19 beers of the 19-day #covid_19 ‘antine: Won’t You Take Me To

I’m shit with names. Faces, too. But I’m usually elephant-like when it comes to beers. Not just if I’ve had it, but how much I liked it, where I got it, if my son was with me or not. But this bottle? I have no freaking idea how it came to exist in my beer fridge! But I know this: I’m glad it did.

By the time I’d reached for a fourth bottle out of the beer fridge, I needed something diametrically counter to the big-booze, big-barrel, big-malt bombs of the eves before. For starters, it’s a cider. For secondly, it was bottled in 2016, not nearly a decade old. For thirdsies, instead of something syrupy sweet like many modern ciders are, it was billed by its maker, Reverend Nat’s, I asked of its contents, won’t you take me to a different place than nights past? Won’t you take me to… Fuzzytown?

The funky Fuzzytown is an imperial sour cider aged in red wine barrels with kiwi and Mosaic hops. If that sounds like a mouthful, it’s twice as true literally as it is figuratively/nominally. The serious acid lets you know from the get-go that this is no SOS cider. It’s exceptionally bright, and the combo of the sourness and the carbonation presents like Pop Rocks merged with Warheads. But this is no kiddy cider; it’s like a complex cocktail from outer space. Those 122 pounds of fresh kiwi fruit ride high, followed by those hops that hit like 122 pounds of fresh mango.

As much as I lean toward classic cider styles of older countries (and autonomous regions in the Fresh-Spanish Pyrenees), Rev Nat’s ciders are always an exhilarating ride straddling the future and the now of cidermaking. They never do what I feel most flavored ciders do which is hide from the fact that it’s supposed to still taste like apples. And this being made with Newtown Pippins, a favorite of the supermarket eater varieties that still serves cidermakers well, this one made me appreciative of the forgetful impulse buy I made before moving out of Portland.

Liking them apples


When the CBC hit Portland last year, I said, Man, I gotta write something about this for the Portland Mercury. Which I did. (Then, once the hangover waned, I recapped CBC events for 1859.) When, a year later (present date), CiderCon was heading to, uh, Cidervana, I pitched doing a bigger story and maybe we put it on the cover and really show those cider makers from other places outside the Northwest how big fermented apples are here and what a true cider city looks and reads like. They bought it. Even cooler, I somehow finagled an assignment for 1,800 words into 3,000. Clearly, there’s a lot to say about cider.


Hood River’s Cider Trail

Cider makers in Hood River on the Columbia Gorge Cider Trail

Gorge-grown apples. Photo Brian Yaeger

Along the south bank of the Columbia River Gorge—generally perceived as a kiteboarder’s, hiker’s and wine-lover’s dream come true—we are witnessing a new farm-fresh industry take root. Whether you’re gluten-free, an adventurous beer drinker looking for the “Next Big Thing” or simply a devotee of full-flavored liquid artistry, the Hood River Valley’s newest craze is in the pomme of your hand. Following the late summer harvest and accounting for fermentation times, count on cider season in early autumn.

As an added bonus, the Gorge Cider Society has created a handy Columbia Gorge Cider Route site and map to this always-expanding exciting destination.


Another round-up of Merc blog posts:

Beer Soup

I don’t know when she kicked it off, but All About Beer editor Julie Johnson launched the magazine’s online equivalent to E’s show Talk Soup (now just “The Soup”), a forum to discuss anything and everything in the brewing industry. In 2011 I was asked to keep the soup stirring. I used it to spitball beery ideas that I’d neglected to post on my own then-blog at BeerOdyssey. Here are some of my lasting favorites beginning with the first entry:

Building Brand Disloyalty (5/13/11). “Entrepreneur Eileen Hassi (Ritual Coffee) discussed the idea of local San Francisco coffee roasters creating a disloyalty card emulating the idea conceived by World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies in London…Buy the competitors’ products and get one on the house from us…the polar opposite idea of standard punch-cards (buy 10, get one free)….Beer folks are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to their brewing brethren, but for all the talk of camaraderie and being united against the corporate behemoths, wouldn’t it be great to see this concept emerge in cities with multiple brewpubs or tasting rooms?

