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Thursday
Dec182008

Westcott Bay Orchards Cider Wins BIG

Rich Anderson of Westcott Bay Orchards Cider Rich Anderson of Westcott Bay Orchards Cider

Well the holidays are upon us, I need to rack my last ciders of the season and I have no idea where harvest season and Fall went to. I remember a lot of apples, a lot of milling, a lot of pressing and tons of hard work. It seemed to be over as fast as the first apple was picked. I can only imagine what small scale craft and traditional cider makers have to endure and I'd rather not find out what the big boys do.

So I've been dying to write this post for over a week now. Tonight seems as good as any if not better than some so here goes. I got an email sent out to the Northwest Cider Society list last week with some really great news. It appears the Northwest made another great showing at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition which is the only all cider competition in the North America. I was elated to read that Rich Anderson and Westcott Bay Orchards nabbed a handful of awards in the English Cider category and a Commercial Division Best of Show to boot. If I'm not mistaken Westcott Bay took home a Bronze Medal for their Traditional Dry Cider, a Silver Medal for the Traditional Very Dry Cider. Rich's newest cider the delectable Medium-Sweet (Semi-Sweet) Cider was the big winner with the Gold and Best of Show.

In the common cider category Drew Zimmerman from Red Barn Cider (Tulip Valley Winery) won a Gold with his new Sweetie Pie Gravenstein Cider and a Silver for his most excellent Burro Loco. The Burro is of my NW favorites for sure.

Westcott Bay Orchards Medium Sweet Cider Westcott Bay Orchards Medium Sweet Cider

Reading about Westcott Bay Orchards was particularly sweet. I may have mentioned it before but Westcott Bay was one of my very first tastes of a real tradtional cider made from real traditional English Cider apple varieties. I think I've been buying and drinking Westcott Bay 5 or 6 years now, through two label designs and two bottle sizes and I remember my first tastes of it vividly.

My first impression was one of surprise as I think most people new to traditional cider reaction might be. Not being a wine guy I had never tasted anything that dry and puckering. It was nothing like the micro brews I was drinking at the time or the commercially produced ciders I was experimenting with. I can't say it was love at first sip but I had to carry on... I mean I paid 5 bucks for a 22 Oz. bottle so I was gonna drink it.

Today that 5 dollars seems like a very tempting price but I remember it being a stretch, I'd never had "good" cider and come on you could get a 22 Oz'er of craft beer for like $3.50 - $4. It was really a bargain considering it was one of the best and possibly the only traditional NW cider you could find. Needless to say I made it through the bottle just fine and with an adjusted palate and an reconfigured conclusion of what a "hard" cider can can and should be my first bottle of Westcott and I parted on decent if not better terms. It only took a few more bottles for me to really start to crave spicy apple tannins and develop a real appreciation for traditional Westcott's Cider.

In my book Westcott Bay Orchards cider is still a bargain at around $8.00 for a 750 ml bottle, not to mention being one of the best ciders around at any price. I'd love to put up a review as it's been on my list for ages but alas the holidays are bound to keep me busy for the next week or two. Until then I can list a few places that I know of in Seattle and surrounding where you can pick up Westcott Bay Cider. If you can't find Westcott at your Washington or Oregon craft beer store/bottle shop, grocery store, fine restaurant or pub ask for it. It is a fine local product we all need to enjoy.



Westcott Bay Cider @ Seattle Stores:

Seattlelites if you know of more places where Westcott Bay Cider can be found let me know so I can add them in.

Westcott Bay Cider In Olympia

  • Gravity Beer Market - 1001 4th Ave East Olympia, WA - http://www.gravitybeermarket.com/ - No self respecting craft brew drinker that lives in or around Oly needs this recommendation. Gravity are fine folks and have been energetic about carrying the best ciders from the get-go. Olympians hop on down and pick up some Westcott Cider. Gravity also carries Red Barn, Blue Mountains, Samuel Smith and a host of other ciders.

  • Used to be in Top Foods on the West side however I haven't seen it there recently. They better get on it!



Congratulations to Rich and I thank you for making your cider buddy. Without Westcott Cider you all wouldn't be reading this blog, my life would be vastly different. I know one thing for sure, I shudder to think what I would be drinking now without it.
Tuesday
Nov042008

American Election Day/Cider Related Story

The Inebriated Election of 1840
The American Spectator posts "The Inebriated Election of 1840"

Go out and vote.

Tuesday
Nov042008

Hard Cider Making and Orcharding Workshop November 11 in Sultan Washington.

Cider Academy23 WSU Tree Fruit Specialist Gary Moulton

I'd seen this prior to reading it in today's HeraldNet.com (Everett Herald) but I thought I'd drop a quick note for any Washington State residents reading out there.

Gary Moulton seen in the picture here is the Washington State University Extension tree fruit specialist at the Mount Vernon station. Gary will be heading up a day long Hard Cider Making and Orcharding workshop in Sultan Washington next Tuesday November 11th.

Gary is a really great knowledgeable guy and was one of the highlights of attending the WSU station's week long cider course with Peter Mitchell. I'd highly recommend that anyone interested in crafting traditional ciders or orcharding take the day off and GO!

As I mentioned you can read about it here on HeraldNet.com.

And here is an excerpt of their original email providing the details:

Join us Tuesday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ed's Apples in Sultan and find out what it takes to grow and maintain your own cider orchard. In addition, you'll learn the steps necessary to create a quality hard cider product, a rapidly-growing boutique small farm product niche.

WSU Tree Fruit Specialist Gary Moulton will present an in-depth overview of the topic including varietal selection, growing and harvesting information, as well as an informal look at the production steps from raw fruit to finished bottle.

