Ciders on the Horizon?

For the second year in a row, I was unable to attend Saturday's Portland Cider Summit.  Regrettably.  (I was unable, but I bet others skipped it because of a deluge that produced .9 inches of rain.  Ah, June!)  I know, I know--we are all probably suffering from a little "artisanal fatigue."  Artisanal beers, liquors, and wines have all enjoyed long and fruitful runs.  Ciders remain a decided dark horse in the crowded field of handmade alcohol.  In a way, though, the region may be more suited to them than it is to wine and maybe even beer--apples are among the favorite fruits in Oregon and Washington. 

Photo credit: Culinate.
I admit to near complete ignorance of ciders (though I have tried my hand at making one).  I know that they played a large role in the nutrition and entertainment of North American settlers, that they were so fundamental to rural life that they were explicitly exempted from Prohibition, and that there are different traditions of cider-making from the rough, still Basque ciders to the refined, effervescent French ones.  (Britain, as usual, plays an important role.)  I know that some are sweetened and therefore terrible, while some are unsweetened and as tart and complex as--and not entirely dissimilar to--straight lambic.  I also know that the Pacific Northwest is on the vanguard of the American craft cider revival. 

I probably won't spend a lot of time in study between now and the third annual Cider Summit--I've got that other project to consider.  I may spend a little.  Over the weekend, I decided to drown my cider-summit-missing-sorrows in a bottle of Pear Anthem--a line of Wandering Aengus.  Despite the name, it's not a perry (cider made of pears), but an apple cider with a minority of pear.  A lovely tipple, quite dry and tart--leaning in the direction of Brussels, if you want the truth--with floral blossom notes and something spicy underneath.  Ciders may have flavor elements that remind one of wine or lambic, and this one had both.

Man cannot live by beer alone.  I recommend a trip to the store for a cider to shake things up, palate-wise.  A change of pace is a good thing.