Why should you clear some space in your busy September calendar for the eighth annual Washington Cider Week? For one thing, because you love a local food scene and you know there are no finer people to have a cider with than those who are involved in growing and producing the beverage that represents our homegrown agricultural economy. But we’re a bit bias around here when it comes to that.
This year, for the first time, attendees of the 11-day-long festival of cider on Sept. 6-16 can discover Northwest producers who have been practicing the ancient technique of keeving – a production method that originated in northwestern France and yields a cider that is sweetened by unfermented apple sugars without any additional added sweetener. Up until now, keeved products have been rare in the United States but after a recent trip to France, several Northwest cidermakers are picking up the difficult task and Cider Week patrons will have the privilege of familiarizing themselves with an iconic category within cider. Read more about the somewhat mysterious craft of keeving here.
Liberty Ciderworks, Tieton Ciderworks, 2 Towns Ciderhouse and other award-winning cider companies will be pouring keeved ciders at select events this year, while Northwest Cider Association is helping to organize a Grand Tasting event. “This is the first time our cidermakers are releasing a special and difficult-to-make, old-world style of cider,” says Emily Ritchie, executive director of the association. “Think French-style ciders with full, round bodies and a bit of magic. We will highlight several locally keeved ciders in the first-ever industry preview of these bottles.”
What can cider tasters expect from a keeved cider? Co-owner/cidermaker Marcus Robert of Tieton says his sparkling perry is a good example of the technique’s results. “It has a good amount of acid balanced by natural sweetness from the keeving process,” he details. “The wild yeast that produced the fermentation added deep honey and strawberry characteristics as well as a rounded mouthfeel.”
WHAT’S NOT TO MISS
The early harvest festivals thrive during Washington Cider Week, and events will be happening throughout the state from tap-takeovers to dinners, special releases, brewery collaborations and more. If you’ve got some youthful, untapped creativity, Capitol Cider and Gage Academy are teaming up to present Drink & Draw, featuring live models, cider props, charcoal nubs and a guided tasting of heritage Washington cider brands on Thursday, Sept. 13. City Fruit, a non-profit organization that collects over 40 varieties of apples from otherwise unused urban trees, has once again collaborated with Seattle Cider Co. for its annual release from these metropolitan-grown apples on Saturday, Sept. 15.
The ninth annual Cider Summit returns during this week on Friday, Sept. 7 and Saturday, Sept. 8 — this year bringing over 150 different ciders to downtown Seattle for only $35. Also on Sept. 8, WSU is hosting a guided sensory evaluation of Washington ciders at the Everett Yacht Club, offering pricing with tasting samples ($30) and without ($10).
Click here for the full line-up of Washington Cider Week events and be sure to check in throughout the month as more events fill up the calendar.