I know what you’re thinking… a post about ciders on American Craft Beer? What’s the world coming to?!
I get it. I don’t generally drink ciders. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that I might try one cider for every 50 beers I try, which even then might be generous. Yet there’s something to be said about a cidery that’s heart beats the blood of a craft beer lover – founded by someone who’s driven by the same experimental passion that has pushed the craft beer movement into the outer reaches of perception.
And that man is Nat West. Technically an ordained minister who’s more an evangelist of the apple than the holy spirit.
He’s also the founder of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and his creations are not your everyday offerings. During a recent visit I first sampled Sacrilege – a sour cherry cider made with Granny Smith apples, featuring Montmorency and Morello sour cherries, English Ale Yeast, and topped off with a subtle hint of Ghost Peppers, which offer a slow burning, yet delightful balance. And while you can find Sacrilege in bottles, his taproom also features one-off experimental ciders, such as the small-batch Holiday Root. A cider blend supplemented by fall spices and chicken stock? Yes… and it was the best thing I had all night.
All this was experienced earlier this week while visiting their Northeast Portland taproom – a beautiful space, backed by a disparate labyrinth of rooms that enable just enough workspace to store, pipe, forklift, barrel-age and package a wider variety of ciders than you’ll find anywhere else. From their Cascadia Ciderworkers United label – think sessionable ciders available in 16oz cans, to their taproom-only releases that may only last a few days, to their more commonly bottled seasonals and flagships, each style offers it’s own unique take on what a cider can be.
Nat embarked upon his journey 13 years ago by experimenting with the excessive production from a neighbor’s apple tree, then initiated a successful Kickstarter campaign four years ago which enabled the opening of the taproom. In time his passion has emerged as the most respected cidery in a town that’s arguably the craft beer capital of the world, making it clear that this venture is destined for even greater success. In fact, Rev Nat’s is readying to triple production as they move into a 21,000 sq ft facility early next year.
What truly makes this an appealing endeavor, even to wine aficionados or beer snobs, is the synergy of what appeals to both in one bottle. Take their flagship Hallelujah Hopricot as an example. It’s described as a “Belgian wit-style cider steeped with coriander, bitter orange peel and paradise grains, fermented with a Belgian saison ale yeast.” Not to mention the “pure apricot juice” and “Oregon grown Cascade and Amarillo hops” that finish off a truly unique Pacific Northwest cider.
I could go on about everything else they offer like the ever-mixable Padre Nat’s ¡Tepache! – a low alcohol pineapple nectar that’s phenomenal on it’s own, yet has also been featured in collaboration blends with prominent craft brewers including de Garde, Phantom Carriage, Barley Browns and others. Or the Strawberry Pippin, a one-off strawberry apple beer made with Cascade Brewing that was perhaps one of the finest things to ever hit my lips. There really isn’t much Nat or his creations can’t do.
If you haven’t sought out Nat’s ciders just yet, check out his online store to get your hands on that which you may not have access to locally. Better yet, the next time you’re in Portland, be sure to seek out the wondrous liquid Reverend Nat proslytizes. While it’s amazing by the bottle, it’s even better live, in person, coming from the blessed font of the Reverend himself.