Portland, Oregon is the location for next year's Cider Con, and while I'm excited to satiate my curiousity about the Pacific Northwest cider scene then and there, I cannot wait that long. Hence, I'm breaking out one of the bottle my wonderful husband brought back from there. Let's find out what Portland Cider Company is all about.
Here's a link to their website: http://portlandcider.com
This is how the company introduces themselves:
What do you do when you’re frustrated by the quality of the commercial cider available? You start making your own! What do you do when friends and family keep telling you it’s the best cider they’ve ever had? You start a business! That is the essence of how the Portland Cider Company got its start. Founded by Jeff Parrish, an Oregon native, and his wife Lynda, an ex-patriot from the Somerset region of England (the Mecca of cider), the Portland Cider Company is based on the belief that good cider comes from good fruit, honest practices, and attention to detail.
Our cider starts with fresh pressed juice from Northwest grown apples. We then carefully ferment it using yeast that protects the delicate characteristics of the fruit. The results are cider blends that are easy to drink, refreshing, and downright delicious. Drink it, it’s good!I appreciate their friendly and approachable tone. Their claim that many folks have preferred their cider to all others sets my expectations fairly high, especially given that they are using a range of apples that many cider makers find somewhat challenging when attempting to make their ciders inspired rather than competent. Many modern breeds of dessert fruit work just fine, but they don't often do the heavy lifting for the cider makers therefore it is up to the fermentation process to make the cider shine.
Since this is my first review of anything by Portland Cider Company, I want to start with their flagship cider called Kinda Dry. I admit that the unpretentious name is completely charming to me. Here's how Portland Cider Company describes it.
Traditional English cider is dry, lightly carbonated, has very subtle apple flavors, and a lingering fresh finish. It is in the spirit of this traditional cider that we blend our Kinda Dry. We use fresh pressed juice from a blend of NW grown culinary apples such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Gala, Golden and Red Delicious, carefully ferment them with a yeast that preserves their subtle characteristics, give the cider time to develop to its full potential, then bottle or keg at just the right time. Just off dry, light, clean, refreshing, with a pleasant finish, Kinda Dry is the cider to always have on hand.
Appearance: lots of visible bubbles, brilliant, warm, golden peach color
This pretty cider looks simply enticing with its brilliance and bubbles. I found it challenging to decipher the color precisely, but after weighing half a dozen different shades of yellow, I think the color of golden peaches captures it reasonably well.
Aromas: soft apples, stones, followed by a edge more green and tart
This cider smells stony first then softly appley. I anticipate based on the aromas that it will have some tart green apple sweetness and a sharp barely bitter edge. Breathing in this cider deeply is richly rewarding. It smells pleasantly vinous as well. My mouth waters.
Flavors and drinking experience: Dry
At first, the Kinda Dry's taste comes across as acid puckering tartness. Very Low sugar. I'd actually call this dry rather than off dry, but the acid could be affecting my experience. The cider offers a lingering finish with a little goodbye twist to the salivary glands. The acid is not especially citrusy or bright: too dry to perceive the acid that way perhaps. I enjoy this level of carbonation which is neither too much nor too little.
Right now, I'd pair this bone dry cider with the last few episodes of Mad Men. That intoxicating world will only be with us for two more episodes. The characters are already slowing and stumbling in their interaction in the strange world of the 1970s. I think a super crisp high acidity cider is just the thing to keep us from feeling to maudlin or bogged down. Even as I love that show, though it sometimes gives me way too many feelings. I think this particular cider is enough to wake us up and keep us in 2015 even while we watch this show's surreal descent.
In terms of food, I'd pair this with a gourmet grilled cheese (the internet is full of these recipes and variations) and fresh cucumber salad. I want to pair this cider with tastes both seasonal and exciting!