Pairing with exes (5/23/11). We love to to pair beers with cheese, breakfast, music and even philosophy. Basically, we take beer and something else we love and muse about the perfect partnership. But what about pairing it with something we used to love, er, make that someone – wherein the partnership has ended?

Consistency (5/26/11). One of the keys to success in the brewing business – or any manufacturing industry – is offering a consistent product so the consumer knows what he’s getting each time. But in no small part, isn’t that anathema to what we love about our little indie breweries? If we all wanted homogenized beer, we know very well where to find that. Is consistency overrated? Is is ever okay to be differently great rather than consistently good?

Whales vs. Diapers (6/1/11). It’s bad enough to bogart rare beers. Is it worse to sell them?

Fruit Beers (6/7/11) and Vegetable Beers (6/8/11). Are we drinking beer or eating a salad in a glass? Of course, this line of thinking led to wondering what to pair with carrot cake (6/10/11)?

Nips. Already addressed here.

33,000 breweries? (6/30/11). The Brewers Association’s fact sheet tells us a lot, such as that there are presently 1,753 breweries operating in the US (give or take, since they also report that new breweries seem to bloom daily)…We don’t have 1,753carmakers or bluejeans brands or even record companies. Do we NEED that many breweries? This led to the next post (7/1/11) positing on the possibility of a brewpub on every corner.

IPA Day (7/12/11). It’s a thing. A month later, I grappled with “Brewers Droop.” The following week, I dealt with Hybridized IPAs for the first (bot not last) time.

Spiritual enlightenment two or three pints at a time (7/19/11). Brewers long ago, and I’m not talking in the early days of craft like Anchor’s Fritz Maytag and John Carpenter but hundreds of years prior, referred to the fermenting agent as “God is good.” …When we appreciate great beer, we might talk about the toastiness of the malt, the spiciness of the hops, or the earthiness (or cattiness) of the yeast, but don’t forget the holiness of the “God is good.”  Isn’t that what opens our mind holes the way it did for the Sumerians, Visigoths, and Romans did? Maybe it even helps us see the divine in each other.

Non brewery collaborations (8/1/11). Perhaps it started with BridgePort and the Audubon Society with Blue Heron Ale, first brewed in 1987 before the concept of the craft beer collaboration was born.

Keg on your coffin? (9/21/11). Chris Trapper’s first song’s first line went, “Put a keg on my coffin.” Throughout the rest of the song, I pondered that interesting twist on the desert island beers question about what you’d want to have if stranded out at sea. Admittedly, at first I started dreaming about what one keg I’d want with me inside my coffin.

Smoked cider (11/7/11). To say the cider tastes exactly like a big, smokey bratwurst (with just a hint of apple) is an accurate description.

Kumquats (11/18/11). I like beer and kumquats and think they could be divine together.

Music to my beers (2/3/12). There’s not shortage of by, about and for beer. What are some of your favorites?

The Oscar for Best Supporting Hops (3/8/12). The Academy Awards might be over, but there’s one category of film theyoverlooked. They’re not really documentaries, though they do document a vital element of our culture. …Oddly, though all sorts of awards go to special effects, what do we root for more than the way this particular subject matter affects our beer?

Why “nice” and “good” are bad (4/16/12). I literally cringe, my face scrunches up a bit, whenever I hear someone say, “A nice bottle of wine” or some such variant such as “a good Pinot.”

180 degrees (Is beer part of your life?) (7/3/12). My life is completely different than it was several years ago, but in the right ways. Before, I was always looking for the perfect girl and the perfect pint.

Purple States of Beer (8/7/12). Something to revisit as election cycles roll around!

10 reasons craft beer is not macho (9/18/12). Some examples:

1. They record notes about each beer they’ve enjoyed in a notebook.

5. Tulip glasses.

9. They use cellar as a verb.


Modern Cider

AAB 33.3

AAB 33.3

Modern Cider is the cover story of AAB Vol. 33, Iss. 3, 2012. It’s, as their title puts it, “Not your father’s hard cider” (for the record, don’t call it hard cider to folks in the industry; it’s cider–that “soft” stuff is juice since you don’t call grape juice wine.). Today it gets barrel-aged, Brett-o-mized and sake’d out.