Part #1 of the What’s NW of NW? Series
We wanted this trip to have a different tone, be a little eccentric and embrace some of the local flavor. What better way to do that than to start with a cidery? After all Washington State is apple country and the 30 min ride from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (south of the city) to our hotel in the Ballard district (north side of the city) needed to be broken up by something.
Yep, you heard us right. We hit our first place before we even unpacked. After you’ve been stuck on a cross country flight for over 6 hours, you deserve a refreshing beverage post haste! Luckily for us Seattle Cider Co. is right on the way in the heart of the Industrial District, which is south of downtown. As you may imagine from the name “Industrial District”, when you arrive it doesn’t feel like the hip, trendy Seattle you were probably expecting, but that’s a good thing because this is where stuff actually gets made. We all know when it comes to beer and cider, fresher is better, and in seeking out that freshness you will often find yourself in industrial locales.
Once you cross the threshold it does feel more like the Seattle you were probably expecting, while maintaining some of its blue-collar character. Technically you’ve entered “The Woods“, which is a tasting room that is the home of Seattle Cider Co., Two Beers Brewing Co. and Bread & Circuses Restaurant. Yep, that’s right, a brewery and cidery under one roof, with food provided by a famous food truck company. Needless to say, we were in heaven. However we didn’t think it was fair to either company to combine reviews, so on this day we stuck to drinking Seattle Cider and focusing on them only.
The cider menu offered here is quite extensive, with 12 choices, all on draught. Seattle cider is not a traditional cider where they just blend different varieties of apple to create different flavor profiles, this is a cidery where they are willing to experiment. I’m talking about flavors like Basil Mint, Gin Botanical and Three Pepper to name a few. I have found over the years that flavored ciders can be tricky, because when they’re made with subtlety and natural ingredients they can be really good (like 2 Towns Rhubarbarian), but if a deft hand is not present they can quickly go awry and overwhelm not only the apple flavor but your entire palate (not to mention they can taste like you’re drinking a Yankee Candle).
Thankfully they offer flights, so we try all 12 ciders available and get a real sense of what these guys are all about. It turns out they are all about making really quality ciders and using quality ingredients to compliment the flavor profile of the apples they are using. When you consider the flavors we tried that day (Honey, Gin Botanical, Spruce, Hot Pepper, Cranberry, Basil Mint, Sour Raspberry and Oaked Maple), I would’ve been surprised if they all worked, but they do. I’m not telling you I loved them all, I’m just telling you that the flavor profiles they chose to pair up are really well thought out, the flavors taste natural and will appeal to many different tastes. Also, if your looking for more traditional (non-flavored) cider options they have you covered there as well. In fact our favorite cider we tried turned out to be their Washington Heirloom cider (although the Spruce Tree was a close second), and that’s the wonder of Seattle Cider. We usually prefer non-flavored cider, but we really fell for some of their more exotic stuff and still got a great varietal cider to boot.
Ironically, looking back on it one of my favorite things about this place is the location. I now have a place to stop every time I fly into the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, as I’m most certainly going to drive north towards the city and pass Seattle Cider on my way. They have become the perfect post-flight stop with great cider, not to mention beer from Two Beers (if I’m in a beer mood) and really tasty food (you always need a solid meal after a long flight). They are a refueling station for my body and soul. Yes, my soul is energized by spending time in taprooms, don’t judge me!