Oregon Cider Week Sneak Peek

Oregon Cider Week Sneak Peek

Oregon Cider Week is coming up June 20th-29th, and it will be bigger and better than ever!  We’re planning lots of events throughout the week, beginning with a Cider Appreciation class on June 19th (one day early!) and then an appearance at the Cider Summit on June 20th and 21st. The venue for the Summit is changing this year to Fields Neighborhood Park in the Pearl District. We’ll cap the week with our Taproom 2nd Anniversary Party. Stay tuned for more information on our other plans – including tap takeovers, paired dinners, and more – as the Week approaches.

New Releases

We can hardly keep track of all our new and upcoming releases. On shelves now is Br’er Rabbit, made with fresh-pressed carrots and apples along with carrot madras honey; the unusual 14-Way, made with 14 different yeasts; and another entry in our single-varietal Revelation series, Revelation Jonathan. Also stay tuned for three new Tent Show acts: D’anjou Mosaic (hopped perry), Mandarin Chamomile, and the mysterious Angel of Death.

¡Tepache!

If you haven’t tried our Portland-famous ¡Tepache!, get some while you can. Made with fresh whole pineapples, fermented on the skins with subtle touches of cinnamon, allspice and cloves, it is traditionally served mixed with a light beer. However, local mixologists have been experimenting with all sorts of other possibilities including rum, tequila, champagne and hard cider, and we hear it makes a fantastic float with vanilla ice cream.

Idaho Distribution

In addition to our recent assault on California, we’re soon to be distributed all over Idaho. Tell your friends and family to the East to look for us on shelves in the next few weeks. Nat will be traveling to Boise next week for seven course cider paired dinner at State and Lemp.

Press

If it seems like cider is everywhere lately, it’s true. Check out some of our recent press:

NPR’s The Salt: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/04/30/308270113/renegade-cider-makers-get-funky-to-cope-with-apple-shortage

Thrillist: http://www.thrillist.com/drink/portland/best-cider-bars-in-portland

NW Travel Magazine: http://nwtravelmag.com/northwests-new-cider-pubs-taprooms/

And we had a pretty picture in a story about Bushwhackers in The Oregonian:http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/04/cider_takes_off_as_oregons_lat.html

Hopped Cider Fest

Join us at the taproom on Saturday March 29th from noon to 10 pm for the first-ever Hopped Cider Fest. We have gathered together 16 18 19 ciders with hops — surely the largest collection of hoppy ciders ever assembled. $5 gets you in the door with a commemorative tasting glass and 2 tickets, each ticket good for one taste. Buy more tickets for $2 each.

Food trucks will be parked outside including Bro-Dogs + Burgers and Nourishment.

Every hour on the hour, we will be offering free tastes of the SPECIAL POURS (below), so stick around for these rare gems.

Cidermakers will be on hand to answer questions so come one come all you cider and hop geeks!

ON TAP:

  1. Rev Nat’s Hallelujah Hopricot (the classic!)
  2. Rev Nat’s Code Name Hopland #3 (hopped 6 times, with 10 varieties, over 5 lbs per barrel)
  3. Rev Nat’s Pear Simcoe (Bartlett perry with Simcoe hops)
  4. Cider Riot! Everybody Pogo, Portland (English Goldings hops)
  5. Anthem Hops, Salem (the original!)
  6. 2 Towns Hop and Stalk, Corvallis (Rhubarbarian with Citra)
  7. Square Mile Spur and Vine, Portland (Galaxy from Australia)
  8. Doc’s Draft Dry Hopped, New York (Centennial and Chinook)

BOTTLE POURS:

  1. Schilling Original, Auburn WA
  2. Finnriver Dry Hopped Cider, Port Townsend WA (Cascade)
  3. Sea Cider Tillicum Hopped Cider, Saanichton BC
  4. Tieton Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider, Tieton WA
  5. Eaglemount Boot Brawl, Port Townsend WA
  6. Portland Cider Co Hop’rageous, Oregon City OR

