Hood River and Gorge cider makers share the spotlight with their fermenting friends from around Oregon and Washington in the fifth annual Hood River Hard Pressed Cider Fest, April 20 at Mt. Defiance Cold Storage in Odell, just off Highway 35.
The festival is the main event in Hood River Chamber of Commerce’s annual Blossom Time.
Craft cider makers source the apples, pears and other fruits from 440 or so local orchardists, creating ciders that offer a taste of Hood River. According to the Chamber of Commerce website, the region is “at the forefront of the new national hard cider movement.”
Much has happened in the past year or two in the burgeoning Gorge cider scene. The newest cidery is Son of Man, opening in fall 2018 in Cascade Locks and specializing in dry Spanish-style ciders. Also in 2018, Runcible opened its scenic tap room and patio outside of Mosier, joining Rack and Cloth in the Mosier cider circle.
Slopeswell and Rivercider in Hood River and FoxTail in Odell, along with Rack and Cloth, formed the first wave of commercial producers in the area. Cider Crush in Hood River, Gorge White House in Pine Grove, Golden Row from the McAlexanders’ Mt. View Orchards in Parkdale, Draper Girls in Mt. Hood, and Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River expand the circle.
Most local cideries source fruits from the Hood River valley, and many ciders are made from fruit grown on property co-located with the cidery. The McAlexanders, Drapers, the Strucks at Rivercider and Double Mountain’s Matt Swihart use apples, pears, or cherries grown on their own land.
You can find Rivercider’s Screech Owl and other ciders in stores, and Double Mountain’s are bottled and distributed to stores, as well as available in bottles and on tap at the downtown brewery.
Double Mountain unveils its Rose cider this spring along with single-varietal Arkansas Black and Wickson crabapple ciders.
FoxTail is bringing back an old favorite, Rosenberry (boysenberry and rose hips) and a mead-cider cross to go with its annual edition of perry. Look for Sir Isaac and Docklands among other of the cidery’s staples at Hard-Pressed.
Slopeswell is now bottling its Black Currant and Keel, and plans to put both in cans as well this summer.
This spring, look for new Slopeswell wares, including “Remedy,” employing beets and garlic, inspired by Remedy Juice Cafe in downtown Hood River. Cider master John Metta and his assistant, Maegen Goulet, toast with glasses of Remedy on the cover of this section.
The Heights taproom hosts a series of regular events: Spirituality on tap, 6:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month; Wordswell, a night or writers, open mic format, the third Thursday at 6:30; Pub Quiz on the fourth Thursday, 6:30 p.m., and Polenta Night at 5:30 p.m. on the second Friday, served up by Rooted Event Co.
Crush Café serves up its own ciders and perry at its 20-tap Wasco Street cider bar along with Oregon and Washington ciders, and Slopeswell on the Heights, Gorge White House (Fruit Loop), and the self-marketed FoxTail all have tasting rooms. Golden Row and Draper Girls sell from farmstands along the Fruit Loop.
By the bottle or on tap, look no farther than:
- McIsaac’s Store, Parkdale
- Golden Row is bottled and available at locations including Boda’s Kitchen, where Matt Johnston curates an ever-interesting selection of beer, wine and cider.
- 64 Oz. taproom, the 30-tap haven on Third Street in Hood River, dedicates at least four taps to cider
- On the Heights, Farm Stand carries ciders, and Volcanic Bottle Shoppe always has at least a couple of taps devoted to cider, and a large selection of bottled ciders
It was not that many years ago that on-tap cider sightings were limited to a few restaurants, pubs or taprooms.
Now, the establishment that does not offer one or more local ciders is the rarity, and some breweries that are not making their own make a tap or two available at their pubs, and some cideries return the favor. Slopeswell regularly serves one or more Ferment varieties, and Full Sail and FoxTail have a collaborative cider continually on tap.