Cider Rite of Spring '16: March 19

Cider Rite of Spring returns on Saturday, March 19 for its 3rd annual tasting event. I attended last year and had a great time. You can see my Cider Rite of Spring 2015 recap here. Here are a few reasons why I look forward to attending again:

  1. Meet the Cidermakers.  They serve their own ciders and love to educate consumers. Take the opportunity to ask them questions and learn about what you're drinking.
  2. Lots of Variety.  Last year, 30 producers served nearly 120 different ciders. Cider is following a path similar to craft beer. You'll find barrel-aged cider, wild cider, cider with fruit, and more. 
  3. Great Venue.  The Tiffany Center is right on the MAX line. It's nice venue, and the event wasn't overly crowded last year. Wait times for pours were virtually non existant. Let's hope it stays that way!

For more details and pricing information, check out the news release below.

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

25 top cidermakers anticipated for seasonal tasting celebration

Portland, Ore. - February 9 – The Northwest Cider Association’s Third Annual Cider Rite of Spring returns to Portland Saturday, March 19 with top cidermakers, a cider store and more. Lauded as the “Best Northwest Cider Festival” by SIP Northwest in 2015, festivities take place from 12 – 5 p.m. at the Tiffany Center in Portland (1410 SW Morrison). Northwest cideries confirmed to date include Alter Ego Cider, Carlton Cyderworks, Finnriver Farm and Cidery, E.Z. Orchards, Portland Cider Company, Rogue Cider, Dragon’s Head Cider, Locust Cider, Neigel Vintners Cider, New West Cider, Spire Mountain Cider, Snowdrift Cider Company and ^5 Cider. Cideries will be added as the date approaches, keep an eye on for updates.  

“On the heels of hosting the world’s largest cider conference in early February and with some of the region’s top cider spots, the Rose City is a hotbed of activity,” said Sherrye Wyatt, executive director of the Northwest Cider Association. “We’re thrilled with the quality and diversity our members produce and look forward to sharing that with cider lovers from around the Northwest.”

Tickets are $30 at the door, $25 in advance and $20 for NWCA members. Click here or visit for more information and to buy tickets. Attendees must be 21 years old and will receive a glass and eight tasting tickets. Food will be available for purchase with live music throughout the event. A pop-up retail store will give attendees the chance to buy their favorite ciders from the event to take home.  Doors will open at 11 a.m. for sponsors, media and NWCA members. Cider Rite of Spring is sponsored by FruitSmart, Locust Cider and Portland Cider Company. Proceeds benefit the Northwest Cider Association.

About Northwest Cider Association
Founded in 2010, the Northwest Cider Association (NWCA) brings cideries and cider lovers together to learn, experience and enjoy the Northwest cider culture. Representing more than 70 commercial cidermakers from throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia, the group is dedicated to supporting, promoting and growing this thriving industry. NWCA hosts cider-themed events, including Cider Rite of Spring, Summer Cider Day, and Cider Weeks in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. For more information about the Northwest Cider Association, visit, or follow the growing organization on Facebook and Twitter (@nwcider).

Tasting Notes: Full Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Wheatwine Ale

Ever heard of a a barleywine? It's a high alcohol (generally 8 - 15% ABV) beer made with barley. Barleywines tend to have a bite of alcohol in aroma and taste and are great candidates for cellaring, as time tends to round out the boozy edges.

Full Sail just released a Bourbon Barrel Aged version of its 27th Anniversary Wheatwine. A wheatwine is similar to a barleywine, but is made with wheat, instead of barley. I tasted the non-barrel aged version when it was released back in 2014. It had a boozy bite, but was not as strong as expected, and was surprisingly smooth overall.

A portion of that beer was aged in Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrels for a year, and is now being released under the name Full Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Wheatwine as part of the Brewmaster Reserve Series. The brewery sent me a few sample bottles. I just cracked on open. Here are my tasting notes:

Amber in color, clear, with a white head that dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma is full of carmel, vanilla, and of coursebourbon. In the taste, all three of these flavors are prominent. As the beer warms, different flavors emerge. I tasted notes of orange and coconut. Make no mistake, bourbon is the star of this beer, and the booziness makes its presence known in the middle and finish. This is a 12% ABV beer, after all. It's meant to be savored slowly.

Big beers are made for pairing. I paired mine with a coconut mango dark chocolate bar.  It was a good match, as the flavors in the chocolate and the beer complemented each other!

I'll stash my other sample bottle in the cellar for two years and see how it evolves. I expect it will smooth out nicely. Check back in 2018! For more details, see Full Sail's press release below.

