, more than any other cider I’ve tried (but that is typical for craft ciders).  Sometimes I like it better than other times, but its always good.

Most Similar to:  Breton French cider, as it is apple-forward and yeast-forward, although less carbonation.

Closing Notes:   This is Reverend Nat’s most typical cider, and my favorite from him.

Have you tried Reverend Nat’s Revival?  What did you think?

Reverend Nat’s ¡Tepache!

Review of Reverend Nat’s ¡Tepache!.  Note this technically isn’t even cider, as it is only made using pineapple juice, no apples.  I tried this awhile back, and I’ve sampled a number of ciders from Reverend Nat’s (see here).

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Cider:  ¡Tepache!
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  3.2%
How Supplied:  22oz brown bottles
Style:  American craft fermented pineapple juice with spices

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Availability:  Summer Seasonal sold in Oregon, Washington, Southern California, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, British Columbia Canada, Japan, and Singapore

Cider Description:  During a holiday in Veracruz I had a chance meeting with a peddler hawking Traditional Tepache out of a push-cart. A few pesos poorer and I was on Cloud Nine. ‘I unquestionably must have that recipe!’ I shouted. My Spanish is dreadful and his English was no better but over a few minutes of pictographic correspondence, I felt sanguine in my capacity to recreate that sumptuous drink upon my return to Portland.

Composed exclusively of pineapples sourced from my second cousin’s plantation in Costa Rica, piloncillo from the Mexican state of Michoacan and a furtive selection of spices, this lightly alcoholic elixir is sure to please your palate.

Much like American Apple Pie, there is no recipe for Tepache. It is a traditional Mexican drink, frequently consumed out of a plastic baggie with a straw, sold by street vendors in Jalisco and made at home. It’s not a cider – NO APPLES! The fermentation happens on the scales and rind of the pineapples, imparting a deep and unique flavor. This beverage is low-alcohol and sweet like a Summer Shandy or Radler due to a partial fermentation of the pineapples. Available starting Cinco de Mayo.

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Price:  $6.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It sounded good, and I wanted to try mixing it with cider this time versus drinking it straight, so it ended up being an impulse try.

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First Impression:  Hazy yellow/brown hue (I recommend to lightly shake before pouring to distribute the sediment).  Still.  Smells strongly of pineapple and moderately of spices.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of juicy pineapple, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate pineapple flavor and moderate amount of spice.  Low complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Yum!  Great by itself or mixed with cider.  I tried it with Number Six Dry 99 (although that didn’t help boost the 3.2% ABV much as its only 4.2% ABV).  I agree with the suggestion to use more Tepache than cider (or 50-50).  I don’t like beer so I can’t comment on that mixture, although it appears plenty popular.

Most Similar to:  Nothing really.  You can’t really compare it to pineapple cider as it doesn’t use apples.  However, like a number of other beverages, I thought the pineapple came across more in the scent than the flavor.  I only know of one other cidery doing Tepache, Argus Cidery in Texas, although I haven’t tried it as I heard its sour and thats not my thing.

Closing Notes:   If you are looking to try something unique and like pineapple and spices, Tepache may be to your liking.  This definitely isn’t an everyday drinker (like his Revival, which remains my favorite from Rev Nat’s), but its unique.

Have you tried Tepache?  What did you think?

Reverend Nat’s Tent Show Deliverance Gin & Tonic

Review of Reverend Nat’s Deliverance Gin & Tonic, a selection of their Tent Show cider club.  I’ve previously tried a handful of their ciders (see here), with Revival being my favorite.

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Cider:  Deliverance Gin & Tonic
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  10.0%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle
Style:  American craft Imperial single varietal Newtown Pippin cider with spices, gin barrel aged

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(standard Tent Show bottle, where only the label changes)

Availability:  Only at Reverend Nat’s Portland Oregon cidery, only for Tent Show cider club members unless there are leftover bottles, 46 cases produced

Cider Description:  Imperial (high ABV) Newtown Pippin cider with ginger, quinine, lime juice & zest, lemongrass, juniper berries, and cucumber, aged in Ransom Old Tom gin barrels

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Nat West (who is actually an online ordained minister) has been making cider since 2004, started Reverend Nat’s in 2011, and opened a tap room with 12 taps in Portland in 2013 (which also includes bottles and selections from other cideries).