SPECIAL POURS, FREE SAMPLES EVERY HOUR:

NOON: Woodchuck Dry Hop, Middlebury VT
1 PM: Citizen Cider Full Nelson, Burlington VT (Nelson Sauvin)
2 PM: Colorado Cider Co Grasshop-ah, Dever CO
3 PM: Grizzly Ciderworks Hopclaw, Woodburn WA
4 PM: Merridale Hoptimized, Cobble Hill BC
5 PM: Sasquatch Brewing, Portland OR

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News from Reverend Nat: Hopped Cider Festival and more

Hopped Cider Festival
We’re excited to invite you to the first-ever hopped cider festival in the country, taking place at our very own taproom on March 29. Featuring over 16 hopped ciders from all over the country, the festival will include our Hallelujah Hopricot, Codename: Hopland #3 and Pear Simcoe as well as other regional favorites, hard-to-find experimental ciders and far-away treats. Show up anytime from noon to midnight but get there early, because some may not last long!Click here for the Facebook event page.

Honors and News
We’re honored to announce that the special-release Lorrie’s Gold was chosen by WIllamette Week as one of their Top 5 Ciders of the Year for 2013. They described it as “intensely dry and tannic…a bit peppery and earthy…” There are still a few bottles left at the taproom for tasting and buying. In the same issue we’re included in the Beer Guide 2014: Directory of Portland Cideries.

Portland Mercury did a great review of our operation last October calling our Hallelujah Hopricot “a truly disruptive, game-changing cider.” Also in October, Portland Monthlymagazine showcased Nat and the taproom for a beautiful full-page story. In September, we achieved national recognition in Saveur, with a nod to our Providence Traditional New England.

In possibly the best accolade yet received, our Hallelujah Hopricot was included in Pete Brown’s magnificent 2013 book, World’s Best Ciders. This book is widely available in local bookstores and online.

New Releases

So many ciders, so little time. If you’ve been down to the taproom lately, you know there have been several newcomers to the taplist. There’s an addition to the Revelation series, Revelation Lady-Api, which is light, delicious and truly sessionable. (We’ve already released Revelation Newtown Pippin and Revelation Gravenstein which are available at the taproom.) In the next few weeks, look forward to John Adams’ Breakfast Tankard, a low-alcohol, unusual and satisfying quaff with coffee and mandarin orange zest. Also look for a return of everyone’s favorite crazy-good pineapple Tepache, a new batch of lactobacillus Sacrilege Sour Cherry, and a new series based on the 7 Deadly Sins.

While we generally think there’s little reason to leave our perfect city, friends and family in other states will be thrilled to hear our ciders are now available outside of Oregon! Tell people to look for us all over Washington and in select stores in the San Francisco Bay area and Southern California. Check the website for specific retailers. We’re also heading into Idaho soon. Even for those not in the West, a few of our ciders are available online at Made in Oregon and can be shipped just about anywhere in the U.S.

In case you’re wondering how we’re fitting in all this cider, here are some numbers. When we first moved into the 2nd Ave. location, we had 3300 square feet of space. We’ve now increased that to 4800, and are looking at adding more room for a total of 6300 sq. ft. soon. Thank you for all your support in the last 18 months, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at an event or the taproom soon!

Maximizing Efficiency on a Goodnature Squeezebox

At Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, we upgraded to an Goodnature Squeezebox SX-200 about one year ago. The first day we used it, we got through four bins, then eight then eleven. After completing the system by purchasing a matching Goodnature Elevator and PF-150 Pomace Feed System with EG 400/50 Grinder, we’re up to about 35 bins each day.

