Hard cider’s having its moment here in a state long known for its apples.
What took so long?
“It’s kind of gone in stages, hasn’t it?” said Jared Fraychineaud, whose Tilted Tree Cidery started bottling this month in Tacoma. “Washington started with wine and people started demanding higher quality wine. As time has moved on, people have demanded better beer, and now people are demanding better ciders.”
He added, “There’s so much growth with cider now. I was able to get in on the front running with that.”
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Since about 2007, more than a half dozen hard cideries have opened from Olympia to Vashon and Puyallup to Port Townsend, and that trend has duplicated statewide with dozens of cidery openings in recent years (more than 30 and counting). Tilted Tree is the first cidery in Tacoma.
Today’s craft cider isn’t that sweet grocery store stuff you go to great lengths to avoid while fishing around a communal cooler at a deck party. Today’s are made with heirloom apples or long forgotten fruits, such as quince. Flavors range from spicy to floral, from sour to oaky. Some cider is even hopped (more proof that we Pacific Northwesterners love our brew).
Fraychineaud’s cidery features Washington-sourced apples grown on a Naches farm belonging to the family of his wife, Sara Fraychineaud. The Mortimer Farm, as the family calls it, grows a wide range of dessert apples — Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Gala and Honeycrisps — and the cider apple Manchurian.
Fraychineaud calls his cider a classic “American style hard cider.”
Like so many cideries across the state, he’s experimenting with Washington fruits beyond apples. His debut cider, L&L Dueling Cherry, contains a blend of Rainier and Bing cherries.
He started bottling in early August and recently stocked his cider on shelves at Tacoma beer stores Pint Defiance and Copper Door, and grocery store Harbor Greens. It’s also on tap at Narrows Brewing, where Fraychineaud currently works as a part-time brewer and bottler. In fact, that’s where he honed his brewing skills and it was a natural progression to try cider, which Fraychineaud calls more nuanced than beer brewing.
For now, he’ll keep his part-time brewing gig and his day job as an emergency room technician at Valley Medical Center in Renton, and wife Sara will keep her job working as a server at Tacoma’s Lobster Shop. However, they hope someday to open a Tilted Tree restaurant and cidery. For now, they make their cider 100 gallons at a time in their 400-square-foot Tacoma garage.
They plan to debut two ciders at the second Cider Swig, a regional cider event to be held Sept. 26 in Gig Harbor. They’ll serve their classic American cider, as well as a hopped cider featuring citra and amarillo hops. Later this season, Fraychineaud plans to experiment with a habanero peach cider and an aged cider using bourbon barrels from Gig Harbor’s Heritage Distilling Co.
Watch for the cidery on tap throughout the Tacoma area, and in more stores, too.
SOUTH SOUND CIDERIES
Tacoma: Tilted Tree Cidery opened this year in Tacoma. Find it in 22-ounce bottles at Pint Defiance, Copper Door and Harbor Greens Market. Find it on tap at Narrows Brewing. Visit tinyurl.com/nersmeh.
Puyallup: Cockrell Hard Ciders opened in 2014 and can be toured by appointment only. Contact cockrellbrewing.com.
Olympia: David White started Whitewood Cider in 2011. Tours by appointment only. Contact whitewoodcider.com. There’s also Spire Mountain Cider, owned by Fish Brewing in Olympia. Contact spiremountaincider.com.
Peninsula: From Chimacum to Port Townsend, find Alpenfire Cider, Eaglemount Wine and Cider and Finnriver Cidery. Find addresses at nwcider.com.
The second Cider Swig will feature 21 regional cideries and 70 ciders, from noon-5 p.m. Sept. 26 at Sehmel Homestead Park, Gig Harbor; 253-514-6338 or gigharborfoundation.org/cider-swig. Tickets $18-$35.