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

The Wait is Over for Full Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Wheatwine Ale
Aging Wheatwine in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels adds a rich, complex structure

Hood River, Oregon – February 5, 2016 – “Cold turkey” takes on a whole new meaning with Full Sail’s latest beer from its Brewmaster Reserve Series – Bourbon Barrel Aged Wheatwine Ale, available now.

“Originally released in 2014 to celebrate our 27th anniversary, Wheatwine is brewed in the Barleywine style, yet contains no barley malt,” says Full Sail Executive Brewmaster Jamie Emmerson. “We reserved a portion of this special brew, racked it into Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels, and let it rest for a year in our cellar,” adds Full Sail Brewmaster Jim Kelter. “Barrel aging rounds out this big beer.”

Wheatwine is brewed with wheat and caramelized wheat malts and hopped with a blend of English and Northwest hops. Complex aromas of apricot, spice, and citrus lead to a smooth palate, blended with notes of caramel, marmalade, and green hop overtones. It pours a rich honey hue and opens up with complex aromas of barrel oak, vanilla and apricot. The spicy hop character has mellowed to accentuate flavors of vanilla, marmalade and dates. It finishes with a remarkable smoothness and a creamy mouthfeel.

“Don’t buy it, it’ll leave more for us!” jokes Emmerson. The brewmasters at Full Sail are confident that Bourbon Barrel Aged Wheatwine Ale has been worth the wait.

Full Sail’s Brewmaster Reserve series allows the brewmasters to put their creativity, innovation and passion into small, limited-release beers. These craft brews highlight the direct connection with Full Sail’s farmers, celebrate the art of barrel aging, and explore the effects of time. Over the years, Full Sail’s Brewmaster Reserve series has earned 18 gold medals. Brewmaster Reserve Bourbon Barrel Aged Wheatwine Ale is available in limited release in 22 oz. bottles and draft. 12% ABV, 42 IBUs.

About Full Sail Brewing Company
Perched on a bluff in Hood River, Oregon, overlooking the mighty Columbia River’s epic wind and kite surfing and the snow-capped volcanic peaks of Mt. Hood, Full Sail is a true craft-brewing pioneer. Since 1987, Full Sail has been pouring pure Mt. Hood water, local ingredients and responsible processes into each and every pint. Full Sail’s brews and sustainable practices have garnered more than 300 national and international awards, including 150 gold medals and Beverage World’s “Craft Brewer of the Year” distinction. From Full Sail Amber and IPA to Session Lager and bourbon barrel-aged beers, Full Sail consistently strives to brew complex, balanced and ridiculously tasty beers. Learn more at

Two Stouts and a Triple IPA from Ecliptic Brewing Co.

Ecliptic Brewing Co. continues its steady release of seasonal beers. This month looks especially tasty with the unveiling of three limited-release beers (descriptions provided by Ecliptic).

Oort Imperial Stout:  Oort is named after the mysterious region of our solar system that breeds comets. Massive amounts of roasted barley and chocolate malts combined with three types of caramel malts for a rich, full, mouth feel. Chinook, Cascade and Sterling hops lends a balanced bitterness and subtle hop flavor to this brew that’s as black as the vacuum of space.

Bourbon Barrel-Aged Oort Imperial Stout:  Barrel-aged version slumbered for fifteen months in 12-year-old bourbon barrels, imparting flavors of bitter chocolate, vanilla, and oak. It drinks especially chocolatey, with some heat from the barrel.

Hypernova Triple IPA:  Like its cataclysmic namesake, Hypernova Triple India Pale Ale explodes with flavor. Boasting a full malt backbone, Hypernova is layered with tons of hop bitterness and character. Two separate dry hop additions with loads of Simcoe, Amarillo, Motueka, Azacca, Calypso, Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus hops amplify Hypernova’s aroma to stellar proportions.

The two versions of Oort and Hypernova are making their way onto their shelves now.

Follow this blog on 
Twitter or Facebook

CiderCON '16: Day 1 Recap

CiderCON 2016, the nation's largest cider industry gathering kicked off today. Portland was chosen to host this year's event, which is typically held in Chicago. Over 1,000 people from 44 states and 5 countries travelled to Rose City for this rapidly growing event. Over 30 different sessions, covering a vast range of topics, were held in just the first day. Here's a brief overview of the sessions that I attended.