Press days start at 6 AM and end around 10 PM. We run two shifts with two people each, the switchover happening at 2 PM. Setup in the morning is about 45 minutes and a rough cleanup takes about an hour.  A full truckload of apples is about 48 bins which takes about two days so we save the thorough cleaning until the pressing is done. That cleaning takes about four hours including cleaning the floor. The press operator generally never goes beyond arm’s reach of the machine. The second person loads and unloads apple bins, (including press dumping bins), runs the bin dumper, sorts the apples, keeps the pomace hopper full, and keeps the grinder running smoothly. Both jobs are about three-quarter time. You absolutely need two people, but neither one is working his tail off. For instance, if we’re short-handed, I run the second person role for both shifts (16 hours) without serious fatigue. We always try to increase the number of bins we process in a day because the cleanup is the same no matter how many bins we press and cleanup is significant.

I recently asked our No. 1 Press Jockey, Jason West (no relation), for a list of tips to maximizing the throughput of the press. With the above equipment, the press is the bottleneck. We do about 50 pressings per day, so shaving even 30 seconds off each run can really add up. On the flip side, a one minute slowdown per press can add an hour to our day, or reduce the bin count by two.


The Objective: Press as much juice as fast as possible utilizing a machine that moves at a hydraulically slow pace.

The Machine: The Goodnature Squeezebox SX-200 (i.e. the apple accordion, the peoples pomice pusher, Bob, Shiva’s sippy cup)

The delicate manner in which to produce the most nectar while staying efficient is not complicated but requires a dedicated focus and persistence.  The following rules will ensure you meet this zen like level over extended periods of time:

Rule 1: KEEP THE PRESS MOVING 97.2% of the TIME.
(Ed. Note: He’s not kidding. The middle platen must be moving nearly all the time. We eat lunch in shifts and bathroom breaks are coordinated with the second person.)

Rule 2: Before pumping, check pomace hopper to ensure proper level of pomace to complete a full fill. If not, yell “I NEED MORE APPLES!”

Rule 3: Before pumping pomace into the bags, align the press frame, bags and plates equidistant to ensure even filling without overfilling.

Rule 4: Fill bags fast, equal, and full. FEF!
(Ed. Note: The pomace pump shouldn’t be stop-started frequently which is bad for the motor. Aim for one start-up per fill/pressing.)

Rule 5: SWITCH PRESS DIRECTION IMMEDIATELY UPON BAG FILL.

Rule 6: Equalize bags as soon as switch as occured.
(Ed. Note: This means that you’re sticking your fingers and hands into the bag openings while they’re being pressed, so be aware of getting your fingers pinched, crushed, and amputated.)

Rule 7: Start scraping bags as soon as your scraping paddle can fit between press bag plates (roughly one third to one half through the press).

Rule 8: Before dumping, shake and align press frame, bags and plates equidistant to ensure room for pomice cakes to exit during dump.

Rule 9: Dump the press bags when there is still 4-6 inches left on the currently-pressing run, as measured on the throw of the piston.

Rule 10: Dump the press bags with momentum to make certain bags empty on one attempt rather than having to bounce the racks multiple times.

Rule 11: Keep spent pomace dumping bins clear as to allow pomace cakes to empty freely.

Rule 12: Monitor the fermentation tank to ensure there is no overfill.

Rule 13: ALWAYS THINK ABOUT RULE 1!


Jason presses one bin of apples in a little under 25 minutes using the above techniques, which includes quite a bit of sitting and waiting for the hydraulics to press. We have the Squeezebox’s vernier speed control knobs adjusted to maximum speed which equates to about a 3 minute press time. We are currently looking for replacement control units which would allow a faster maximum cycle time. The above times and processes are based on high quality dessert fruit. For lower quality dessert fruit, we still keep up a fast pace but switch out the press bags at the shift change. Having two sets of press bags is a requirement to reaching a fast pace continuously.

Oregon Cider Week – Cider Appreciation Class June 25th

Over the course of three hours, “students” will taste 20+ ciders alongside the Reverend himself, all the while discussing the history of cider, regional differences in cidermaking techniques, and the developing cider culture in the US. The ciders we will drink include traditional English Westcountry, French style from Normandy, Spanish Basque and Asturian, and the emerging American style. The cost for this event is $45 per person and “class” size is limited to 8. Please arrive at 7 pm well-fed since we will serve no food. Reserve your spot now by calling 503-567-2221 or emailing nat@reverendnatshardcider.com.

