WEEKEND: Saturday celebration in Port Townsend focuses on hard cider
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Andrew Byers, production manager at Finnriver Farm and Cidery of Chimacum, taps a sample of apple blueberry cider. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The North Olympic Peninsula is the right place to celebrate cider.

“We are Washington state. This is apple country, which means the climate is right, and there’s a history that ties people very closely to apple production,” said Andrew Byers, production manager at Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum.

“The Peninsula is a good place for cider because we have crafty people and good trees,” Byers added.

Three Peninsula cider makers — Alpenfire and Eaglemount of Port Townsend and Finnriver — are participating in Saturday’s fourth annual Summer Cider Day.

Twenty-one Pacific Northwest cider makers will offer tastes of 70 varieties from noon to 5 p.m. at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St. in Port Townsend.

Admission is $25 per person in advance or $30 at the door.

The admission price includes 10 tasting tickets and a keepsake Northwest Cider Association glass.

Ticket prices for attendees younger than 21 or for designated drivers are $5 at the door; these tickets do not include tasting tickets or a keepsake glass.

Advance tickets are available at www.brownpapertickets.com.

Cider has undergone a renaissance in recent years, Byers said.

The popularity has prompted major corporate breweries to release their own high-volume consumer products.

These are “marketable, shelf-stable and delicious to drink,” Byers said, but he feels they lack the quality and craftsmanship of locally produced cider.

“There is a perceptible difference in the crafted model and a certain incentive to buy local product,” he said.

“Cider will soon come into its own,” he added, saying it is “something that can be poured into wine glasses and served as an amazing beverage that is quite delicious.”

Byers said the craft beer movement “has played its hand, and there’s not a lot of newness in that direction.

“There is a growing middle class of drinkers who are not sophisticated wine snobs nor are they beer geeks, and you have this niche that is being pushed very hard by the cider industry and the consumers.”

The Summer Cider Day “helps to bring a regional brand to the Olympic Peninsula as a destination point for high-quality cider, which for our economy and our community is a positive thing,” Byers added.

“We can team up with other companies like [craft beer producer] Propolis Brewing or Hamma Hamma oysters.

“We end up with oysters and cider and craft brewing to create this brand.”

Byers is looking forward to the day for another reason: It will provide a chance to share some collegial competition.

“The reason I’m working the event is so I can see my friends from some of the other cideries,” he said.

“When I talk to other producers and cider makers that are there, it helps to maintain a strong, cohesive industry.

“This niche is huge, and we have only begun to tap the market.”

He said all cider makers are working to further the industry.

“There is no true competition going on right now,” Byers said. “Any competition is in our own minds.”

For more information, visit www.nwcider.com.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 07. 2014 6:12PM
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