Jeff Parrish, Portland Cider Company

Northwest Business with Luke Andersen
Wednesday, September 27th
Jeff Parrish tells us his jounrey to building the Portland Cider Company. Their mission is to bring hand crafted cider with English tradition to the Northwest.
00:28:44

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

910 ESPN Portland presents northwest business a weekly one hour local business wildlife. If you would like your business to be featured on north was business please call 503535035. Million point. Or email NW business said entercom.com. Now here's zeroes for northwest business Luke Anderson. It's looking Anderson thank you for download in the northwest business podcast as you know my conversation with Jeff. Here she's the founder of the Portland cider company to locations crackers and a half hour for more go to Portland cider dot com this interview originally aired April 8. Thousands of teens on 910 ESPN Portland. Jeff thanks so much for taking the time to come and talk to me on proposed business. It's great to be here thanks for having me so you are the founder of the Portland cider company you and your wife started the company in 2012. Soldiers first bottle spring of 2013. What made him kind of jump off the pier and start a senator company well you know my wife and I were both in corporate sales so I worked for a company that supplies freight liner with components have done that for almost twenty years. And she worked in the title and escrow business as an outside sales were and we were both what we felt reasonably successful at it but. The grind of working for large companies. And you know the the benefits of your hard work here really at the women that employer. And nothing's ever guaranteed. And who we wanted to. Start her own business so that our efforts. You know could be directly channeled into our own rewards. And we threw around all kinds of ID is I mean we. I come from a the family of car renders so we thought that way let's let's hope and hardware store and then we left them with tae Kim in that stark relief fund. You know all the while I was making cider and home. That a hundred gallons a year I suppose. And you we thought well you know what. Maybe you know this is the direction we need to go and I wanna say there was somewhere around 2011. And so later was just beginning to. Only saved you a little traction. Some of the original cite a reason the state such as wondering Angus based in Salem you know we would see at some farmers markets. And so we without you know this is so. This might be a placed ago. And so while I'm found that there was a commercial Sutter making course being offered by an English consultant to the cider industry. By Washington state university at their Mount Vernon extension. And so Juan. Signed up for the course. And had a chunk of money I wanna say that if we lost we wouldn't put us on the street. And so with the you know let's let's most are cautioned the winning give this ago. So you were ready making insider a whole magic it insisted to make insider you know I discovered cider. At my brother's. Bachelor party wave back in wanna say 1993. He got married in the Bay Area walked into a Trader Joe's and found forty ounce bottles. And instilled this they have no idea why they were forty ounce bottles. Of wood chuck which you can still find today that's the Vermont cider company that was not long after they started and that kind of changed my life. Because as the young man in my early twenties I still really hadn't found that. How it to appreciate beer it was just a means to an infamy at the time and but you know here's here's a bottle. That tastes like apple juice. And a bill that's got five and a half percent alcohol. And so. That's when I discovered cider and it was great but you know as you as you'll get older. A year chase him off me and the sweet. Apple leave New England style cider that they've produced. It was less appealing to me. What is the difference between the English as style cider and the New England would chuck it trend right so. English style cider is traditionally much drier. And it's made from. Apples that. They used to call spinners. Here in the states. Very bitter very sharp. Panic Apple's. Truly a bite of this. Apple. Is difficult to chew up and swallow a machine you generally would just spit it out hence the name spenders. And so suicide or. Uses those type of high ten and Apple's. And they're Jenrette generally from meant to the dry I mean truly want insider isn't carbonated its search still. And so. New England style cider. And I'm a college debt because while cider died out for the most part throughout most of the United States up a New England. Would. For example where Vermont site a which truck was based. There were still small areas where people still made in drank cider. But it was quite a bit sweeter then English style cider and the Apple's weren't nearly ten. So. We get into making cider because we couldn't find that kind of English style signer. It's your wife who helped found the the company is English correct she oh she was born and raised outside of London. In her teens moved with their family to outside of Bristol which is in the county Somerset. In western England and that is that is site or central. I would almost say it's worldwide cider central because the counties of Somerset and they're for churning wind. Are aware of the predominant. Most of the apples are grown and so lob you know drinking age and England's eighteen. Most kids start drink insider well before that for the same reason I mentioned when I was younger. It's an easier drink to transition to the spirits. It's these Irani impala I suppose. So that's what motivated us to. You know start making cider at home. Anyone just joining the program tuchman Jeff Perry she's the founder of the Portland cider company to locations there and clack commenced. There's obese true and the production facility is out there 8925. Southeast chance in Rhode. Or they have their cider centric public 28 taps. At the half or location that is 3638. SE popcorn wearing go to Portland cider dot com. A lot of businesses start this way right you can't find the product that you're looking for you go to start making federal home and then you take this. Cider. They're commercial site are crucial course. How different is cider. When you're going from small batch to the commercial package I would say the biggest difference for me was understanding. Process