Small-Scale Commercial Cidermaking with Low Capital Input

During CiderCon 2013, I gave a presentation entitled “Small-Scale Commercial Cidermaking with Low Capital Input”. I talked about equipment & techniques including fermenters, kegging, pressing, bottling and much more. The audio of me giving the presentation is available here.

Download mp3 audio here

I used Google Docs for the slideshow and because of the large number of photos and animation/transitions, PDF export doesn’t work. You must click the “Present” button at the top right of the slideshow screen in order to have the slides make any sense.

View Google Doc slideshow presentation here

News from Reverend Nat: Providence release and more

New release: Providence Traditional New England

I think my favorite part of cidermaking is releasing a new variety. We started our year with Revival Dry, our English-style “farmhouse” cider and we proceeded to sell out in a few months. (Don’t worry, we made three times as much this year.) Up next was Deliverance Ginger, which has turned out to be our second best seller. (And it’s getting a new quinine/tonic sister-cider soon.) The next release was Hallelujah Hopricot, which has been a runaway success. (We simply cannot make it fast enough.) But all year long, our winter seasonal cider has been quietly aging on oak and raisins. It has seen many thousands of gallons of other ciders leave the garage, patiently waiting its turn. And that time has come.

This cider follows a very old recipe dating from early 1600′s colonial America. When early English settlers came over the ocean, they brought some of their favorite cider apples with them, but soon discovered that other varieties produced better in the new world. So they set about to make cider that reminded them of home, but using these new varieties. The one taste that was lacking was tannin. English and French bittersweet cider apples with odd names such as Yarlington Mill, Dabinet, Medaille d’Or, Kingston Black, Porter’s Perfection, Brown Thorn, and Skyrme’s Kernel all contain tannins. (We use these varieties in Revival Dry.) But American apples with possibly familiar names such as Northern Spy, Golden Russet, MacIntosh, Baldwin, Winesap, Cortland and Newtown Pippin contain virtually no tannins. Using their Yankee ingenuity, these early cider lovers added raisins, which are high in tannins, to their fermenting cider. And to overcome poor sanitation, our ancestors added whatever sugars they had on hand to create a stronger, more alcoholic cider. Fast forward a few hundred years and this style of cider is called “New England Style”. The name “Providence” harkens back to Reverend William Blaxton, one of the founding fathers of Rhode Island (along with Roger Williams, who was eaten by an apple tree), who is credited with developing the first native apple variety.

Our take on this style is fully dry and still (no carbonation). Some recipes for New England Style call for the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg, which we’ve done here, using whole sticks and cracked cloves. This cider sat on oak and raisins for 10 months so it’s quite oakey but it doesn’t taste like raisins. It is very vinous and “wine”-y, and high in alcohol, coming in at 9.8%. We’ve been demoing it at tastings for the last couple months and are excited to release it to the public. We released it just a few weeks ago but the stock is down to 61 cases of this treat so don’t wait to get your bottle now.

Our new cidery is in the works

A year ago, we were really excited to have a whole room in the basement dedicated to the cidery. I think we had 1000 gallons in it at one point, and that was very tight. We rapidly expanded to include the garage, allowing us an additional 3500 gallons of fermentation capacity in there. But we’re out of room now and still can’t keep up with demand. Not to mention the extreme difficulties of handling dozens of bins (many tons) of apples in the driveway. If you’ve been reading these newsletters for a while, you’ll recall that we’ve been on the hunt for a new production space for many months, and it looks like we’re getting very close to signing a lease on a new cidery. We’ll have a big grand opening party in the early spring after our taproom is outfitted. Oh yeah, did I mention a taproom? It will be somewhere in between a wine tasting room and a bar. All our ciders will be on tap, we’ll offer flights of Revelation single-varietal ciders and to-go bottles and growler fills. We’ll keep you posted!

