Afternoon at Cider Rite of Spring '18

This past weekend was packed full of great events in Portland! I managed to attend two of them. On Saturday, my wife and I attended Cider Rite of Spring. The event has grown and festival organizers moved it to the Leftbank Annex, after holding it at the Tiffany Center for the last few years. The new venue was bright, airy, with loads of room. More on that in a bit...

This was the third time we attended Cider Rite of Spring, and this year was the best yet! Here's a rundown of some of my thoughts. In full disclosure, festival organizers provided us with free VIP tickets.

What I liked:

New Venue: The Leftbank Annex is a beautiful venue. There were lots of tables and plenty of room to spread out. The 1st floor even had a large lounge with big comfy couches (suitable for napping). The location is ultra convenient. It's just a ~5 minute walk from the Rose Quarter Transit Center. Yep, no need to drive! Leftbank Annex is a winner, and I hope Cider Rite of Spring returns to it next year. I'd love to see more beer events here as well.

The Leftbank Annex

The Great Room around 1pm

Comfy lounge in the Club Room

Event Layout:  The festival was spread out over two floors, with the VIP Lounge on a 3rd level balcony. The event program contained a map, so it was very easy to find any given cider maker. The fact that they were arranged in alphabetical order made it event easier.

Delicious Snacks:  Throughout the entire event, Whole Foods stocked a table with a delicious selection of cheese, dried fruits, nuts, crackers, and even a summer sausage from Olympia Provisions. This was available gratis to all attendees.

Great cider pairing snacks from Whole Foods!

Food Trucks:  Pizza and taco trucks were onsite, directly within the back lot of the venue. 

Meet the Makers / Short Serving Lines:  At this festival, the cider makers pour their own ciders. It's fair to say cider geeks attend this event, so most seemed to ask about the cider selections. Even so, lines were never more than 3-5 people deep, and wait times (if any) were very reasonable.

A rep from Wildcraft Cider chats it up

VIP Lounge:  In the upstairs balcony, Square Mile offered free pours of three ciders during the entirety of the event.  In addition, four other cider makers offered free samples during the course of the afternoon. Whole Foods stocked another snack table in the lounge. VIP ticket holders were allowed to enter and begin tasting at noon, an hour before normal entry.

The VIP Room free tasting schedule

View from the VIP Room at 1pm

Snacks from the VIP Room

Cider:  30ish cider makers served up over 100 ciders. Whether you like your cider syrupy sweet (not me), bone dry, or anything in between, there was something for everyone. I had two favorites for the day... Snowdrift Cider's Red Cider is made from red flesh apples. Carton Cyderworks' Summer Set, made with crab apples, heirloom apples, and Fresh bittersweets, is wild fermented and wonderfully balanced. Both were slightly acidic and delicious!

Quince cider from Art + Science

A few bottles from Woodbox Cider Co.

Strawberry & Pear ciders from 1859 Cider Co.

Improvements to Consider:

Water Stations:  OK, I'm really stretching here, but I need to offer some constructive feedback. Water was provided, but the containers were small, and sometimes ran out. There were several, so it wasn't a big deal. There's always room to improve, right?

Did you attend Cider Rite of Spring? How was your experience? For details about more cider and beer events, check out the Oregon Beer Event Calendar.

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Near the peak, there was still plenty of room to stretch out!

Home Hop Garden '17: The Harvest

This post is six months late! Throughout last spring and summer, I dutifully blogged about my home hop garden. But I never wrote about the most exciting partthe harvest. Until now, anyway. Better late then never!

Overall, 2017 was a great hop growing season at my estatesideyard, I should say. I planted several new varieties (Cascade, Columbus, Mt. Hood, Sterling, and Zeus). All of the first year rhizomes grew quite tall and even produced cones. My second year Chinook really came into its own this year! Here's my final output of dried hops:

  • Cascade: 4.6 oz.
  • Centennial: 3.6 oz.
  • Chinook: 9.8 oz.
  • Blend of Sterling, Mt. Hood, Columbus: 3.7 oz.
  • Zeus: 5.5 oz.

I'm extremely disappointed to report that my oldest plant, a three-year old Willamette produced one cone. Yes, one measly, well-formed cone. I'm hoping it's a late bloomer. If it doesn't produce in 2018, it's a goner.

Overall, it was a fun growing season! I even brewed my first wet hop IPA. I did have some leaf rot issues on 2-3 of my plants. I'll keep a close eye on that this year. Anyway, for a look back at my 2017 growing season, click the links below.

Diseased hop plants

I don't plan to add any new varieties this year, as I'm running out of space. On the plus side, I've got some fairly mature plants so I hope the 2018 season will be fruitfulor is it hopfull?

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