This week a supply run took us all the way to Portland, Oregon, to pick up the centerpiece of our new cidery: the brite tank. This shiny, triple-walled, jacketed and glycol-chilled vessel will be the cider’s last stop before the bottle. It’s how we put the bubbles in the booze. We hummed and hawed over different tanks but ended up following the advice of older and wiser cidermakers in opting for a more locally made, custom-welded tank that fits our needs, space and budget.
Two months ago it seemed like a fun idea to make a road-trip out of it and check out the dozens of cideries along the way, but with apple season now in full-swing it turned into a 36-hour mad dash across the border and back. We did, however, manage to sneak in a quick visit to Bushwhacker cider bar (top right). Touted as the original cider bar in North America and the first cidery in Portland, they are soon to have the largest bottle selection in Portland (of anything), and they already stock up to 350 bottled ciders. We found a cornucopia of English, French, Spanish, New England, Pacific Northwest and even Quebecois cider. If only our wallets and livers could have sustained us all night! But since the wonderful bartender Emily was closing up shop and we had another day of highways, border crossings and ferry lines ahead of us, we settled for a nightcap of Wandering Aengus 2014 Golden Russet single varietal. Sniffed it. Admired it. And quaffed it.
Back in island reality we’re shin-deep in ripe, dropping Gravensteins and have harvested about 1500 pounds already from the hundred-year-old trees at Old Orchard Farm. Admittedly, the delicate twist-and-lift action of picking the apples isn’t the hard part: the hard part is struggling to move our twenty foot ladders around the huge trees (which is like dancing with a very tall, very drunk, sharp-shinned person), then performing our rather breathtaking maneuvers atop them while burdened with an increasingly heavy picker’s bag—and finally, lifting and carting each tote across the orchard to the truck. It’s tiring work but we’re keeping our heads up with the thought of the beautiful cider these apples will soon produce and the words of support (along with the occasional glass of homemade lemonade) that we receive from the Pender community each day. Cheers to that!