Nat West is a whore for apples. He’s the first to admit it: “I never say no to apples,” he says. Indeed, at his cavernous Northeast Portland cidery and taproom, the 36-year-old Virginia native will go through nearly 200 million apples this year—all part of his mission to realize “the apple’s deepest purpose.”
That mission began a decade ago with a prolific apple tree in a friend’s yard. West’s casual experiments with the surplus fruit quickly evolved from pies to butters to cider. By 2010, 500 gallons of homemade cider stood in his Northeast Portland basement and garage. The decision to quit his job as a programmer and launch a cidery was easy—and growth has been swift, thanks to rabid converts, Kickstarter funding, and an endless supply of apples from Eastern Washington. Reverend Nat’s now holds about 20,000 gallons of cider in inventory, distributes across the Northwest, and has launched a canned “everyday cider” called Cascadia as it eyes another space for expansion. “I could sell twice as much cider tomorrow if I had it,” West says.
West’s experimental approach is a boon to beer and wine fans. The off-dry Hallelujah Hopricot, a Belgian wit–style cider, flaunts flavors of coriander, orange peel, and apricot juice, plus a slightly hoppy finish. It drinks like a mutant blend of beer, wine, and cider. For a lovely balance of acid, tannins, and apple essence, the flagship Revival Dry is hard to beat. In October, the seasonal Providence Traditional New England will resurface—a spicy colonial recipe fermented with raisins, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This is cider as a warm hug. One glass, and you’re apt to join the congregation.