Cider Market Review & Outlook:  The cider industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, and experienced 15% growth in 2015.
  • If cider was a craft beer style, it would be the #2 selling style behind IPA.
  • Six-packs (of bottles) are the most widely used form of packaging in the cider industry, representing 55% of sales. Cans, currently 17% of sales, are growing in popularity. 
  • As the cider category has emerged, three distinct consumer segments have emerged: Occasional, Regular, and Core cider drinkers.
  • Plenty of long-term upside remains in the cider category. In 2015, cider represented just 1.1% of beer volume.

Perry with Tom Oliver:  Tom Oliver is an award-winning cider maker and owner of Oliver's Cider and Perry from Hereford, Herefordshire, England.
  • Perry is a cider made with pears, and dates back to 1629.
  • Oliver makes his perry in small batches, ferments with naturally occurring yeast, and practices minimum intervention as part of his process.
  • The perry pears used to produce his cider are very limited in number. Growing them to maturity takes nearly 30 years! On the plus side, they can produce for 100-130 years.
  • We were lucky enough to taste two of Oliver's perrys.  Both were tart, semi-dry, and had some light funky notesdelicious!  

2015 Apple Crop Update & 2016 Outlook
  • 93% of US apple production comes from 7 states (Washington is the largest).
  • 7.5% of the US apple crop was used to produce 54 million gallons of cider in 2014. 
  • Apples are the largest fruit export from the US, representing $1B of sales.
  • Most domestic apple production is for the "fresh" market. These are the apples you see in the grocery store. They're also known "dessert" fruit. 
  • High-end ciders are typically not made with dessert fruit.  Instead, ciders use apples that are high in tannins, which add complexity.
  • Apple juice concentrate is a by-product of the fresh segment. 
  • U.S. demand for apples and apple juice is so high that we must import product. Much of our supply comes from China, which produces over half of the world's apple supply.

Distributor Views of Cider:  Three distributors focused on craft beverages shared their views.
  • While cider is the fastest growing segment of their portfolios, it's still relatively small and has much room to grow.
  • Craft cider is growing faster and is taking share from macro cider.
  • Macro cider played a key role in the industry, as it established relevance for the category as a whole and created space for craft cider to grow. Macro cider first attracts consumers to the segment. Once they enjoy cider, they begin to explore the craft space.
  • Quote of the day...  "Millennials who live in their parents' basements have no issues with paying $12 for a six-pack (of cider)."

Rapid Expansion:  In this session, Brent Miles of Seattle Cider and Lee Larson of Two Towns Ciderhouse shared the lessons they learned as part of their journeys in building successful cideries. They covered a wide variety of topics including types of packaging, equipment, and even pros and cons of different types of filtration systems.

Hops & Cider:  Joe Casey of Square Mile Cider and Nat West of Reverend Nat's shared their tips and tricks of using hops in cider. Generally, ciders add hop flavors through the dry-hopping technique used commonly in craft beer. We tasted a unique "brewed" cider from Reverend Nat's that was brewed (like a beer) with three hop additions.  

In addition to all of the educational sessions, an industry trade show was held.  Vendors showcased a variety of wares from bottles to fermentersall the good stuff needed for a cidery. It was a great opening day!  I expect the final day of CiderCon 2016 will be even better!

Follow this blog on 
Twitter or Facebook

Inaugural Blasphemous Brewfest, February 6-7

I can't say that I've ever been to a psychedelic and stoner music festival. I may finally get my long-awaited chance this weekend at Sabertooth "Psychedelicstonerrockmicrofest" at McMenamins' Crystal Ballroom. As appealing as this mind altering experience may sound, I'm far more intrigued by the Blasphemous Brewfest that will occur as part of the event. Here are some details about the beer portion of the event. 

Blasphemous is a curated tasting experience comprised of unique products from seven innovative fermentation houses, showcasing their wild and weird small batch beer styles custom made for the festival by McMenamins and other local breweries.

Blasphemous offers patrons a unique, immersive, five-sense experience that complements the similarly unique, and blasphemous offerings. As these products are extremely small batch and rare, offerings will rotate based on availability. This unpredictability is our way of introducing a bit of chaos to the typical “brew fest” formula. Also, in keeping with this idea, we will strive to eliminate the inertia of line-waiting as well, and add a bit of stylized atmosphere for good measure.

Beers are available for purchase in Lola’s Room on Saturday and Sunday for ages 21 and over starting at 5 p.m. Sabertooth ticket holders can bring beers directly from the brew fest up to the Crystal Ballroom to watch music.

