The Journey Continues…
Wherein the adventurers drive to Portland and partake in two of the finest things in life: books and cider.
After the three hour drive from Seattle to Portland, we checked into the hotel, grabbed some rather unremarkable eats that I’ll spare you the details of, and then headed to the Mecca for true book lovers: Powell’s City Of Books.
Powell’s is a rarity in this era: An independent bookstore open since the 1970’s with selection that rivals even the mega online sellers like Amazon. The main Portland location is enormous, spanning several floors. New and used books share the same shelf, coffee flows freely, and many, many hours can be lost wandering the aisles and finding treasures…even books on cider.
The rare book section was particularly amazing–an entire room full of ultra-rare books across the spectrum, from prints by John J Audobon to autographed first editions to ancient volumes priced in the tens of thousands…luckily for me there was nothing there that I could afford.
I did have one frightening moment, however, which those of you with an HTTP background will probably get rather quickly:
The horror! Luckily, I found the coffee shop about 10 seconds later, so disaster was averted.
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider
Reverend Nat’s Cidery and Taproom was definitely the highlight of my cider sampling activities on the trip–it had a fun atmosphere, a highly knowledgeable and welcoming staff member (Jim), and some very innovative ciders. It didn’t hurt one bit that Jim played some 90’s metal while I was there (Metallica, Master Of Puppets for the most part… \nn/ ), and, while that may have biased me in his favor, his knowledge of cider was obvious even from an objective standpoint. He matched me point by point on topics such as Tom Oliver’s ciders and different varieties of European cider apples…much moreso than I’d grown to expect of the ‘typical’ cidery I visit (if there is such a thing). His participation enhanced the overall experience greatly. These guys know cider.
I’m also a fan of the blocky, bold lettering scheme they use:
And the fact that the tasting room sits right in front of and doesn’t obscure the cidery tanks and equipment–a bonus for cidery gearheads itching for an inside look into the operation (apologies for the poor photo quality):
But enough about the location…
If I were to generalize about Nat’s ciders, the one word that stands out for me is: experimental.
I have no doubt that we’ll see some more ‘traditional’, tannic ciders from them as they secure access to more cider-specific fruit (not an easy thing to do, whether buying them or growing them yourself, even in the Pacific Northwest). For now, though, they are doing quite a bit to perk up the flavor profiles of the table fruit that’s more readily accessible today.
I didn’t love everything, but I loved a few, liked most and admire the creativity and courage behind even those concepts that didn’t work for me.
We ended up with a pretty substantial flight, as you can see here (maybe, since the image quality sucks), but that’s the sacrifice one makes in the name of science. It’s a heavy burden to bear.
Some specific ‘reviews’:
- Revival–lots of tropical fruit character
- Hallelujah Hopricot
- Brandy Revival With Oranges
- Revelation Newtown Pippen–my favorite
- HCF Spring Cuvee
- Bartlett Citra
- Sacrilege Sour Cherry–great name, great cider!
- Br’er Rabbit
- Cider Riot! + Reverend Nat’s Ciderkin
If you have a chance to get your hands on Reverend Nat’s cider, I’d recommend the Revival as an example of how non-apple flavors can be coaxed out of a table apple base, and the Revelation Newtown Pippen–by far my favorite–as a prime example of an American heirloom cider–its dry, mineraly crispness is not to be missed.
There were also beers represented in our flight, but I left those out since this is a cider-centric blog. Feel free to mine my Untappd history if you want to see those.
Next up in the series, I’ll detail a visit to another premier Portland Cider destination, Bushwhacker Cider Bar, as well as some rather breathtaking sightseeing destinations inside the city. After that, I’ll detail my time at the Business Of Hard Cider class I took in Washington, as well as reveal some future plans for my cider-related website endeavors.
In case you missed it, the first installment of this series is available here.