A Northeast Portland cidery known for its locally sourced ciders—and for taking local far-right protesters to court—is for sale.
A classified ad for Cider Riot, the NE Couch taproom and cider production facility, appeared on ProBrewer.com Wednesday afternoon. The posting, first reported by Portland beer blogger Warren Wills, lists the 9,800 square foot facility,its brewing equipment, and the rest of a 6-year lease for $700,000. For $175,000 extra, a buyer can also acquire the Cider Riot brand and intellectual property.
Cider Riot founder and owner Abram Goldman-Armstrong says the sale comes after a few years of quietly searching for investors to help keep the production and distribution side of his business profitable. Goldman-Armstrong says that when he signed the lease on the building in 2016, he built a facility that would produce up to 5,000 barrels of cider a year. But Cider Riot is only selling an annual average of 1,000 barrels. He blames low production on Cider Riot's inability to invest in critical marketing and distribution costs.
"We're not seeing the organic growth that we expected three years ago," says Goldman-Armstrong. "I've run out of options."
Goldman-Armstrong is hoping to sell his company to someone who'll keep Cider Riot up and running.
"For me, the ideal scenario would be someone interested keeping it open, keeping me on as a cider maker, and passionate about growing the company," he says. "But it's too early to tell if that's a realistic option."
Cider Riot gained recent notoriety for being the backdrop of a violent May 1 confrontation between anti-fascist and members of Vancouver, WA's alt-right group, Patriot Prayer. Patriot Prayer leaders appeared to instigate a fight with anti-fascist patrons sitting on Cider Riot's patio, sending one woman to the hospital, and resulting in a criminal investigation by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). Days after the clash, Goldman-Armstrong sued members of Patriot Prayer—including group founder Joey Gibson—for damages. In August, PPB arrested Gibson and five other men affiliated with Patriot Prayer for the May 1 attack.
Cider Riot's social media pages have been plagued with hateful comments and scathing reviews from people affiliated with the far-right since Goldman-Armstrong sued.
Yet, according to Goldman-Armstrong, the public spotlight on his company has nothing to do with his decision to sell the cidery.
"That doesn’t have any impact on us in a real world way," he says, adding that the pub has continued to be profitable since the May brawl. "The City of Portland's permit office is more of a threat to business than a bunch of Nazi trolls."
Goldman-Armstrong says the city took five months to approve his building permit to construct the cidery, meaning that, after construction, he had to pay the building's $10,000 rent for six months without being able to make a profit. These kind of permit delays have become a scourge for many small business owners in Portland—and have led to the demise of other local breweries.
"It’s such a typical thing to say 'Portland’s a tough city to do business in,' but it really is true," says Goldman-Armstrong. "If you want to build a condo [the city will] roll out the red carpet and put the red tape away. But if you’re a small business they don’t make it easy. "
Goldman-Armstrong says he's looking to sell Cider Riot before the end of October.