control. You know and it's a word in manufacturing that's commonly used in what it means is that. You you learn how to do the same thing over and over and over again and repeat it. Can you control the processes. Within your computer to your site are making operation. Home cider making as of this far simpler than making beer and home I mean literally you can take fresh apple juice. Thorn in a car boy. Put an airlock on it and just let nature do its thing there's going to be should east and that that that juice it's gonna start. Consuming sugars informant to get out. You might get a drinkable good batch or you might get something that is gonna make you sick Bryant's shirt so. So. In order to make good consistent cited you've got to have. You know understand the process do well to a consistent and so I think the biggest part of that class. Aside from. Teaching you good sensory analysis. To detect the things that can go wrong insider. It was teaching you how to. Really control decider making process and consistent way and so that's really that was all that had almost nothing to do with the actual business. Starting aside every it was really only about the cider making process and in the irony of it is I left class realizing how horrible. Side I was making really was and how lucky anything that I did make came out. Yet he says spending needs sick right why didn't up and and wanna say six minutes. It it's it's. It'll taste bad enough you're not gonna drink and you'll know when it's bad yes exactly there and out so he could see and this was an English style. Course that you took as well sooner. Learning the English style or was well I mean there's really no difference as far as that process goes on fortunately. The sensory. Aspect of it. Give us an opportunity to try and cider. Small that stuff made domestically here with English Apple's. But it down it it really was. Just about the cider making process and there's really no difference. Between decider we make here today decided dismayed and England the process is very very similar pitches from different from an ingredient exactly it's just think of it is. You know in in in the context of wine. You know you have. You have. Bordeaux grapes and you have a cabernet grapes and you have all these different varieties are grapes the wine making processes the same but the end results can Albie dramatically different. Should know so that's the easiest way to think of it so one of the things about the Portland that a company is all northwest Apple's. And talking about the kind of difference between the English style on the American stylus. All the apples you source are you able to find an English styles apples grown here in the northwestern what product are you sure unfortunately not. You know this is the best place in the entire country to make cider because at Washington State. Rose 62%. Of the US apple crop. Just massive amounts of Apple's. But these apples are all common eating varieties which is fun and Hershey store shelf. So. As a northwest cider producer in the industry in general by and large that's the true we have access to. And so what we do is. Is based upon making the most of those ingredients. I think the largest true cider apple orchard. Is in Washington but it's something on the order of fifty or sixty acres you. Whereas an average commercial orchard and be in the thousands of acres and so there's not a lot of fruit available on just to give you example. Let's say last year the Portland cider company we made them. We we made something on the order let's say you 200000 gallons a cider okay. Of that. We had a single 500 gallon batch that was cider for that's all the cider fruit we keep your hands up. Well because it's just not a lot of a grown now that's changing a minera cider Reese who have planted orchards there's more fruit being grown. But apple growers are very hesitant to put those varieties in the ground. Because it's a completely different business model for what he used to. And you know it's so wait and see approach I think because they were is the impression that this roast in the cider industry is just going to be a fat well. I think it's pretty evidence not a fan anymore but down but it's also not close to visit. Ball you move beer produced the most certainly not countries it's it's I think your craft beer with the Widmer Brothers started back in the eighties I mean by the into the eighties. Craft beer was probably still only about I'm an a couple percent of the total beer market well here import limits 25%. Well cider you know it started really wanna save five years ago it represented well less than 1% here in the Portland area and it's now 5%. And I don't think we'd ever see cider B 25%. Of the bear market which is about what it is and England which is the number one cider market in the in the world. But there there's a lot of growth still. Yeah grossed but so anyway your original question had to do any apple sorry I know where I digress the bit here. So you know we make all our cider from. That culinary varieties OK you know widely available I mean. From our perspective and unlimited supply which from a business sector that's great so you said you have six siders that are on tap. Year round you're constantly making so you're kind of baseline I would suppose. How different are those varieties which was the first on the produced. Sure how did you get to it so we produced two siders out of the gate one week called trying to draw and that was our. That was our facsimile of an English style signer it was pretty dry. And however as close as you can get with a fruit of Palin generates close and you begin with a fruit available and then we produced another. We launched with a another variety we called sort of suite three that are kind of drive and a sort of sweet. And the only difference between the two words just how much and for mended fresh apple juice was in every bought. And assorted sweet it was a nod to the fact that. Cider was unfamiliar to 90%. Or more of the buying public out there. And people think a signer in this country vast majority still think of it as something's gonna taste like apples we even urine deduction with a wood chuck was that correct exactly that way. And yeah I mean it's. If you think about in the context of wine and almost seem silly right you know pick of a glass so why are expecting it to taste like great chips now it's it's one right well but a lot of folks who were