With the recent addition of Bellingham Cider Co., craft cider has started to make its mark on the already-popular beer scene of Bellingham, Washington. The cidery and restaurant, located in the city’s Arts District, currently pours six flagship ciders crafted by cidermaker and co-owner Joshua Serface.
From the classic dry cider to the more unique blackberry ginger cider there is a little something for everyone at Bellingham Cider. Plus, the spot overlooks the Bellingham Bay and there is arguably no better place to sip a cold refreshing cider and enjoy a beautiful Northwest sunset in the fall. Read on to find out what cider Serface would drink to accompany such a night and how his grandparents influenced his life to help get him to where he is today.
1) Is there a type of cider you haven’t created you have been wanting to make? If so, what?
There are two different ciders I plan to make this year. The first is a sour cider, crafted similarly to sour beers. Sour beers are rapidly growing here in the Pacific Northwest and I have dabbled in sour cidermaking at home, turning out some intriguing test batches, but this will be my first attempt at commercially producing sour ciders.
Whatcom County has a great craft beverage culture that supports imaginative sour beer production, for example, North Fork Brewery [in Deming]. Eric Jorgensen, the head brewer, has been an innovator in sour beer-making for years and he plans to offer what he’s learned about the sour craft. Having a collaborative culture for like-minded businesses in the area encourages healthy competition but also pushes the quality of regional products farther. I am looking forward to applying that knowledge to cider making.
The second type of cider I’m excited to start producing is a “farm style.” This style of cider is called “open fermentation,” where wild yeasts that surround us in our everyday lives do what nature intended and ferment naturally. It can be difficult to control the flavors and balance of a product that ferments unpredictably, but that just adds to the excitement. I think it will be a welcomed addition to our cider line-up.
2) Out of all your ciders, which is your favorite to make? And which is your favorite to drink?
So far, my favorite cider to make has been my Gateway hopped cider… This cider was intended for the beer drinker, so I emulate the process brewers use. Most hopped ciders are dry-hopped, which means they add a bag of hops to the batch at the end of fermentation so that the acids of the cider extract some level of hop oil from the flower. I used brewery kettles to boil hops rather than dry-hopping. This allows for the full oils of the hops to be extracted for flavor rather than just smell and subtle notes compared with dry hopping. For people who don’t like a hop-forward cider, mixing this with dry or semi-sweet is a great option to adjust the flavor profile.
3) What’s your go-to cider on an end-of-summer night?
My thirst is motivated by one of my newest creations — Blueberry Lemonade. Not too sweet, as all my ciders are released on the drier side. It has a good balance between the sweetness of the blueberries and the tartness of the lemon. This one is awesome on a summer day, truly refreshing and easy to drink for nearly every palate. I particularly like how well balanced it is for being a complex flavor combination. As you sip this cider you are greeted with a welcoming blueberry note up front that then gives way to the apple blend base the cider is made up of. It finishes well balanced with the tart lemon, sweet apples and fresh blueberries without being overbearing, making it an easy afternoon sipper.
4) If you could sit down, drink one of your ciders and have a chat with any famous individual, who would it be and why?
Not to evade the question, but I don’t think I’m inspired to share a cider with any particularly famous person that I can think of. Though, I would love to sit down and share one of my ciders with my grandparents. They passed away about 25 years ago, but growing up next door to them, they helped raise me.
Their influence continues to shape my decisions in life, even down to my cidermaking. It would be fascinating to sit down and share the Bellingham Cider Co. journey and product with them. I think they would enjoy a cider, as I believe they would have earlier in life as cider used to be very popular in the United States back when they were in their early 20’s… I would think my cider might remind them of how cider used to taste in their day. Sharing a cider with them and seeing the look in their eye, knowing how much influence they had on me growing up. That’s really the point of cider in the end. To enjoy it with someone you love or care about, through conversation and company.