When you imagine a cidery what comes to mind? For me, it’s sweeping orchards and farm animals nestled in a quaint valley, the sound of buzzing bees and baaing lambs abound with a cool breeze wafting through the trees and rustling the leaves. While many cideries do fit this description, a recent surge in urban cideries has been evident in Washington. These can range from garage size operations to nationally reaching brands. They offer ciders from dry to sweet, traditional to modern. Some have tasting rooms, while others are only found in taprooms and bottle shops around town. Whether you’re a cider newbie or an aficionado, here are five small urban Washington cideries you should know about.
Soundbite Hard Cider – Everett
The first and only commercial cidery in Everett, Soundbite Hard Cider opened in 2019. The tasting room and production space are housed together in a business center near the Everett Mall. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating. While inside, look closely through the open bard door into the production space and you’ll see the cider tanks are named after some interesting characters. The tasting room is open seven days a week for pints and flights as well as to-go growlers and crowlers. They make experimental ciders with interesting flavor combinations. Drawing inspiration from music, the ciders include names like: Semi Sonic, Black Currant Motorcycle Club and Midnight Lavender. I enjoyed the Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb with its semi-sweet cherry and spicy kick. Stop by during one of their scheduled open-mic or movie nights for a real treat.
Channel Marker Cider – Seattle
Established in 2016, Channel Marker Cider makes small-batch, handcrafted ciders inspired by “the maritime climate and adventurous spirit of Seattle.” The owners met while sailing the Pacific Ocean and the nautical theme is present throughout the cidery. Their ciders have unique flavor combinations like Habanero Lime, Cucumber Blackberry, Raspberry White Pepper and Lavender Bergamot. One of my favorites is the Rosemary Cran Ginger. There’s plenty of ginger bite balanced out with juicy, tart cranberry, and piney, earthy rosemary. Because they are small-batch, new ciders are constantly being developed and released. They do have some year-round and seasonal flavors, but many are limited edition, get them before they’re gone. Currently, they don’t have a taproom, but you can find Channel Marker Cider on tap and in bottle shops throughout Washington, especially in the Puget Sound area.
Greenwood Cider Company – Seattle
Founded in 2015, Greenwood Cider began by making use of wild, foraged and unused fruits from the city and forest. Today, they continue this tradition by using wild harvested ingredients like mountain huckleberries, rosehips and fir tips in addition to Washington apples. These dry ciders are a blend of “modern tastes and traditional cider making” that combine the intricacies of traditional ciders and modern adjuncts. Made in small batches, they have year-round favorites as well as special releases. Look for Hops, Fire-Roasted Pepper, Lingonberry and Whiskey Barrel Heirloom at a bottle shop or on tap around Seattle or order for pickup from their production facility. My personal favorite is their Huckleberry cider. It is juicy while not being a sugar bomb and has a great balance of sweet and tart. Rumor has it they will be opening their own taproom soon!
Brownrigg Hard Cider – Seattle
Nestled in an unassuming warehouse in the SODO district just blocks from the stadiums you’ll find Brownrigg Hard Cider. The taproom and production space is open weekends and offers on premise pours as well as growlers and crowlers to go. The cidery uses all Washington apple juice and many of their flavor additions are grown in their West Seattle orchard. The ciders are seasonal and small batch, so the tap list rotates regularly. Two of their ciders have won double gold medals, the Fig Leaf cider from Cidercraft Awards and the White Peach Basil cider from Sip Magazine’s Best of the Northwest. The White Peach Basil is one of my favorites, it combines juicy peaches with earthy basil. The flavors are well balanced and refreshing. While you’re there say hi to Millie Bobbie Brownrigg, the resident pug, she’s very friendly and loves to be pet.
Grit City Ciderworks – Tacoma
Grit City Ciderworks opened their taproom in the Hilltop neighborhood during the summer of 2020. The cidery features local flavors with many ingredients sourced from Tacoma trees as well as the owners’ urban farm. If you’ve got a tree that needs picking, let them know and they’ll use the apples in one of their ciders! The taproom is open Thursday through Sunday. All ages are welcome, and you can bring outside food. Grab a seat on a couch, armchair, or bench seating to enjoy a pour or flight. See if you can catch a glimpse of their mascot, Octo, inspired by the giant octopus living under the Narrows Bridge. One of my favorites is the Mango Citra Hopped cider. It has a wonderful balance of juicy, tropical mango and citrusy, earthy hops. The tap list is always changing with new ciders added regularly.
The urban cidery is here to stay. They’ve found a way to mesh traditional and modern cider making practices in spaces that aren’t conventionally associated with cider making. I’ve always been a proponent of there’s a cider for everyone and cider is for everyone. Whether you’re a fan of sweet or dry, modern or traditional, live in the city or out in the country, there is a cider for you. You just need to get out there and try them!
Photos by: Lindsey Rae; Whistle Stop Alehouse photo by Mercedes Santaella-Lam