Price:  n/a (a friend brought this to a cider tasting dinner)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

First Impression:  Hazy medium amber.  Nearly still.  Smells rich and boozy, of spices and botanicals.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Moderate bitterness.  Low funk.  Low tannins.  No sourness.  Notes of caramel, ginger, and spices & botanicals I’m unfamiliar with.  No apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  High flavor intensity.  High complexity.

My Opinion:  This was a really interesting cider.  I didn’t really enjoy it at first, but it grew on me, especially once I added a couple ice cubes, which reduced the harshness.  This cider is more like a cocktail, and reminds me a bit of Pommeau.  I think without the ginger I would have liked it better (I’m not a ginger fan).

Most Similar to:  Not anything I’ve tried.  I’ve had Portland Cider Company London Dry Gin, which was gin barrel aged (dry, high tannins, and botanical).  I’ve also had Liberty Cider Works Abbess, which used gin botanicals (semi-dry, bold flavor with a hint of botanicals).  Both had the botanicals, but not the body, haziness, and richness of this cider.

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I got a chance to try this cider, as I’m not a Tent Show member, and Seattle is a bit far from Portland to just pop in and check if they have anything interesting.

Have you tried Reverend Nat’s Deliverance Gin & Tonic?  What did you think?

Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spice

Review of Reverend Nat’s Winter Abbey Spice, “apple wine with raisins and spices”.  Its a seasonal New England Style spiced cider (marketed as apple wine as it is over 7% ABV).  This appears similar to Reverend Nat’s Providence, which is also a New England Style spiced cider, but has a lower ABV.  At first I thought they were the same, as the store actually stuck a barcode label on this one saying “Providence”, but it appears not.

By the way, New England Style cider is typically considered a barrel aged strong cider (8-12% ABV) which underwent a secondary fermentation with additional sugars and raisins.  So, Winter Abbey Spice meets that definition except its a tad low on the ABV.

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Cider:  Winter Abbey Spice
Cidery:  Reverend Nat’s
Cidery Location:  Portland OR
ABV:  7.4%
How Supplied:  750ml flip top bottle
Style:  New England style American spiced cider

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Availability:  Winter time, where Reverend Nat’s cider is sold.  It appears this occurs in OR, WA, Southern CA, parts of ID, AK, British Columbia, Japan, & Singapore, and online at InsideTheCellar.com and ShipCider.com (although I didn’t see this variety on either website).

Cider Description:  Our good friends in the North counteract the bitter chill of winter with this traditional drink, but in flavor, bold in character, made with raisins, unrefined cane sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg and fermented to dryness with oak.  This tipple is sure to warm your bones.

The apples for this cider were from Kiyokawa Family Orchards.  It was aged in oak for 6 months.

Cidery Description:  Reverend Nat is a single-minded cider evangelist who searches the world for superior ingredients to handcraft the most unusual ciders that no one else will make.

Nat West (who is actually an online ordained minister) has been making cider since 2004, started Reverend Nat’s in 2011, and opened a tap room with 12 taps in Portland in 2013 (which also includes bottles and selections from other cideries).

Price:  $12.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  This was recommended to me, so I was on the look out for it.  At first I thought it was the same as Providence as that is what the label from the store said and I remembered Providence being a New England Style spiced cider, but it appears the recipe and ABV is slightly different.  I had passed on Providence as the whole raisins and spices thing sounded weird.  However, I’m now more open to spiced ciders, and apparently raisins aren’t all that uncommon to add to ciders (New England Style is a thing and raisins were traditionally used as their wild yeast would ferment the cider, and they add some sweetness, alcohol content, flavor, color, and tannins).

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First Impression:  Rich caramel orange amber.  Low carbonation.  Smells rich, of caramel, butterscotch, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and raisins.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Low acidity, tartness, and sourness.  A touch of bitterness and funk.  Mild to moderate spice (mostly cinnamon).  Lovely rich flavor with lots of burnt caramel and brown sugar notes.  The oak is barely noticeable.  I only picked up raisins in the scent, not the flavor.  Medium bodied.  Long finish.  Full flavored.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  This was pretty tasty, but the slightly sour thing was off putting to me.  The sourness wasn’t overt, and took me awhile to figure out what I was picking up.  However, reading online reviews, I can’t find anyone else noting it was sour, and I’m the first to admit I’m sensitive to it, so I imagine most folks wouldn’t notice at all.  My husband said this was in his top 5 favorite ciders at least (he samples everything I open).

