Common Cider Pineapple Guava

Review of Common Cider’s Pineapple Guava.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Hibiscus Saison.

Cider:  Pineapple Guava
Cidery:  Common Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Drytown CA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  6 pack of 12oz slim cans (or 22oz bottles)
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with pineapple and guava

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Availability:  probably only in California (see their locator)

Cider Description:  An artfully effervescent hard apple cider heightened with tropical pineapple and guava to celebrate the warmth of social festivity.  Our Hawaii-inspired pineapple guava hard cider actually started out as a seasonal in 2017 but response was so strong that we have made it one of our year round products. It’s bright, fruity and off-dry; perfect with light food dishes or just by itself, with a few friends of course.

This gem also took home the Silver medal at the 2018 New York International Beer Competition, and at the 2018 World Cider Competition.  Fun Fact: When you see a pineapple you think Hawaii but they actually originated in South America and are believed to have made their way to Hawaii via the Spanish in the 16th century.

Cidery Description:  To open a Common Cider is to open your heart to the world.  To invite conversation, to entertain new ideas, to celebrate what we all have in common.  While the rest of the brewing world is busily promoting hard cider, we’re engaged with in the art of crafting human cider.  Cider as a solvent for cynicism.  Cider as symbol of balance and sanity.  Cider as a delivery system for joy.

Price:  ~ $3 / single can (runs ~ $13.99 / 6 pack, or $8.99 / 22oz bottle)
Where Bought:  Total Wine in southern CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing, on a business trip, where I had extra suitcase space on the way back after dropping off work stuff so I picked up quite a few ciders

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First Impression:  Low carbonation.  Light straw yellow hue.  Smells mild, tart and tropical.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or bitterness.  Notes of green apple, pineapple, and a bit of something else, which tasted more like strawberry than guava to me.  Moderate length finish.  Low flavor intensity, complexity, and apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I thought this was ok, not really to my personal preferences, as it was so mild in flavor.

Most Similar to:  Apple Outlaw Pineapple Getaway and Seattle Cider Pineapple Agave

Closing Notes:  My favorite pineapple cider (of ~ 18 I’ve tried) is probably 2 Towns Pacific Pineapple, as it has tons of flavor without much sweetness, which is a rare combination.

Have you tried Common Cider Pineapple Guava?  What did you think?

2 Towns Hollow Jack’d

Review of 2 Towns’ Hollow Jack’d, a seasonal imperial-style pumpkin and spice cider.  I sampled a non-imperial (lower ABV) version of this previously (see here), and I’ve tried most of their line-up (see here).

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Hollow Jack’d
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.4%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles, kegs
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples, with caramelized heirloom pumpkin, sweet potato, honey, and spices

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Availability:  October 2019, in Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Chicago, and parts of Minnesota & Montana.  See their Cider Finder.

Cider Description:  Extra mischievous, Hollow Jack’D takes our fall classic of fresh-pressed apples, caramelized pumpkins and sweet potatoes that are finished with local honey and spices to a whole new level.

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $6.99 / 500ml
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried it at Cider Summit Seattle 2016, but this time it just showed up

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First Impression:  Hazy straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (low carbonation).  Smells of caramelized apple and spice.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of baked apple and spices, with hints of pumpkin, sweet potato, and caramel.  Moderate length boozy finish.  Low to moderate sessionability and apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and complexity.  Low to moderate pumpkin & sweet potato flavor and spice.

My Opinion:  Although I’m not a huge pumpkin / spiced cider fan, I liked this one.

Most Similar to:  Doc’s Draft Pumpkin cider (although that was a full sweet) and Tieton’s Smoked Pumpkin cider (although that was quite intensely flavored compared to this).  I’ve also tried pumpkin ciders from Ace and Woodchuck.

Closing Notes:  Unlike many pumpkin ciders (and beers), this one is actually made with pumpkin.  Many just add the pie spices but still call it a pumpkin cider (or beer).  Also, it is well balanced, with both the pumpkin and spices remaining light.

