Crisp weather calls for crisp bevvies — and nothing says fall in the Pacific Northwest quite like juicy apples handcrafted into hard cider.
Washington’s unofficial craft cider movement has really ripened in the last decade. With an abundance of fresh local apple orchards and fruit in the state, one needn’t travel far to find perfectly flavorful blends. From its eastern edge to the Olympic Peninsula and everywhere in between, the region has made a name for itself as a standout creator of quality hard ciders.
Whether it’s traditional, heirloom, bittersweet, or sweet — or, more uncommonly, bitter-sharp or sharp — there is a cider for every palate waiting to be discovered. Combine apples with subtle hints of cherry, or locally sourced Northwest berries, and what could be more enticing than a day trip this fall to warm up and sample the cideries in the area?
You also will find a variety of PNW hard ciders available at local restaurants, taprooms, and retail stores. Here are a few juicy picks.
Nashi Orchards offers award-winning perry and ciders made from Asian and European pears and heirloom. It only takes a short ferry ride to Vashon Island to visit. The fruits are estate-grown, handpicked, and pressed on an ecologically salmon-safe 27-acre orchard.
Try yearly fall favorite Island Harvest — reminiscent of a sauvignon blanc, light and crisp, with a punchy acidity. Sugars, juice, and sweeteners are not needed.
It is open 12–5 p.m. on weekends, or by appointment. Products are also available at many specialty shops and restaurants on Vashon and in the Seattle area.
Winsome Ciderworks of Woodinville offers up their modern cider with a bright and clean blend of citrus and pear flavors in their Asian pear cider, which has become their flagship creation. The former winemakers shifted to cidermaking in 2015, and have since built their name on ciders that make use of the bountiful fruit produced in the Eastern Washington region.
Although the tasting room is closed due to COVID-19 concerns, you can find this delightfully delicate libation at retail outlets like Haggen, Total Wine & More, and Fred Meyer, along with many area bars and restaurants. Pop open a can and enjoy the refreshing vibe. Check the website for reopening dates and future events to sample one of eight seasonal or regular growler offerings.
Incline Cider Company
Incline Cider Company is a family-owned cidery operating in Auburn since 2015. In 2019, they opened the Incline Cider House in Tacoma. The traditional-style bar allows a true cider experience by offering 16 tap handles of eight to 10 of Incline’s own ciders, and additional rotating Washington and Northwest ciders.
Always using fresh-pressed Yakima fruit and wholesome ingredients, a popular favorite is blood orange. It is citrusy and bold and part of the year-round lineup. Stop by and pair it with a charcuterie board or fresh hot pretzel from Rhein Haus next door. Available for purchase online or at taprooms and retailers.
Cockrell Hard Ciders
Cockrell Hard Ciders in Puyallup offers a true “farm to glass” bittersweet and traditional American heirloom cider experience. Brothers Rich and John Cockrell have been crafting cider for the past 30 years. With 2,600 apple trees on their farm, the Cockrells harvest 50 tons of apples each year.
Stop by their tasting room ‘The Roost’ to sample favorites like Valley raspberry or blackberry. Sit outside on their large patio area featuring plenty of socially distanced seating, and rotating food trucks. You can buy their ciders at Total Wines & More or local tap and cider houses like Seattle’s Schillings Cider House.
Core Hero Cider
Core Hero Cider, based in Edmonds, has been crafting heritage hard cider for over 20 years. Grown at its Lopez Island orchards, you will find unique apple varieties that you won’t find at a store, like Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, Foxwhelp, and Golden Russet. During autumn, Apple Cinnamon is an especially popular choice: crisp flavor with just the right amount of spice to warm up a chilly fall day. Besides farmers markets and local events, you can buy it at select Whole Foods, QFC, and Blossom Grocery on Lopez Island. Check its website for additional buying options.