Online store coming soon

Just in time for the holidays, we’re working on a new online ordering system so you can buy cider for yourself and others. There are a lot of rules and regs to figure out to ship to each state, but we’re excited to offer cider to anyone in the country. We will also be using our new online store as the platform for a cider club, which is just like a wine club but better. We’ll share more details about the club as we get closer. Expect the store to go online shortly after Buy Nothing Day (aka Black Friday).

 2012 harvest complete

The Pacific Northwest’s harvest of apples in 2012 has come to a close and it’s a whopper of a year. We harvested nearly 12,000 lbs of English and French bittersweet cider apples from our grower partners in Oregon. And the big commercial orchards in Washington yielded a record 122 million packed boxes, which means a lot of apples that we can buy throughout the year. However, the Michigan and New York growers had a really terrible year so we expect the price of apples to go up a bit from last year. There will still be plenty of apples at the right price for us, so we don’t anticipate any price increases. We’re truly thankful to live right next door to the largest apple growing region in the country. I expect that we’ll press in the neighborhood of 200,000 pounds of apples from the 2012 harvest. That’s a lot of cider to drink!

News from Reverend Nat: Hallelujah Hopricot release

Hallelujah Hopricot available

Our newest hard cider is on store shelves now. And that cider is Hallelujah Hopricot. It’s proving to be a real crowd-pleaser and a great seller.  This is the first recipe we’ve made that was developed by a neighbor homebrewer (and recipe genius) Travis Scrivner. When you first pour a glass of it, you’ll notice a robust aroma of equal parts apricot and hops. After trying dried apricots, apricot puree, whole apricots and more, we decided on an apricot juice. And the hops are Amarillo, Cascade and Chinook. We use whole-leaf hops (not pelletized) and “dry hop” the cider by soaking the hops in the finished cider just prior to bottling. The hops we’re using smell and taste citrusy, with grapefruit and lemon and hint of pine. These delicate aromas dissipate over time and if they’re not treated gently so the cider stays cold from the moment the hops are added until you pick it up off the shelf. If you dive deep into the flavors, you might notice more going on. There is a lot of complexity underneath the apricot and hops including multiple yeasts and wit beer spices. Ask in person sometime for all the details. It’s quite fun to make. And drink up, this cider is available year-round and is our new best-seller.

And did you know that we’re smack dab in the middle of the 2012 hop harvest? In honor of this season, the next batch of Hallelujah Hopricot (batch code 2011-19) will use freshly-harvested “wet” hops for an amazing aroma. We’re excited!

Our continued search for space

Due to the incredible response for my cider by thirsty Portlanders and beyond, we’ve officially outgrown the basement and garage. But we’re making do as best we can, along with all the inefficiencies such a small space requires. For instance, we unloaded two bins of apples yesterday, apple by apple, handfuls at a time. My kingdom for a forklift! We started looking for a proper production facility a few months ago and since then have been pining over a great potential production space in nearby Kenton. Alas, that space is not to be. The landlord is doing renovations to the building which will last until at least another eight months, and we’re sure the rate will go up, out of our price range, when they’re done. So the search continues, including this great-looking space a few blocks away from the intersection of NE Broadway and N Williams, a block from the new eastside streetcar line. Fingers crossed!

Upcoming events

You might have heard of the Slow Food movement, which aims to preserve traditional and regional cuisine, raise awareness of what we eat, how it’s grown and how it’s made. Well have you heard of Slow Money? The Slow Money movement raises social consciousness to an equal footing with investment returns and encourages direct investment in local and sustainable businesses. There’s a chapter of the group in Portland and we’ve been invited to give a presentation to the investor group about Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and our growth plans. If you know any accredited investors who would like to hear more, have them check it out.