unfamiliar with cider. Because. The word cider. Means in this country also. And and filter fresh apple Jews. The expectation is it's gonna taste like Apple's so are sort of sweet. Met those expectations. From their which which direction you go in I I imagine. With the way you've set that up that you can almost eliminate the apple from illegal communities. Like a true cider know which direction do you go from short and sweet and well I'm sorry sort of sweet short service in China drive and a that's all right we we mixed it up herself at a time. Craft beer really kind of set up past. You know the great thing about the craft beer culture as it evolved. Is that there were never any boundaries. On what really constituted craft beer. You know I am and who could've been thirty years ago again who could have told you what an IPA to capture. Probably know what there's still a debate between East Coast and West Coast right exactly and you know or or or double life PA's or ward you know nimby you mentioned about fruits and in beer so. You know that laid that sort of lay that a path that cider. I think is following you know so there's no boundaries so. There's all sorts of reasons why people drink side I mean you know they are really is we sell more of our kind of dry side. Then everything else reproduce combined. Time so that's just a true. Dry English side. And that that warms my heart that that's remains our number one seller that was kind of the goal right exactly and that's why we got to know make you center in the first place. But then we make all sorts of other. For wanna say flavored siders but I don't want that to view we we use all fresh ingredients of what we do but the and you provide other herbs. Blends another flavor profiles. That trying to help make up for the Lackey complexity in the fruit that we have access to and and so the next step without well let's let's try a hop side. And you know putting hops insider was something I wanna say invented and again by U assailant side or years ago. We came up for their own spin you know so somebody you might enjoy beer. And is afraid of cider being a sweet happily drink and this is a great bridge because stars familiar flavors of familiar Roma's it's not bitter like an IPA. But it's or romantic you can tell you there's there's Hopson there that's affiliates and that was our first foray into. And then we may what's called the Perry. They siders unfamiliar to most people Perry's even more unfamiliar Perry is may from pairs a set of apples here. And so we made a true Perry where we Turco Bartlett and John vause payers. Performance at that and made kind of a dry Perry. And a lot of people would call that a pear cider but it's if it would not be true parasite animus that's part of Apple's yeah and I think that's that's. Does any get into the all right major try to Paul is right shirt so I I think most of us in the industry would say yeah up. Pear cider is somebody that fermented apple juice. And blended fresh energy senate to give its impair flavors such Perry is made from nothing prepares makes an ultimate yeah that's that's kind of what. So we did that and then it just sort of a ball from there. By the time we had those four. The business had grown and I wasn't able to do everything myself fired hired somebody to help me make cider. Somebody who was much younger than I am feet. Who was really well connected in the beer community enthusiastic and and everything from then honestly is. The result of his creative mind and and palate and it's it's been great. For anyone just joining the program we're talk we're Jeff parishes the founder of the Portland cider company. In there's two locations they have a small beast true whether production facility in clack commence a 95 southeast Janssen road. Or in Portland there on Hawthorne. 3638. South east Hawthorne. This is more of a cider centric hub. Now we were talking and I don't know if whose on air or off but you mentioned that you have about twelve siders that you Purdue right. But if 28 tap handles of cider at the Hawthorne location through a figure not afraid to highlight other producers around the northwest around the country. That are making great cider numb. A matter of fact honestly it is it is in our interest to continue to promote the category and that was. That was one of the primary motivations for opening up that pub and Hawthorne with 28 taps a site or we can showcase all the great site are being produced. And you know folks who are new decider serious about outsider you know here's a place you can go in and and I mean it'll it'll span the gamut of what's available. Yet most bars you coming into even act evenly growl or station may only have a handful assign her pubs and she recited taps. But their author location you've got in a 28. We even gonna put on an occasional read. And and an occasional beer to look at you China where Aurora but never brought him in any case but it was. Is much to promote the category is as well as our siders you know at the time. Food items to go with that as well see got a full menu and everything that you yet the Hawthorne pub is we have a limited pub and you I mean there's. Honestly her so many fantastic food options for. And Hawthorne district that you know it on it is our focus we have great pub food there and we encourage people to explore but. You know. I mean it's a tough with UNICEF and endless possible there's there's your hubby and I could I mean with that with a five iron I can probably hit at least fifty restaurants. From where we're yet so it's it's it's a line. Helena Louis works for you when she came and joined me on the sinner in the saint a few weeks ago she brought in this thing Rea that you guys have produced this is a mixed fruits cited the death yeah and what was the inspiration for that. That's kind of a nod to the industry I suppose. Most of what we had made today was. Drier styles assigned. But you know there are folks who enjoy a really fruity siders and have a little bit more fruitful were profile. And a little bit more sweetness. And we did a lot of our indeed many months trying to find something that Tenet met that fruity year profile but. Also met our expectations. We didn't want it to taste of this no we didn't want it to taste like you were by the injury can be in. And so while we came up there Syria which is a blend several different fruits and low and very blonde and hair herb. Cherry either. I am badly in Apple's