Friday, May 18, 2012

A comeback for cider?

Photo credit: WSU NWREC
With the state’s wine industry booming and microbreweries thick on the ground in the Pacific Northwest, opportunity-seeking farmers in Washington are excited about the potential of a different fermented alcoholic beverage: hard apple cider.

The non-profit Northwest Agriculture Business Center and the Washington State University Northwest Washington Research and Extension Center – both in Mount Vernon – are jointly sponsoring one-day workshops in June and July for entrepreneurs interested in growing apples for cider and in producing cider. More intensive week-long courses in those months are sold out.

Hard cider is the fastest growing component of the alcoholic beverage industry. Washington clearly is fertile land for apple orchards – the state is by far the No. 1 producer in the nation – but the Red Delicious, Gala, Honeycrisp and other eat-fresh varieties that make up so much of the crop aren’t really well-suited to making cider. Traditional cider varieties include Dabinett, Chisel Jersey, Kingston Black and Brown Snout.

The WSU extension service in Mount Vernon is conducting research into the best varieties for cider production in Washington, and you can read more about that by clicking here.

Cider is cherished and made with care in traditional producing areas in England, France and other countries. For 18th-century American colonists in New England, it was the drink of choice. Changing patterns of immigration and settlement, as well as technological advances, led to the rise of beer to dominance in the U.S. in the 19th century.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.