In addition to that great event, both Nat and our new fabulous tastings specialist Carolyn are doing tastings around town and preparing for harvest season events. As always, check the website or keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter to stay informed.

Media coverage

Now that our cider has been on store shelves for a few months, the media is starting to take notice. To keep track of these stories we’ve put up a new page on our website. We have sample bottles sent to a few more places so we’ll see more coverage as time goes by.

The 2012 harvest has begun

On a beautiful and sunny Labor Day, we drove up to Hood River, Oregon for the first of many bins of apples from this year’s harvest. It was only two months ago that we finished pressing the end of the 2011 harvested apples which had been in cold storage. The variety shown here is Gravenstein, both green and red sports. They’re destined for Revelation Gravenstein, a single varietal hard cider. From the 2011 harvest, we made 3500 gallons of hard cider and we’re anticipating making close to 12,000 gallons from the 2012 harvest. More apples means more cider in more places like Washington, San Francisco and maybe even New York.

Talk to you soon!

Filtering and pumping on a small scale

UPDATE 11/19/2012: Added video to the end of this post.

Yesterday I pumped and filtered over 1000 gallons and all my equipment worked really well with no hitches and me working all by myself (per usual). As I was learning about commercial scale cidermaking I would have been overjoyed to find all the filtering and pumping details in one place so here they are for any other aspiring cidermakers.

The big spaceship looking thing in the middle is a lenticular filter housing, made by Pall. It uses SupraDisc media, 12″ in diameter, three stacked on top of each other. In my operation, I only filter to 7 microns nominal which is considered a coarse filtration.

The filter housing is pricey and the media is too. I’ve never used a plate and frame filter but from the discussions I’ve had with brewers, lenticular filters are much easier to use, waste no cider, are easier to set up and break down and do a very good job. I am certainly happy with it.

The cider is pumped from one container to another, through the filter. I use valves on each end of the filter. The input valve is used to control the flow and thus the pressure buildup in the filter housing. Too much pressure forces the little bits that I’m filtering deep into the media, reducing the life of the media. A valve on the outlet lets me move from one target container to another without all the cider pouring out of the housing. In addition to the two valves, I use two pressure gauges. It is the difference between the inlet and outlet pressure that determines how far you’re pushing crap deep into the filter. My Pall technical representative say to keep the two pressures within a few PSI of each other. The last bit-n-bob on each end of the filter are sight glasses. These aren’t really necessary but they’re very helpful so I can see how clear my cider is getting as well as debugging any foaming/loss of suction problems I might have. Sight glasses are pricey fittings but are worth it to me.



I’ll discuss my use of plastic HDPE IBCs for my primary fermentation tanks in a future blog post. They’re tough, inexpensive, readily available and with some modifications and adapters, are easy to use with standard tri-clamp fittings. In yesterday’s rackings, I transferred from these containers to my PaperIBCs. Both containers had hoses attached directly.

After I get everything hooked together (except connecting the source and target containers on each end), I hook the inlet hose up to a garden hose and run a whole bunch of water through it. I store the filter media soaked in a sulfite solution – they’re wet all the time. I pump water through the filter until I can’t taste or smell sulfite any more, and can’t taste or smell filter media. One area to improve upon is doing a quick ripper free sulfite test to ensure thorough flushing. Then I run a bunch of gallons of sanitizer through the system, purge via CO2, then hook up the containers at both ends and begin sucking cider. Despite doing my best to purge water before sucking cider, the first few gallons look mostly like water but it very quickly transitions to straight cider.

All this setup time means that once I start filtering, I like to do as much as I can. Yesterday I filtered one batch of Deliverance Ginger and three batches of Hallelujah Hopricot. Breakdown of the whole kit is pretty quick. I reverse the position of the pump so it’s pumping backwards through the filter housing and run about 150 gallons of water through it on full-blast. My pump is a 1 HP 3450 RPM Thomsen #4 so it puts out some serious water. It’s that high pressure backflushing that is crucial to prolonging the life of the filter media.