not sure what it what it's all in but it's on an apple base just obtain and so. So that that's how that kind of all came about and it is delicious I'll be honest IE. Just the other night I had a spicy. Thai Currie OK and that Syria went great it sounds like you. I have two jobs right now promoting cider and then promoting the Portland cider company. You mentioned that you kind of you and your wife both got the start leaving these big corporate sales jobs. And going out on your own any advice you'd have for somebody that says pay. Cider or not I have a passion about something. I wanna go and try our take that leap what advice yeah for some sort of around business you know that the best advice I can give is is to. Plan be realistic. About in your plan. There are a number of things that made us very fortunate about what we did it I think we started the Portland cider company at the right time. But the best thing is to be very realistic find a friend. Or acquaintance who is either run a business started their own business. And just pick their brain tell them what you wanna do put a business plan together have people look at it be critical of it it's great to have a passion. But sometimes that passion can make you blind to the realities of trying to commercialize. And you know that's that's huge because. And less you've done. Lets you can do it on a part time basis. And still support yourself and your family. You're taking a massive risk. So I mean that's that was that's probably the biggest recommendation I could make it to somebody wanted to get started. Make make sure you're you have your eyes open and listen to people who aren't so emotionally vested in what they have to say and and then don't automatically dismiss. And the critical comments as well they just don't share my passion. But just talking through the site busy making you've been. Open about it that you made sure that you make insiders that people would wanna drink him in the the sort of sweet is you know not decided that you would have made necessarily is as your first one that was the the kind of drive but. With a fruit available you would have made a traditional dry cider and you've. Sounds like you've kind of push things out you know this angry if for example that the industry. And the audience for cider in Portland would go for certain type you you would be. Yeah you not be a very good business person. If you did listen to the market. And some of what we produce is the result of us listening to the market. And I would say some avoid produced two is helping to drive the market as other producers. Yes or you're right but at the same time. Everything we do produce. You know has to meet this this high threshold that we set for ourselves. As is our describe him with the same Korea. You know we we took us a long time to come up with that planned because. You know their risk characteristics of off a lot of the existing fruity signers on the market. That. You know. Didn't rep present what you know we want to. In the standards that we hole for ourselves. Believes that a red there to you want to have something that the people like but you have to be passionate about you have to believe in it too hazardous that's been kind of that balance. At what point did you feel like the poem cited company was established that that you were able to a computer feed and go hey. If this is working yeah well in its center stadium a week. Our hope was is that we could. We could both leave our jobs. By that time we turned fifty. Came so I'm gonna turn 49 this year and my wife will turn fifty. But we said roughly a five year plan is what we had we wanted to grow the business so that it could then support a family. Within five years. Well my wife was able to leave her job within six months of of us. Start in the business. Ayman that was mostly the result of the fact that we could live off of one in tough you know we we didn't live extravagantly and and beyond our means and so. But personally. I was able to to leave my job and have the business fully support ourselves. Just shortly after two years after we sold offers Spock. So that was that was way beyond her expectations. You know. Thankfully so because it was. It was getting increasingly difficult to juggle both balls that you know to do the job my employer expected of me and is also. The vote the time and attention that the business needed to continue to grow you mentioned that some cider makers were planning their and orchards and getting their own fruit it sounds like you have the idea of if you could maybe getting some of this English fruit grown in the area. So you can make that true English cider. What's next for reports that a company. Well I. I don't. We have no plans to plan our own orchards. You know we are we are cider makers we're not orchard this span and that's a completely different skill set. Sure that we know it's from day one. And I admire the folks who are doing about it it's it is it is very labor intensive job. To grow produce so many times. And Apple's especially. But. You know for from the Portland cider company. As far as the site is reproduced. I wanna say we have. We're pretty happy with the family we've got you know we've we've got a wonderful collection of a fantastic siders at appealed to all sorts of different takes. Now we will continually do one offs. I mean there are sometimes fruit just presents itself. To us whether it's somebody calling in say hey I've got 500 pounds of this sir that didn't. You know can you do something with it and mold generally think. There will figure something out that sounds pretty good not afraid of a check exactly. But. From a business perspective. We're just continuing to. Try to promote the category. And promoter brand locally trying to grow cider. As a whole as we grow on and then were in continuing to explore. Other markets seller cider into it I mean my wife and I have made trips to Korea to Australia. To Japan. And trying to. Take advantage of the cash today. And the reputation. That the Portland area has for beer and food and cider. And that's really how. Where our focus is is going through 2070. Well Jeff it's been great stock to ocean the best of luck with that thank you for coming on proposed business thanks for having it's great to be here. If you like your company to be featured on northwest business called 5035350358. Or email NW business @entercom.com.
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