I'm a big fan of experimental small batch beers.  Here's the taplist:

  • Date Night 2015, Cascade Brewing Co., Bourbon barrel blend, with dates and mulling spices
  • Oaken Tower, McMenamins Crystal Brewery, Wild fermented raspberry ginger beer
  • The Pathfinder, Breakside Brewery, Gin-barrel double IPA, dry hopped
  • Carpe Diem Mañana, Ale Apothecary, Wild fermented hoppy ale
  • Ralph, Ale Apothecary, Wild white fir ale, aged in pinot barrels
  • Barrel Blend of Rose / Four Play, Upright Brewing, Barrel blend
  • Black Rose, McMenamins Edgefield Brewery, Sour Terminator fermented in bourbon barrels for 1 year.  

There's nothing ordinary about any of these beers. They all sound amazing!

Entry to the Blasphemous Brewfest is included with a Sabertooth Micro Fest ticket. Beers are $2.50/4 oz. sample. All beers (except Ale Apothecary and Cascade Brewing) are available in pint and half pint pours with variable pricing. For more details, check out the press release below.

Follow this blog on 
Twitter or Facebook

– McMenamins’ Sophomore MicroFest Celebrates Crystal Ballroom’s Past –

WHAT:  McMenamins presents the second annual Sabertooth MicroFest, a psychedelic and stoner music packed weekend, taking place Feb. 5-7, 2016 in downtown Portland. Drawing on the counterculture history of the Crystal Ballroom, Sabertooth celebrates the mind-altering experiences that started in mid-'60s folk, rock and blues. From the Peace Rites of Allen Ginsburg and historic performances by the Grateful Dead through the Flaming Lips Boom Box Experiment, the Crystal has always been the place to experience psychedelic music in all its forms. The bands featured this year, including Super Furry Animals, Red Fang and Built to Spill, represent a wide range of psychedelic music styles and interpretations of the art form.

In addition to a full music line-up, MicroFest goers and craft brew aficionados can enjoy the Blasphemous Brew Fest – a showcase of seven wild and weird small batch beer styles custom made for the MicroFest by McMenamins and other local breweries. Beers are available for purchase in Lola’s Room on Saturday and Sunday for ages 21 and over. Sabertooth ticket holders can bring beers from the brew fest up to the Crystal Ballroom to watch the show.

In the spirit of the event, Al’s Den (at Crystal Hotel) features its own psychedelic stylings all weekend from 7-10 p.m. by two of Portland’s homegrown artists: World’s Finest on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5-6 and Quick and Easy Boys on Sunday, Feb. 7.

Sabertooth music line-up at Crystal Ballroom


  • World’s Finest, 7 p.m. (Al’s Den)
  • King Black Acid, 8 p.m.
  • Earth, 9 p.m.
  • Super Furry Animals, 10:15 p.m.


  • Beer Fest, 5 p.m. (Lola’s Room)
  • Eternal Tapestry, 6:30 p.m.
  • World’s Finest, 7 p.m. (Al’s Den)
  • Witch Mountain, 7:20 p.m.
  • OB, 8:25 p.m.
  • Red Fang, 9:30 p.m.


  • Blasphemous Beer Fest, 5 p.m. (Lola’s Room)
  • Brett Netson & Snakes, 6:30 p.m.
  • Quick and Easy Boys, 7 p.m. (Al’s Den)
  • The Fresh & Onlys, 7:20 p.m.
  • Mikal Cronin, 8:25 p.m.
  • Built to Spill, 9:30 p.m. 

* Showtimes subject to change, check the website for updates

Blasphemous Brews at Sabertooth provided by:

  • Ale Apothecary
  • Breakside Brewery
  • Cascade Brewing
  • McMenamins Crystal Brewery
  • McMenamins Edgefield Brewery
  • McMenamins Thompson Brewery
  • Upright Brewing

February 5-7, 2016
Friday: Doors at 6 p.m., Music at 7 p.m.
Saturday: Doors and Brew Fest at 5 p.m., Music at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday: Doors and Brew Fest at 5 p.m., Music at 6:30 p.m.

3-day pass: $85 advance, $90 day of show
VIP Viewing Area* (21 and Over) - $140 advance, $145 day of show
Individual day passes: $30 advance, $35 day of show
VIP Viewing Area* (21 and Over) - $50 advance, $55 day of show

* Limited amount of VIP tickets available

McMenamins Crystal Ballroom and Lola’s Room
1332 W. Burnside
Portland, OR 97209

Al’s Den at Crystal Hotel
303 S.W. 12th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209

SPONSORS: Presenting sponsors are McMenamins, Portland Mercury and XRAY.FM. Additional support from Jackpot Records, Sizzle Pie and Voodoo Doughnuts.


