Portland International Cider Cup awards & roundup (Oregon Cider Week)

Portland International Cider Cup logo

Last Thursday evening, June 15, the awards party for the fifth annual Portland International Cider Cup (PICC) took place at Portland Cider Company’s Clackamas taproom. It was a premier event to help kick off Oregon Cider Week, organized by the Northwest Cider Association, and represented the best ciders in the Pacific Northwest—including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia.

It was ostensibly an industry-only event and I got a media pass to attend. Normally, being in Bend, I’m not able to make it to such events that take place three-plus hours away, but as luck would have it we were able to make it work in conjunction with another weekend trip, so my wife and I made it to the party.

The awards party began at 6:30pm, hosted at the Portland Cider Company taproom and production facility. I had no idea that Portland Cider was producing cider at the scale they are at, but it’s impressive. The party took place in their warehouse space and in addition to seating and screen and projector, they were pouring pints (for purchase) from a number of NW Cider members and had a full spread of food out for guests as well.

When it comes to the local cider industry, this is a group that is passionate about cider making but is also relatively young, less than two decades old for the most part. It’s fascinating to get a glimpse into a blooming industry and an event like the PICC strikes me as an important step in recognizing the members of the community as well as the quality of products coming out of the Pacific Northwest.

They take this quality very seriously. Several times there was mention of how they (the northwest cidermakers as a whole) don’t use sugar and similar fortifying or artificial ingredients like certain East Coast ciders.

At any rate, to the awards. The Cider Association judges in the following categories:

  • Modern Dry
  • Modern Sweet
  • Heritage Dry
  • Heritage Sweet
  • English Dry
  • English Sweet
  • French
  • Hopped
  • Wild/Non-Sac
  • Spiced/Herbed
  • Wood/Oaked
  • Fruit
  • Specialty
  • Modern Perry

As well as recognizing cideries of the year, best in show, and so on. There were 166 ciders entered from some 40 regional cideries (which did not have to be members of the Cider Association), and judging took place back on April 9 at Square Mile Cider with 45 industry judges. I made running notes of the winners as they were announced, and they are also listed on the NW Cider website here.

Here are the winners (in order as they were announced):

Modern Dry

Modern Sweet

  • Bronze: Portland Cider Company, Apple (Portland, OR)
  • Silver: Alter Ego Cider, The Brute (Portland, OR)
  • Gold: None awarded

Heritage Dry

Heritage Sweet

  • Bronze: None awarded
  • Silver: Montana CiderWorks, Darby Pub Cider (Sula, MT)
  • Gold: None awarded

English Dry

  • Bronze: Liberty Ciderworks, Porter’s Perfection SV
  • Silver: Alpenfire Cider, Pirate’s Plank (Port Townsend, WA)
  • Gold: None awarded

English Sweet

  • Bronze: Tieton Cider Works, Wild Washington (Yakima, WA)
  • Silver: None awarded
  • Gold: Montana CiderWorks, North Fork Traditional

French

  • Bronze: WildCraft Cider Works, Spring Traditional Keeved (Eugene, OR)
  • Silver: None awarded
  • Gold: None awarded

Hopped

Wild/Non-Sac

  • Bronze: None awarded
  • Silver: 2 Towns Ciderhouse, La Mure
  • Gold: None awarded

Spiced/Herbed

  • Bronze: La Familia Cider, Jamaica – Hibiscus (Salem, OR)
  • Silver: Wards Hard Cider, Wards Ginger Apple Cider (Kelowna, BC)
  • Gold: Square Mile Cider Company, Ginger Pear Apple Cider

Wood/Oaked

Fruit

  • Bronze: 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Prickle Me Pink
  • Silver: Bauman’s Cider, Peach Raspberry (Gervais, OR)
  • Gold: 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Flight Of The Kiwi

Specialty

  • Bronze: 2 Towns Ciderhouse, 6th Anniversary
  • Silver: None awarded
  • Gold: None awarded

Modern Perry

  • Bronze: Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Perry
  • Silver: Tieton Cider Works, Perry
  • Gold: EdenVale Winery, Eden Valley Orchards Pear House Cider (Medford, OR)

Small Cidery of the Year – Montana CiderWorks

Large Cidery of the Year – 2 Towns Ciderhouse

Best Dressed – Scott Katsma of Seattle Cider

Best New Cidery of the Year – Western Cider Company, Missoula, Montana

Best of Show Runner Up – Montana CiderWorks, North Fork Traditional

Best of Show – Western Cider Company, McIntosh

The big medal winner was 2 Towns Ciderhouse with six, a terrific showing. And yes, note the “None awarded” slots in several of the categories; the judges take this competition seriously and won’t award a medal if they feel it’s not warranted.

All in all, it was a fun night and an enlightening event to see the northwest’s cideries come together with these awards. It would be interesting to see if this expands in future years into wider regions, or ultimately becomes nationwide like beer’s GABF and similar; but for now, they are focusing on the Northwest.

Congratulations to all the winners! I tried a couple of the winning ciders, the Fresh Apple from North Idaho and the Peach Oak from Swift, and I quite liked them. I’m looking forward to seeking out more ciders from these and others in the region.

Finally, here’s a gallery of images we snapped that night: