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.
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:
- Whole Foods Markets - 1026 NE 64th St, Seattle, WA - You'll find it at any of the Puget Sound stores I believe. Like it or not Whole Foods knows how to embrace a fine local Slow Food.
- Ballard Market - 1400 NW 56th St, Seattle, WA - Ballard and Central Market (below) are owned by the same company and have long embraced great local products. If you haven't been give them a try.
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.