In my past position as a wine and beer steward, I have seen first hand the growing popularity of hard ciders. The variety in styles and producers is quite large. I am the first to admit I am a novice. So when I faced the daunting task of learning about ciders, I went to what I consider the obvious choice– Bushwhacker Cider Bar.
Located in SE Portland, Bushwhacker is the first cider bar of its kind in the country. They offer 8 ciders on tap and over 300 in bottles from all over the US and Europe. So I headed over there to try a sampler tray and gain some knowledge. Here’s the result of my trip:
Bushwhacker sampler: 8 samples of their 8 taps cost $13. The taps rotate so this list is already outdated but it’s still fun to try them all.
Crispin Blackberry Pear: This cider was sweet, had a reddish color, very berry nose, and a candied taste.
Sanford Yarlington Mill: Lovely gold color, very dry but with a tight finish and an unfortunate soapy after taste.
Virtue Cider Ledbury: Had deep gold color but with thin body and no finish. Flavor over all was sour and soapy.
Blue Mountain Cherry: Very nice deep red color, a sweet mid palate with medium body. Once it warmed up, I noticed a touch of candied cinnamon in the finish.
Bushwhacker Cider Blackberry: This one was different in that it had a cloudy, pink watermelon color. It smelled like a rosé wine. Very sweet with a soapy finish.
Woodchuck Granny Smith: Not a barn burner. Had medium gold color, was light bodied but with a nice touch of sweetness on the finish.
Cider Riot- Never Give an Inch Blackberry: This selection had a pretty red color with big fruit on the nose. Unfortunately it had very little body and barely any finish to speak of.
Blue Mountain Eden Ridge: It was clear, almost colorless, tart with a nice sweetness and finish.
Carlton Slake: This was the first glass out of a new keg so it was not as cold as the others. It suffered in comparison. It had a light gold color but no nose. It tasted tart with a touch of soap.
First impressions are that I like the ‘red’ ones the best. Surprisingly they are sweeter which is not a style I usually gravitate to. I found a lot of soapy flavors in these- I don’t know if that is a flavor profile of cider or from the types of apples. Maybe it’s just my palate. But I intend to learn more so perhaps my answer awaits me.
The bar itself is comfortable and the service is very good. The bottle selection is huge and offers choices from various parts of the world. The patio is nice and surprisingly not drowning in noise pollution despite being practically on Powell Blvd. Beer and mead are also available.
My cider research is still ongoing and I know that Bushwhacker will be a valued resource in my search to learn more about this beverage.