The cost is $55 per person and includes a box lunch. Pre-registration is required. To register, download the form at <http://snohomish.wsu.edu/ag/workshops/hardcider08.pdf>www.snohomish.wsu.edu/ag/workshops/hardcider08.pdf and mail with your check, or contact Karie Christensen at 425.338.2400 or <mailto:klchristen@cahnrs.wsu.edu>klchristen@cahnrs.wsu.edu.

Ed's Apples is located at 13420 339th Ave. SE, Sultan, just off S.R. 2.
Saturday
Oct182008

First Annual Cider Fest - The Morning Events w/ Guest Blogger

Vashon CIder Fest Poster Cider Fest 2008 - Vashon Island, Washington

Dave's Foreword: Harvest time has proven itself a busy one this year. Not only have a nabbed local all the apples I could lay my hands on but I've also stolen some precious moments away for a couple cider adventures. The first of which was Vashon Cider Fest. An event that I could talk my girlfriend Heather into, I believe in part because it ended with a fancy expensive dinner. Fancy expensive dinners are one of her weaknesses and when these dinners include cider pairings with each course... well you can count me in too. Since we both went I thought it might be nice to co-author a post with her. However after reading what she's written so far I'm kind of enjoying her fresh perspective on the morning's events. Her post ends where the tasting portion of the day begins so either I'll post about the tasting and dinner or she will or we will or something. In any case more to follow.

The first annual Cider Festival was truly amazing. Dave and I caught the 9:30 ferry which carried us to our destination. After a quick side-trip to visit one of my coffee customers I asked "how far to the farmers market?" the response was... "well would you like to drive around the building or just go out the back door" ;) We reparked and proceeded to wander through a fruit filled tent. The Vashon Fruit Club had four tables filled with apple varieties from all over the island. All shapes, sizes, and flavor classifications. It was a beautiful site. There were people setting up the fruit dessert table and the pressing had already started. The group put together a community pressing where people could bring apples and fill up a 1/2 gallon to take home. I later learned that the event had been much better received than the group had imagined. They had purchased 1/2 gallon containers for this year's event and next years - to get the bulk deal - and they used all that supply and had to go by more! They even had to leave in the afternoon to pick more apples from a community tree in order to fulfill the demand for juice.

Dr. Bob Norton Apple Identification - Fascinating Work! Dr. Bob Norton Apple Identification - Fascinating Work!

I encouraged Dave to get in line to get his cemetary cider apples ID'd by Dr. Bob Norton. We got in line after a man who had 10 bags of fruit off trees from one of his properties on the island. Bob proceeded to identify gravenstein after gravenstein tree... which you can tell by it's hollow core and stripey exterior. Dr. Bob stopped half way through and asked the guy to wait - if he would - to let us go since we had been waiting a few moments. I told him to keep going - I was enjoying the master at work. He used his spray bottle with iodine solution to determine ripeness, his refractometer to read sugar level, his palate to determine the apple profile of bitter/sharp, bitter/sweet or sweet and his photocopy of an old book called "Systematic Pomology" by Hendrick to identify possible names. WOW... it was amazing to watch someone with that much experience and knowledge at work. Pomology, what an awesome skill to have! I have always been crazy for identifying things. Just ask my Mom - I ask for ID books for the Christmas. I read them cover to cover. I could have sat next to him all day....

Apple Identification Discussion with Bob Norton and Rich Anderson - Cider Fest 08 Apple ID discussion at a booth the Vashon Farmer's Market

The Vashon Market was small but the vendors had a great selection of summer to fall crops... I got some fresh ricotta, a beautiful squash and some of the last tomatoes of the season. One vendor had caramel apples... yum!

After lunch Dave and I made our way back to the Market for the cider class. I took diligent notes and know that because I am required to attend the cider class at the WSU extension office next year that this class only scratched the surface. But it was fun to listen to three great NW cider makers from here in the NW talk casually about the passion that they all share...

Thanks to Heather for our first Cider Fest entry. Tasting and Dinner post will be coming soon as promised above.
Monday
Oct062008

The First Annual Vashon Cider Fest

Well we can only hope it will be annual. Last Saturday Heather and I spent the day on Vashon Island and had a really excellent and very full day of on and off inclement weather and cider related activities. For now we have some pictures you can view up on my Flickr feed and in the not too distant future I'll post, and just maybe I can talk Heather into co-authoring with me.

Big thanks to the Ron Irvine, Dr. Bob Norton, Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA), the Vashon Fruit Club, Vashon Rotary, and Vashon Schools PTSA, the exhibitors and everyone else involved. I thought it was a really well organized and well planned event. Heather and I were fascinated by Dr. Bob Norton's apple identifications, the tasting was just plain awesome and what can I say about the dinner/cider pairing other than is was the perfect ending to a great day. Thanks guys!

Queen Cox - Vashon Grown Apples and Fruit on Display Queen Cox - Vashon Grown Apples and Fruit on Display

Dr. Bob Nortons Apple Identification - Fascinating Work! Dr. Bob Norton's Apple Identification - Fascinating Work!

Apple Identification Discussion with Bob Norton and Rich Anderson - Vashon Cider Fest 08 Apple Identification Discussion with Bob Norton and Rich Anderson - Vashon Cider Fest 08

Wandering Aengus Cider - Vashon Cider Fest 08 Tasting Wandering Aengus Cider - Vashon Cider Fest 08 Tasting

Blue Mountain Cider Company - Vashon Cider Fest 08 Tasting Blue Mountain Cider Company - Vashon Cider Fest 08 Tasting

Rich Andersons Westcott Bay Orchards Cider Apples Rich Anderson's Westcott Bay Orchards Cider Apples