Two years ago, at the third annual Cider Summit PDX—when it was smaller and a paltry 29 cider makers poured their wares—even as a seasoned beer festival goer who should’ve known how to properly pace myself and hydrate, I discovered that I’d oversampled and underwent a bit of short-term memory loss. But what I do recall is that it was awesome. Now we’re gearing up for the Summit’s fifth anniversary, and the craft cider segment has grown so much, there are 49 tables for cider slingers, 16 of which didn’t exist when I last attended. They're predominantly from Oregon (12 in PDX metro), but Washington, California, and apple-y regions as far as Normandy and England are representing, too.
As the cider market flourishes, the flavorful and gluten-free beverage is being taken in increasingly interesting directions. Heirloom apples, of course, remain at the core, but this year's offerings include 14 made with beer-friendly hops, seven that are bourbon-barrel-aged or somehow oaked, and 17 infused with a wide variety of berries. In fact, new this year is the Fruit Cider Challenge, where attendees get to vote on which of the additionally-fruited elixirs is their fave.
Given that cider has refreshingly become drier and more complex while maintaining an unpretentious sophistication, it’s no wonder more and more palates are opening up to this cider thing (please don’t call it "hard cider"; you don’t call wine "hard grape juice"). This is an ideal opportunity in a great outdoor setting to sip and learn about the modern movement. Just make sure you down tons of water, and don’t try to drink something from every producer, lest you’ll find yourself being labeled a cidero and clutching a bag of Smith & Forge as you try to explain to someone’s poor pooch (dogs welcome, minors not) that you’ve been drinking cider since your semester abroad in the UK.
[Blogger's note: I did not do a semester abroad in the UK]
The Fields Neighborhood Park, NW 10th & Overton, Fri June 19 at 2-8 pm, Sat June 20 at 12–6 pm, $30 adv/$35 (cash only) doors (tickets here)