Have you tried 2 Towns Hollow Jack’d?  What did you think?

Dragon’s Head Heritage Rosé

Review of Dragon’s Head Heritage Rosé cider, made from red-fleshed apples.  This differs from a modern rosé cider which would add non-apple juice, hibiscus, etc, to get the red hue.  I tried this at a WA Cider Week preview event at Dragon Head’s own orchard (see here), plus I’ve had their Traditional CiderWild FermentedKingston BlackColumbia Crab, Methode Champenoise Perry, Perry, ManchurianSummer Cider, and Heritage.

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Cider:  Heritage Rosé
Cidery:  Dragon’s Head Cider
Cidery Location:  Vashon Island WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft orchard-based heritage rosé cider from red-fleshed apples

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Availability:  probably only in Washington and Oregon (see a list of retailers here), plus online sales

Cider Description:  Our Heritage Rosé Cider gets its lively pink color entirely from the Redfield and Mountain Rose apples we use to make it. Unlike typical apple varieties, in the Spring the blossoms on these trees are pink, the leaves are even a reddish bronze, and amazingly the flesh of these unique apples is red in color. When the apples are pressed the juice is a crimson color that lightens and clears into the beautiful rosé that you see in the bottle.

Cidery Description:  From apple to bottle, all right here on our farm.  At Dragon’s Head Cider, we take a traditional approach to cider making. Our focus is on the apple varieties that we use and the quality of the fruit. We love the story that apples alone can tell through cider, altering the flavor by changing the blend of apple varieties that we carefully select. The process is simple and the ingredients list is short. Perhaps we’re a little old fashioned.

Price:  ~ $19
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a tasting event (see here),

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First Impression:  Medium pink hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild and fruity.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of tannins and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of complex heirloom & tart green apple with hints of lemon, berry, rhubarb, and watermelon.  Moderate length tart finish.  Low apple flavor.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, I personally prefer ciders which are a bit sweeter and fuller flavored.  I’d recommend this for folks who like a fruity cider but without the sweetness that most have.  I’m always amazed by how many different flavors can occur just from apples, like the fruitiness from red-fleshed apples.

Most Similar to:  Other heritage rosé ciders made from 100% red-fleshed apples, such as Snowdrift Red (a tad sweeter and more tart), Tieton Russian Red (sweeter), Alpenfire Glow (much sweeter and very full-flavored), and Alpenfire Cinders (drier and super bubbly since its methode champenoise).

Closing Notes:  I’m often torn between heritage and modern ciders, as they both have so much to offer, but thankfully I don’t have to choose between them.

Have you tried heritage rosé cider from red-fleshed apples?  What did you think?

Herb’s Cider Forte Golden Russet Keeved

Review of Forte from Herb’s Cider, a keeved cider from golden russet apples.  Keeving is a French cidermaking process which leaves the apple pulp and skin with the juice to start fermenting, creating a pectin gel layer which traps nitrogen, which in combination with low temperatures starves the juice of nutrients to completely ferment to dry, slowly creating a naturally sweet cider (see here for more info).  I tried this at Cider Summit a couple weeks ago (see here), plus I’ve had their Triplet Special ReserveBlue Note Heirloom Blueberry7/4 Traditional BittersharpCrescendo Cox Orange Pippin SV, and Cider Summit Fruit Challenge Plum Jerkum.

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Cider:  Forte
Cidery:  Herb’s Cider
Cidery Location:  Bellingham WA
ABV:  6.3%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American organic craft keeved cider from Golden Russet heirloom apples

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Availability:  limited release, and probably only in Washington

Cider Description:  A single varietal cider made from organic Golden Russet apples.  Keeved using traditional methods to result in a naturally sweet cider and wild fermented at very low temperatures for several months.  Aged in French oak puncheons.