About Crystal Ballroom
McMenamins Crystal Ballroom is a historic dance hall that has been a part of downtown Portland, Ore. for 102 years. The hall has seen countless first loves unfold, police raids, visits by silent screen idols and Beat poets, psychedelic light shows, narrow escapes from fire, demolition, and neglect, and a listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Today the music palace hosts everything from rock ’n’ roll and country, to hip-hop and big band swing and is well-known for its original floating dance floor.

About McMenamins
McMenamins operates 54 distinctive pubs, restaurants and historic hotels in the Pacific Northwest. Founded by brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin with a single Portland neighborhood pub in 1983, McMenamins today includes eight Washington locations and 45 Oregon properties, 18 on the National Register of Historic Places. McMenamins handcrafts its own beer, wine, spirits, cider and coffee and offers an eclectic mix of pubs, hotels, movie theaters, concert venues, spas and events for guests to enjoy.

# # #

Zwickelmania Returns on February 13

Mark your calendars! Oregon’s largest and most unique beer event will be held in a few weeks. On Saturday, February 13, breweries across the great state of Oregon will open their doors and zwickels for curious and thirsty beer fans.

Why should you attend? First, a local brewery is brewery is likely participating.  Second, many of events are free. Third, you’ll get a behind the scenes peak (and taste) into how your favorite beers are made!

Did you know some beers tastes great with chocolate? Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker, authors of Beer Bites, a new beer pairing cookbook, will be providing beer and chocolate pairing tips at participating breweries. For more details, check out the Zwickelmania site.

Follow this blog on Twitter or Facebook

Oregon's 8th Annual Zwickelmania Arrives Feb. 13
Celebrate the Holiday Weekend with Brewery Open House Events and Chocolate Pop-ups

PORTLAND, Ore. — What is Zwickelmania? Discover for yourself, and go behind the scenes at your favorite breweries, during Zwickelmania on Saturday, February 13th from 11a.m. to 4p.m.  It’s the one day every year when breweries throughout Oregon open their doors to beer novices and aficionados alike for this annual Presidents’ Day weekend tradition. This year, Valentine’s Day happens to fall on the same weekend, giving even more reason to celebrate. More than 120 breweries, both big and small, participate with meet-the-brewer events, tours and beer tastings. 

Zwickelmania guests can also experience Oregon beers paired with another Oregon favorite — chocolate! For the first time, look for special chocolate pop-ups with members of the Portland Chocolate Mob at select breweries in the Portland metro area. The Oregon Brewers Guild is partnering with Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker, the experts and authors behind the new cookbook, Beer Bites (Chronicle, 2015), to provide exclusive beer and chocolate pairing tip cards — available at participating breweries. 

Oregon Brewers Guild executive director Brian Butenschoen says, “With more than 120 breweries open across nearly 30 cities, it is the best time to visit Oregon and check out your favorite brewery this Valentine's Day Weekend.”

For those planning a special holiday weekend getaway, be sure to check out the Zwickelmania event page for participating breweries in one of Oregon’s seven brewing regions. The Oregon Brewers Guild lays out maps, brewery listings and itineraries that you can view online or print out for Bend, Eugene, the Portland metro area, Salem and Southern Oregon.

Last year, more than 32,500 people toured 115 participating breweries statewide and the Oregon Brewers Guild expects that number to increase in 2016 with many beer fans enjoying a long holiday weekend. 

For more information, head to, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #Zwickel16.

#     #     #

About The Oregon Brewers Guild
The Oregon Brewers Guild is Oregon’s non-profit trade association for the state’s independent breweries. The Guild, which receives no state funding, comprises 147 brewing companies, 117 associate or supplier members and more than 3,500 enthusiast members or S.N.O.B.s (Supporters of Native Oregon Beer). For more information, see

About Zwickelmania
Zwickelmania, created by the Oregon Brewers Guild, celebrated its inaugural year in 2009. It takes its name from the zwickel, or sample port which mounts on the outside of fermentation or conditioning tanks and allows brewers to sample for quality assurance and control. Similarly, Zwickelmania offers a unique opportunity to taste beers where they were produced and interact with the brewers who created them.

About the Portland Chocolate Mob
The Portland Chocolate Mob is a passionate group of Chocolate Makers and Chocolatiers on a collective mission to share quality chocolate with the world. They are excited to work with local brewers to spread cocoa awareness and celebrate their love for chocolate. To learn more, check out