Cider Tasting Party
This time of year, as the hours of light get shorter and the air gets colder, I harbor a strong desire to stay cozy inside. Although I hope to get outside more this winter than I did last winter, it’s also o.k. to balance a summer of fun adventures outdoors with connecting with friends over some good food and cider. Millie was happy to act as sous chef and greeter at the party. (Note, she’s not actually allowed on the table, but too cute to not take a photo.)
For the past three years here in Corvallis, Oregon, I have hosted a cider tasting party with friends. I had never really tried many different types of cider until I moved out here, where there are so many local cider places with really fun options. Cider prices range from about $5 up to $20 so it’s a great idea to know what you like before investing in a fairly large bottle.
The premise of the party is to ask friends to bring one or two bottles of their favorite cider (or something new they want to try) as well as a fall themed appetizer or snack to share. Since I live in a place where there are tons of local cideries, I ask that the guests limit their cider selection to either Oregon or Washington (although there are no penalties if a California or Canadian cider sneaks its way into the competition).
I’m pretty informal with the tasting process, but I like to sort all the ciders at the start of the party based on type. It ranges year to year, but some common categories tend to be fruity ciders (such as cherry or blackberry), dry ciders, hopped ciders, and traditional apple. I start with the dry ciders and pour everyone a taste, noting on a sheet of paper the cider, location, and what people’s initial reactions are. I try to leave a small amount in each bottle which allows for people to re-taste anything they want at the end of the cider tasting. Once all the ciders have been tasted and people have enjoyed food, we then do a vote on a favorite. Last year’s favorite was the Tieton Blossom Nectar from Washington State and this year’s favorite was a local favorite, Two Towns Ciderhouse, Pumpkin Jack. I usually give a small prize (chocolate or a cider) to the person who bought the cider we all liked the best, just to make it a fun competition.
Also, in regards to food, this year I also tried a new recipe to make pretzel bites with beer cheese dip which was a big hit and I would definitely recommend you try. I used this recipe: https://www.foxandbriar.com/soft-beer-pretzels-with-beer-cheese-dip/ with the variation of adding more fresh garlic and using a pumpkin flavored ale for the beer.