Cidery Description:  Herb’s Cider is a craft cider produced by world renowned drummer, Tim “Herb” Alexander and award-winning Cider Maker, Chris Weir. Herb’s is located in the heart of Bellingham, Washington. We use only 100% ORGANIC Pacific Northwest fruit for our sophisticated, bright, effervescent and flavorful ciders. We are dedicated to the craft of fine cider making and use only traditional methods. We do not add sugars (back-sweeten) or anything to flavor our end products. Tim and his wife, Shama, fermented their first batch of cider in their garage in the fall of 2016. It was a blend of Ambrosia / Gravenstein apples and Japanese Pears, leftover from their garden after a bumper crop. They couldn’t give enough apples away and didn’t want the apples to rot. Instead, Tim went out and rented an apple press. The rest is history….

Price:  ~ $20
Where Bought:  Cider Summit Seattle 2019
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  tasting

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells sweet, of pineapple.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light bodied, with a fluffy texture.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Hints of tannins.  Notes of tart green & rich heirloom apple and tropical fruit, with a creamy mouthfeel.  Moderate length finish, flavor intensity, complexity, sessionability, and apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  Super unique, and the sweetest of all their offerings I’ve tried so far.  I had no idea you could keeve non-bittersweet apples, so that’s pretty cool.

Most Similar to:  This is sweeter than three Golden Russet single varietals I’ve tried, from Finnriver, Liberty, and Wandering Aengus, and was more tropical fruity than earthy/buttery/starchy.

Closing Notes:  My husband smartly recommended I pick up 2 bottles, because whenever I buy 1 bottle of something I really liked at an event, I don’t want to open it, because then it’ll be gone.  So, the good news is I still have another bottle left!

Have you tried keeved cider?  What did you think?

Portland Cider Peach Berry

Review of Portland Cider’s Peach Berry.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their Passion FruitPearfect Perry, Kinda DryHop’RageousLondon Dry GinApple, Crooked Cock Scrumpy, Strawperry, Pineapple, Sangria, MojitoCranberryConcord GrapePerfect 10Pumpkin Spice, and Pineapple Rosé.

>>This is a review of a sample can provided to Cider Says by Portland Cider.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Peach Berry
Cidery:  Portland Cider
Cidery Location:  Portland Oregon
ABV:  5.2%
How Supplied:  19.2oz single cans, 6 pack of 12oz cans, and draft
Style:  American craft cider from dessert apples with berries and peaches

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Availability:  seasonal (fall), in Oregon (including their 1 taprooms) and Washington, plus limited draft availability in Northern CA bay area

Cider Description:  Bold, juicy Oregon peaches play with a blend of tart Northwest grown berries for a cider full of sunshine to drink on those grey Portland days. Lively raspberries, blackberries & blueberries burst onto your tongue, just like plucking the fruit from your own backyard. This balanced cider, with a bold peach flavor and slight tartness, pairs well with classics like fish tacos, spicy sausages and corn on the cob.

Cidery Description:  Portland Cider Company was started in October 2012 by an Oregonian and a family of British expats with the mission of bringing cider, handcrafted in the English tradition, to the Northwest. It has two taproom locations: Portland Cider House at 3638 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214; and Taproom & Cidery at 8925 SE Jannsen Rd, Bldg. F, Clackamas, OR 97015.  Visit www.PortlandCider.com and follow @PortlandCider on social media.

Price:  ~$4 / 19.2oz can, or ~$12 / 6 pack of 12oz cans
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

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First Impression:  Deep purple-red hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, tart and fruity.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of berry, stone fruit, and green apple.  Moderate length finish.  Low complexity and apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it.  Super fruity and flavorful, without too much sweetness.

Most Similar to:  Portland Cider Sangria (except more rich berry than light tropical fruit) and Bauman’s Peach Raspberry (except more berry than peach)

Closing Notes:  I received both a 19.2oz can and a 12oz can, and oddly enough the batch in the smaller can was a bit drier and more tart than this 19.2oz can that I reviewed was.  A great example of craft cider – there will always be some variability batch-to-batch.

