Willamette Valley Cider Roundup: Beer’s Eccentric Step-Uncle

In recent times, the United States has experienced an explosion of microbreweries, especially in the Pacific Northwest and even more specifically in Oregon. Portland holds the current title for most breweries per capita of any city in the entire country! Most of us take great pride in such a thing. Perfectly suited to our general demographic, beer has become the national beverage that most effectively brings together a bizarre diversity of folks, ranging from extreme nerds to hipsters, frat boys, farmers, and armchair liberals. Wow, right? Humankind putting aside their differences and joining hands over one of the most ancient and unifying craft traditions.

Cider, beer’s eccentric step-uncle, is also on the scene in full force. A delicious alternative to everything from beer to wine to that purple stuff from the Sunny Delight commercials, cider boasts a strong presence in the state, is largely gluten-free, and even sports non-alcoholic incarnations that don’t taste like crap—something beer cries itself to sleep over every night. That, and cider is mostly made from apples, and everyone likes apples. This includes celebrities such as Isaac Newton, Eve, teachers in general, and even William Tell. With autumn lazing about and all of that harvest-y stuff going on, this is a perfect time to get acquainted with our local offerings.

In search of the great locally available Oregonian ciders, you’d do well to make the rounds at our very own Saturday Market, where you’ll be met with frothy jugs of opaque organic cider from local farmers such as La Mancha (Sweet Home), First Fruit Farms (Corvallis), and Heavenly Harvest (also Corvallis). Their offerings include the child-friendly type, so be sure to break out the tandem if you’d like to infuse your offspring with the liquid fruits of local labor. If you live in one of the Corvallis groupie provinces, you also have the option of stopping by the landmark Jim’s Fruit Stand on Highway 34 just outside of downtown Corvallis.

If you’re in the mood for something boozier, you can stop by either of our illustrious cooperative markets to drop some coin on any number of Wandering Aengus Ciders. Not only does this brand harvest from all over Oregon, ranging from the banks of the Hood River to Lebanon, but their product line is fairly vast, consisting of over 20 varieties of soothing liquid gold. My personal favorite, their Anthem Pear cider, is affordable and within purchasing range of any and all Corvallis Advocate ninja staff meetings. Other Oregonian brands are present around town as well, including Traditions Ciderworks, which could body-slam my wimpy wallet, but is absolutely worth every last penny, or the guaranteed-to-please 2 Towns Ciderhouse on Highway 34. 2 Towns recently gained some great new digs and their own personal tasting room.

Honestly, if after all of this you’re not considering adding your patronage to the local farmers contributing to this great fall tradition, something might be wrong with you. And despite how great of an opportunity this is, I refuse to leave you with the adage that ends in, “keeps the doctors away.”

by Johnny Beaver

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