Hard cider is the new craft ale at six places in Oregon
Pink-tinged blossoms gracing apple orchards this spring are harbingers of an equally colorful delight: cider. Turning tart apples into hard cider is a venerable European tradition undergoing a renaissance in the Pacific Northwest. Fermentation yields spritzy beverages—usually 3 to 6.5 percent alcohol—akin to craft ales.
- In Milton-Freewater, Ore., Blue Mountain Cider Company produces eight ciders topped off with a splash of fresh apple or other fruit juice. Among them are the crisp Dry Creek and the semisweet Farmstead, available for tasting in the restored historic Watermill Building. (541) 938-5575, drinkcider.com .
- Portland’s new Bushwhacker Cider claims to be one of the nation’s first cider bars; patrons choose among 85 varieties (six on tap) in a converted industrial space softened by a lush orchard mural. (503) 445-0577, bushwhackercider.com .
- Merridale Estate Cidery, the oldest and most prominent cider works in the Northwest, makes eight varieties, including Cyser (sherrylike and honeyed) and Scrumpy (Scotchlike and sharp). Merridale, on Vancouver Island, B.C., also boasts a heritage apple orchard, a renowned bistro, a contemporary tasting room, an apple brandy house, and a spa. (800) 998-9908, merridalecider.com .
- Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, Ore., uses organically grown heirloom apples for its most complex ciders, among them the tropical-scented Bloom and spicy Wanderlust. A tasting room is open by appointment. (503) 361-2400, wanderingaengus.com .
- Finnriver, an organic farm, produces a champagne-style Artisan Sparkling Cider and a delicate Perry (sparkling pear cider), among others. Sip and sample in a rustic barn in the pastoral Chimacum Valley of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. (360) 732-4337, finnriver.com .
- Tieton Cider Works crafts five ciders—from crisp Tieton Blend to sweet Blossom Nectar—using 40 varieties of organic apples grown in Washington’s Yakima Valley. Tasting at the cidery is by appointment. (509) 673-2880, tietonciderworks.com .
Photography by Robbie McClaran 
This article was first published in March 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.