Have you tried Portland Cider Peach Berry?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 35 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my 35th visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  However, its actually been a few times more than that as sometimes I just pop in to buy bottles.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.

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I was a bit distracted and totally forgot pictures this time, but I thought I might as well share tasting notes.  I was there on a Thursday afternoon, the day before Cider Summit Seattle 2019, for the cider house’s 5th birthday.  I ordered a flight, as always.  Its awesome even with how many ciders I’ve tried, they always have at least a few new to me selections.

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Golden Fox (6.9% ABV):  This is their 17th draft-only Traditional Heirloom Cider release, this time from Golden Russet, Golden, and Foxwhelp apples.  Dry, with notes of heirloom apple and lemon, with hints of bitterness & tannins.

Brownrigg (Seattle WA) Rum Barrel (7.5% ABV): I had forgotten I actually tried this 1 year ago.  Their rum barrel aged cider, which like all their ciders appears to be draft-only, and super limited release.  Dry and tart, with oak, citrus, and herbal flavor, and low sourness (back of the palate).

Longdrop (Boise ID) Strawberry Vanilla (5.5% ABV):  This appears to be a draft-only release.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with mild berry flavor, and vanilla on the nose and finish.

Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Watermelon (4.5% ABV):  This is seasonal, and also available in bottles, as Holy Water(melon), and advertised to also have ginger and lime in addition to the walermelon.  Semi-dry, with a mild watermelon flavor and a hint of grapefruit and ginger, and a sour finish (back of the palate).

Schilling (Auburn WA) Blueberry Pommeau (21% ABV):  This is a draft-only birthday release, where Pommeau = apple brandy + apple juice, then barrel aged, with blueberry added.  Semi-sweet, fuller bodied, with a tart fruity berry start and a rich boozy finish.

Schilling (Auburn WA) Guava Mint (8.5% ABV):  This is a draft-only release for the fruit cider challenge at Seattle Cider Summit.  Semi-sweet, full bodied with a guava pulp mouthfeel, lots of guava flavor, and a hint of mint on the finish.  Hidden ABV.

I didn’t care for the Rev Nat’s or Brownrigg selections, due to the sourness, but liked all the others, especially the Schilling Guava mint, which I ordered more of.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says.  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Cider Summit Seattle 2019 Post 2/2 – Tasting Notes

This is post 2/2 on Cider Summit Seattle 2019, with tasting notes on 21 ciders.  Post 1/2 covered the event.

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The Tasting Notes

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2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis OR) Kingston Black – A draft-only special release.  Semi-dry, tannic, lower acid, with a woody earthy flavor.

Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA) Kingston Black – A small batch bottled release.  Semi-dry, with a lighter flavor than expected for a KB single varietal, with notes of citrus and wood, and mild tannins.

Archibald James (Leavenworth WA) Smash Apple – Their sweeter (1.5% residual sugar) flagship canned/bottled offering.  Semi-dry and very apple forward.  High level of flavor for the lower sweetness.

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Bauman’s Cider (Gervais OR) Kir Royale – A black currant and cherry barrel aged cider.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry, with bold cherry and oak flavor.

Bembel with Care (Germany) Apfelwein Pure – A flagship canned release.  Dry to semi-dry.  Yeast-forward, and reminiscent of beer.

Chatter Creek Cider (Woodinville WA) Kingston Black – A special bottled released.  Dry and acidic, with citrus and wood notes, but less complexity.

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Cider Riot (Porland OR) Kingston Black – A special bottled release.  On the sweeter side of dry.  Rich bitter tannic flavor with caramel, leather, and orange.

Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Forte – A keeved golden russet single varietal (which is unique as typically only French bittersweet apple juice is keeved), Cognac barrel aged.  Semi-dry but tastes even sweeter, smooth, and apple-forward with hints of tropical fruit.

