Far West Cider Smells Like Victory

As should be quite clear by now, I love me a good cider and the surge in the craft cider movement has made me quite happy. In my pursuit of a good cider, and my chronic need to catch ’em all on Untappd, some of our more recent vacations have taken on an added planning detail of determining the options for local ciders, and Steve and I have made a few weekend field trips in the Bay Area. I am apparently not alone in my love of cider, and my cider bragging on Facebook has led to some local friends expressing their interest in joining us for a cider tasting day.

As these comments became more frequent from a wider group of friends, I decided to move on to the Cider Promoter phase of my journey and have scheduled a couple of cider tasting days for a small group of friends at some local cideries. The first of these was last weekend, when we drove out to Richmond for an afternoon sampling libations from Far West Cider Company at Riggers Loft Wine Company.

The venue is not intuitive to get to, and if you are relying on your car’s GPS, you may be told you have arrived at your destination several minutes before you actually do. The tasting room is in a converted warehouse right by the Port of Richmond, and there is a large parking lot where cars shipped into the port are parked before being sent to dealerships. You have to circle around this lot, driving along the shore until you finally end up across the lot where you started, then continue a bit further to the warehouse. There is signage is one drives slowly enough to see it. . .

The major landmark is the Red Oak Victory, which is moored directly across from the tasting room. This WWII cargo ship is the last surviving ship built in the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards during World War II, and is part of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Once you get here, you have arrived. This awesome photo was taken by Adrianne, one of our friends and most awesome cat sitter ever.

Red Oak Victory ship, photo by Adrianne Gyurcsik

Red Oak Victory ship, photo by Adrianne Gyurcsik

When we were there, a pair of ospreys had built a nest high atop the crane next to the ship, and the tasting room had set-up a big screen tv that streamed the live events of the nest. There was always one osprey on the nest, and we saw the parents switch positions at least once during the day. At one point, as one of the osprey sat on the nest, you could see the other taking a break perched way out on the other end of the crane’s boom. Here are the two parents trading places.

osprey pair on nest

But onto the cider. Far West Cider Co. shares the space with three wineries and there are a variety of flight options available: reds, whites, or a mix of wine and cider were on the menu. Fortunately, they were more than willing to accommodate a request for a cider-only flight.

flight of cider

There were four ciders available that afternoon, and I enjoyed them all, though to varying degrees, of course:

  • Proper Dry 3 – This one was super dry, but not at all bitter like so many that call themselves dry can be. I liked this one surprisingly well and even ordered a full glass of it for my first post-flight beverage.
  • OB Amarillo Cider – In fairness to the hopped ciders, I just don’t like hops very much, so I’m never going to be able to say I love a hopped cider, and my reviews will always reflect this bias. That said, this cider is very lightly hopped. I didn’t find it to be off-putting, and I enjoyed it more than most any other hopped cider I’ve had. This one is also rather dry.
  • Pink Cascade Cider – Another hopped cider, this one made of Pink Lady apples. It has a stronger hops presence than the first, so it was my least favorite. The cider itself was dry and not sweet, but it, too, avoided falling into a bitter trap.
  • Orchard Blend #1 – This was the only semi sweet variety available that day. It was crisp and refreshing, and was the second full glass I had post-flight.

There was live music in the afternoon, as there often is, which was very nice to listen to, but the open warehouse setting made the acoustics more challenging for conversation when they were playing. We managed, though. There is a semi-permanent food truck by Paul’s Street Eats that pulls up to a loading dock in the back; Steve and I shared an incredibly tasty cheeseburger and a side of corn fritters to buffer against the cider. They also serve paella and smoked salmon or tri-tip tacos.

Everyone seemed to have fun and enjoy the cider. All in all, I think it was a very successful first shared cider-tasting field trip. I know Steve and I are planning to head back for the scenic drive around the port. I’m on the Far West mailing list now, so I’ll know when they have something new and interesting on-tap.

The next cider field trip is already scheduled for August and I really can’t wait to continue my cider evangelism with a group of friends who are just damn fun to hang out with!

photograph by

view of SF from Riggers Loft, photo by Adrianne Gyurcsik