Seattle Cider Harvest Release Party

I arrived at my destination, 4700 Ohio Ave S, Seattle, WA, around 1:30 pm for the Seattle Cider Company’s 4th annual Harvest Series release. Apples for their five featured ciders are pressed during harvest in the fall of 2016 and after six months of aging they are bottled up and released in the spring. Being the fan that I am of their ciders, I was not going to miss an opportunity to visit this event. The sun was out and it was almost 65 degrees, which felt like 85 degrees considering that most of Western Washington had undergone 150+ days of less than stellar weather. All of us from the PNW know that layers are pretty much a must at all times, but I am happy to say that I sufficed with only two layers, not the typical three (jacket, hoodie/cardigan/shirt)!

Approaching the front steps of Two Beers and Seattle Cider Company, a space that both of these companies share, I was awestruck by the industrial-eco-modern look and feel they have going on. A beautifully open outdoor seating area with a large glass-paned garage door open to the pleasant weather. Large wooden beams gazed overhead and large flowers barrels reminded patrons that spring has sprung.

Once inside the building, there was a table to my left where City Fruit was pouring freshly-pressed non-alcoholic cider. There I spoke with a few ladies who informed me of what City Fruit does and how they partnered with Seattle Cider Company last year to make one of the five ciders in the Harvest Series, the City Fruit. More info on that project can be found here.

The Space & Tasting

As I turned to the space, the room opened to a magnificently designed 24-tap bar with equal amounts beer and cider. The left side of the tap being Two Beers and the right side of the tap Seattle Cider. A commissary kitchen that Bread and Circus was occupying at that time was bustling serving up a great selection of cider and beer-friendly foods.  This trip I was unable to enjoy their intriguing menu but next time I won’t miss it!

Caitlin, the president of Seattle Cider Company, greeted me with a kind handshake and a warm smile. Maybe I was too obvious with my black notebook, phone in hand snapping pictures!

After our introductions we found a table and sat down; she got us our flight and we were ready to begin our cider tasting!

Before we were able to take our first sip, my good friend Allison and her boyfriend Miles joined us. I take any opportunity I have to share cider with friends. As I knew they would, they instantly connected. It also turned out that they have a mutual friend who happens to work with Seattle Cider!

Once Allison and Miles received their flights Caitlin took us through a proper tasting as she extensively described each cider and its uniqueness.

Our tasting went in the following order:

Washington Heirloom
ABV: 6.9%
BRIX: 1.0
APPLES: Newtown Pippin, Winesaps, Jonathans
TASTING NOTES: The 2015 harvest brought us aromatic Winesaps, tart Newtown Pippins and sharp Jonathans, which we fermented into the flagship cider of our Harvest Series – bright, acidic and bursting with citrus notes.
FOOD PAIRINGS: Quiche, Camembert, Pork Tenderloin

Gravenstein Rose
ABV: 6.9%
BRIX: .75
APPLES: Gravenstein
TASTING NOTES: Early season Gravenstein apples, aged in wine barrels previously used to hold Mourvédre, created one of our favorite ciders of the harvest. A bouquet of fruity, berry-like aromas shines through in this floral, citrus forward cider.
FOOD PAIRINGS: Risotto, Grilled Asparagus, Ahi Tuna Steak

City Fruit
ABV: 6.3%
APPLES: More than 40 varieties from Seattle trees
TASTING NOTES: This delicious cider is made in collaboration with City Fruit, a local non-profit dedicated to feeding thousands of local Seattle families. This tart, herbaceous cider features more than 40 varieties of local apples. Proceeds go directly to City Fruit to support their annual harvest.
FOOD PAIRINGS: Oysters, Smoked Salmon, Stone Fruit

Winesap Rose
ABV: 6.0%
APPLES: Made with Winesap apples
TASTING NOTES: One of Washington’s oldest fruits is showcased in this single-varietal beauty. Aged in used Syrah wine barrels, the juice of these small Naches Valley apples is both aromatic and tart, offering a beautiful full-bodied cider with flavors of grapefruit, lemongrass and cedar.
FOOD PAIRINGS: Chevre, Halibut, Castelvetrano Olives

ABV: 5.8%
APPLES: Seckel, Starkrimson, Forelle and Perry pears
TASTING NOTES: Early and late season pears are cold-fermented, then aged through the winter, to foster the delicate floral and fruity character of this cider. Both soft and complex, it yields an earthy aroma and woody funk which give way to citrus and a mellow pear sweetness.
FOOD PAIRINGS: Tarragon Chicken, Stilton, Lamb Skewer

The Tour

As the four of us gathered our ciders and began our stroll through the enormous facility, we saw where the magic at Seattle Cider and Two Beers happens. However, before we made it behind the scenes I couldn’t help but notice the gaming area that is set up for Cideseekers to enjoy. Complete with pool table, shuffleboard table, darts, and video games there is everything you would want but never knew you needed. The rest of the tour took us to the room where the magic happens. Cue MTV Cribs video here.

While walking through the space, we learned more about Caitlin and her time as a broadcast journalist, her move from the Midwest to Seattle, her time as a freelance PR & Marketing agent, and how she ended up with Seattle Cider. She also did a phenomenal job of telling Seattle Cider’s story and the timeline of events that make up the history of both Two Beers and Seattle Cider. The biggest piece being the journey of Joel Vandenbrink (founder of Two Beers and Seattle Cider) being diagnosed with Chrones disease and how that led him to his gluten-free choice, cider. There is a great corner of the merchandise area that gives a visual display of the timeline of events between the two companies which also has a map showing where you can find Seattle Cider across the USA.

All in All

Aside from learning more about the company, and the production, I found my favorite part of our tour was being able to see the machine where every single can of Seattle Cider is produced.

My tour and time with Caitlin and friends ended with a photo shoot and a stop at their store where I took home some glasses and a bottle of each of the Harvest Series. I’m looking forward to my next visit and my next cocktail creation featuring Seattle Cider. It will be the perfect drink to get anyone ready for the upcoming hot days and cool nights!

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