Herb’s Cider (Bellingham WA) Fruit Challenge – A one-off Foeder aged bittersweet plum jerkum.  Dry but fruity, more berry than plum (but I’ve never been able to pick out plum flavor in a cider).

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Manchester Road Cider (Chelan WA) Apple Sox Red – A flagship bottled offering with beets added for color.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Apple forward and non-specifically fruity.

Newtopia Cyder (San Diego CA) Passionate Mishap – A draft-only cider with passionfruit.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with notes of tart passionfruit and some citrus.

One Tree Cider (Spokane WA) Passionfruit Guava – A one-off fruit cider challenge entry.  Semi-sweet to sweet, and full flavored, with more passionfruit than guava.

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Pear UP (East Wenatchee WA) Peargria II – Take two on a one-off margarita-inspired perry (from 100% pears, no apples) for the fruit cider challenge.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet, with notes of lime, pear, and other fruit.

Pierre Huet (France) Calvados This apple brandy is aged 5-10 years, and imported by French Cider Inc.  I’m not big on spirits, especially served neat, so I’ll defer to my husband, who loved it.  I can however say it was smooth for the high ABV.  However, I think I’ll stick to cider and Pommeau.

Portland Cider (Portland OR) Peach Berry – A new canned release.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  More generally fruity than specific peach & berry, reminiscent of their Sangria, but slightly drier and less complex.  Speaking of their Sangria, I heard it will be going to draft-only for awhile due to lower sales, which is sad as its my favorite from them.

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Reverend Nat’s (Portland OR) Saint Citron – A new canned release.  Semi-dry and citrus-forward, primarily grapefruit, with a hint of ginger.

Seattle Cider Company (Seattle WA) Strawberry Guava – A limited release with strawberries and guava.  Dry, with mild fruitiness, but low flavor intensity.

Soundbite Cider (Everett WA) Two Plums Up – A limited release with plums.  Semi-dry and fruity, more strawberry-rhubarb than plum I thought.

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Union Hill Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Pinkheart – A blend with Red Fleshed, Cripps Pink, and Dabinett apples.  Semi-dry, with subtle fruity citrus flavor.

Union Hill Cider (East Wenatchee WA) Hard Harvest – A blend with Cripps Pink, Dabinett, Porters Perfection, Kingston Black, and Snowdrift Crab apples.  Dry to semi-dry, with subtle earthy citrus flavor.

Wildcraft Cider Works (Eugene OR) Rome Beauty – A single varietal of Rome Beauty apples.  Measurably dry but it tastes sweeter, apple-forward (cooked) and non-specifically fruity, and completely clean.  I liked the level of flavor (high) vs. sweetness (low).

I also had some 2 Towns Pommeau and Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider, because we still had tickets left, and they are awesome.

In Summary

It was impossible to taste all the ciders at the event, or even one from each producer, so I’d also like to share previous tasting notes and reviews of ciders from the other cideries I didn’t get to highlight:  Alter EgoAnthemAvid (previously Atlas)Bad Granny, Brownrigg, Browar Polska Imports (PossmannRuwet), Capitol Cider, Caple Road, d’s WickedDouble MountainDragon’s HeadEaglemountEdenFinnriver, Greenwood, Idun, Independent CiderInclineJester & Judge, J. Seeds, Liberty, Locust, Longdrop, MiloslawskiSamuel Smiths, Schilling, Sea Cider, Snowdrift, Swift, Tieton, Ulee’s, Virtue, Wandering Aengus, and Washington Gold.

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My favorites were Schilling Guava Mint (which I actually tried the night before but I’ll count as it was made for this event), Herb’s Forte, 2 Towns Kingston Black, and Alpenfire Kingston Black.  Two of those were draft only, but I picked up bottles of the other two.  Speaking of Kingston Black, single varietals from KB were popular, with at least 5 cideries offering them.

This event is always the highlight of Washington Cider Week, and the biggest and best cider event of the year in Western Washington.