Most Similar to:  Other high ABV spiced ciders (such as 2 Towns Nice & Naughty, although that is 10.5% ABV) and New England Style ciders.  I don’t think I’ve tried a New England Style cider before, but at least a few exist in the current craft cider market (such as from Blackbird and Headwater).  Apparently its fairly popular for home cidermakers too.

Closing Notes:   I can see why this cider is popular.  It wasn’t really my thing, but was nice to try.  I’m not opposed to trying another New England Style cider though.

Do you have a favorite spiced cider?

Hard Cider News Edition 2

Here are some recent hard cider news/articles/links/posts I found interesting and have shared on Facebook lately.  To get the latest scoop, like Cider Says on Facebook!

Blogs & Facebook

Cider Log
My favorite cider Facebook group, who is in my neck of the woods.  Its a group of folks who enjoy hard cider. They have a cool photo album of the craft cider selection at various stores in the Seattle area, tasting notes, meetups, etc. They are not associated with any cidery, although one member does work for one.  I got to meet Sarah over the weekend at a Sonoma Cider tasting she was hosting at Whole Foods!

Rekorderlig and Kopparberg are NOT Cider
Interesting writeup on the Ciderplex Blog on two ciders which aren’t actually cider, as they aren’t made from fermented apple juice.  I wonder how many other products are like this?  Good thing we have ingredient lists to check out.

The Meteoric Rise of 2 Towns Cider
Story of 2 Towns Cider (from Corvallis OR), from All Into Cider Blog.

Learning to Use Cider in Cocktails
Q & A with Darlene Hayes about her cider cocktails book, from The Cider Journal.

Schilling Cider infographic on craft vs. all other cider
I think its important to know the difference between craft and commercial cider to be an informed consumer.  Personally I have nothing against buying commercial cider, and there are a number of selections I enjoy (such as Woodchuck).  They can be had for less money, found easier, and make for easy drinking.  I do however buy a good deal of craft cider, which is real cider, and often more complex.  It feels good to support a local business as well.

News Articles

10 Must-Try New Summer Beers & Ciders
Only one cider on the list unfortunately, Cider Riot’s Lemmy’s Summer Camp (Meyer Lemon Cider), from Portland OR.  It caught my eye as it comes in a plastic 2 liter bottle!  I spotted something like this at the Schilling Cider House (my first time seeing a cider in a 2 liter bottle), but it could have been another variety of Cider Riot’s.  This one is described as Dry with lemon tartness with a creamy overripe butterscotch tannic flavor.

Woodchuck Hard Cider Takes on the Big Guns
Woodchuck’s nearly around the clock production schedule to meet demand while allowing days off, and their new advertising strategy to compete with competition from the big name breweries such as Angry Orchard from Boston Beer.

Hard Cider, Hard Cash:  How a Father-Son Team from California is Tackling the Cider Craze
Story of Sonoma Cider (from Healdsburg CA).

Apples, apples everywhere
Cider scene in Poland of all places, where there are a lot of startups as they have an apple surplus due to not being able to export them.

Cider could lead wine drinkers “astray”
Is cider a threat to the wine industry as much as the beer industry?

Behind the scenes at Reverend Nat’s, Portland’s largest cidery (Photos)
Neat writeup of Rev Nat’s with behind the scenes photos!

Video

Made in the Northwest – Liberty Ciderworks
Segment on KXLY Spokane on Liberty Ciderworks.

Text & Video

Olympia Honey Hard Cider, a collaboration of Seattle Cider Co. and the Georgian Room at the Fairmont Olympic hotel. They are featuring the cider in a five course prix fixe dinner dubbed the “Extraction Menu” throughout August. Unfortunately the KING 5 Seattle New Day Northwest segment didn’t say if this cider would be available outside of the hotel’s restaurant & bar, but with some research it appears it won’t be (at least initially). I wonder if you can stop buy and purchase a bottle to go? Sure sounds tasty!

honey cider
(photo from @FairmontOlympic on Twitter of bees & cider while they were getting ready for the New Day Northwest segment)