Portland’s Swift Cider seeks to reclaim – and define – traditional ciders

by | Sep 27, 2022

According to Aidan Currie, owner of Portland, Oregon–based Swift Cider, Cider is the most American of beverages. As the nation grew, so did the apple orchards. Apples were pressed into cider each fall, naturally fermenting and becoming steadily higher in alcohol content through the winter. Through his company, Swift Cider, Currie seeks to reclaim this tradition – while shaping it to fit with current trends.

 With that in mind, he’s focused on making naturally fermented cider using old world European methods. “No one’s defined ‘traditional’ in our space, but we’re not going to call it a cider if we add sugar,” says Currie.

For instance, Currie’s Honeycrisp cider is made with only apples and yeast. It’s more expensive to make cider without adding sugar or water, but he believes it yields a purer, higher quality product with a drier flavor.

The absence of cane sugar, honey, or other added sweeteners allows for a more crisp cider, allowing  hints of fruit flavors like marionberry, pomegranate, raspberry and blood orange to come forward. 

While cider may be Currie’s passion, he has also developed hard seltzers in yuzu citrus and melon melange as well as a pineapple hop cider with a piney aroma to complement the tropical fruit. Moreover, Swift Cider worked with Drift West water-kefir to create Symbiosis, a guava, mango, passionfruit hard water kefir. This unique fruit water-kefir (5% ABV) is a lightly effervescent mix of tropical fruit with a hint of sourness that gives it a sour gummy bear flavor.

Swift Cider currently relies on bulk apple juice from nearby orchards pressed within 24 hours of delivery. Currie has planted his own carefully selected apple varieties in four orchards and some backyards near Portland to develop cider apples for Swift. It will take 3-5 years for these orchards to mature.

Swift Cider products are available at their north Portland taproom which is open on Wednesdays from 5 to 9 p.m. On a recent visit, the 12 taps flowed with Swift’s hard cider, hard seltzer, hard kombucha, and local craft beer from Everybody’s IPA. Cans of a variety of Swift’s products filled the fridge by the door. Empanadas from Empanada Emporium are available to go with these food-friendly ciders. The space is kid-friendly, dogs are allowed on the patio, and outside food is welcome.

Swift products can also be found at grocery stores such as Safeway and Fred Meyer in Oregon, and Washington.

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