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Cider Riot!’s Abram Goldman-Armstrong and Buick on How to Go Cider Tasting in Portland

We pick the spots and provide the tips for a superb daylong cider experience.

Presented by November 17, 2015

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 Abram Goldman-Armstrong made his first cider in his dorm room at Macalester College using apples “scrumped” (filched) from the dining hall and pressed using a cheese greater and two plates twenty years ago, and has been making cider ever since. So suffice it to say he knows his stuff and is committed to his craft.

Which is why Buick turned to him as an authority for all things cider in the region.

In Portland, we’re blessed with no shortage of local craft brew options, so it follows that there is also an abundance of local craft cider. “Cider and beer play well together,” said Goldman-Armstrong. “They are both pub drinks, so it’s only fitting that places with a strong craft beer scene embrace craft cider as well.”

That said, the cider making process is actually more like winemaking in nature, with apples fermenting in place of grapes. The apples are ground to a pulp, called a pomace, pressed, and yeast is added to the resulting juice, which is left to mature before being bottled, canned, or put in a keg or cask.

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And like wine, cider pairs best with cheese. A pro pairing from local sources that Goldman-Armstrong recommends is Cider Riot!’s 1763 Revolutionary West Country Cider paired with Cascadia Creamery Glacier Blue.

 Goldman-Armstrong recently led a tour of local food writers to a variety of Portland cideries to get them better acquainted with the process and the finished product. And if you’re interested in sampling Portland’s finest, you can designate a driver just like we did courtesy of Buick chauffeurs, and replicate the trip:

The Gorge White House: A picturesque setting for a first tasting stop, the Gorge White House produces a line of ciders and perries from fruit grown onsite, including a well-balanced cherry cider with tartness and tannins supplied by the cherries. All ciders are draft only and retain full-flavored character because they are not pasteurized.

Fox-Tail Cider: An on-farm cidery, Foxtail produces dry ciders from their own apples. The tasting room looks into the gleaming stainless steel of the production facility where cidermaker Justin Cardwell, who grew up in the area, plies his craft.

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Portland Cider Company: Portland Cider’s Hawthorne taphouse showcases their own lineup of ciders along with some of the best from around the region. From London Dry Gin to Passionfruit cider to the Crooked Cock Scrumpy (served from an oak barrel), Portland Cider has a diverse lineup, and their ciderhouse fits well in the Hawthorne neighborhood.

Bushwacker Cider: Jeff and Erin Smith opened the first cider pub in North America at their original Powell location. Their second location is love-of-cider refined. With its full kitchen and a well-curated bottle selection, it is the perfect venue for a beautiful cider-pairing dinner.

We took our tour in a chauffeured fleet of Buick vehicles, including the Buick Regal GS, Lacrosse , Encore and Enclave. Guests enjoyed features including the built-in OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Buick’s “QuietTuning” engineering process, which blocks and absorbs unwanted outside noise.

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Lining up your itinerary is just half the experience, of course. You have to know what to taste for.

“Cider tasting is complex,” said Goldman-Armstrong, “but the short answer is look beyond the apple. Does wine taste of grapes? Look for those nuances in your cider glass, and even the simplest cider made from dessert apples will reveal a depth of flavor you may have missed.”

 And the nuances to pay attention to will also be familiar to anyone who’s done a wine tasting before.

  • Mind the appearance (How clear is the cider? How carbonated is it?);
  • the aroma (Can you smell the apple, or do other flavors come to mind?);
  • the taste (Is it sweet or bitter or tart? What is the mouthfeel?);
  • and the finish (Does it linger or does it quench?). 

You can learn more about Goldman-Armstrong’s own Cider Riot! here and take a look at the best cider pairing of all, the Buick lineup (plus a designated driver). Follow Buick on Instagram and Twitter.