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The South Sound's tastiest ciders for fall drinking

Skip the beer and delve into a sweeter brew

Fall beer is always fun, but a better drink this fall is cider. Photo courtesy Dragon's Head Cider

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Much ink has been spilled over the Northwest's amazing craft brewery scene during the past few years. In the Tacoma area specifically, groups like Wingman and 7 Seas have seen their profiles raised significantly. However, just like the Jacksons, there might be another rising star lurking in the local brewing scene. If craft beer joints are Michael, then ciders may just be Janet: equally talented and a force in her own right. The South Sound features many fantastic ciders that are perfect when you need a break from your IPA or lager.

1) Cockrell Brewing (Puyallup)
This local farm has been used for brewing for more than 25 years, and the Cockrell brothers have really focused on creating fantastic ciders. Using apples grown right on their own land in the Puyallup valley, they've created a whole fleet of uniquely flavored ciders. There's the classic, of course, but why limit yourself when you can try a cider infused with raspberry and habanero, or one that's brewed with hops like a traditional beer? You can even use Airbnb to stay at "the Farmhouse" and peruse the orchards and tasting room, or just visit it on a day trip. Either way, Cockrell proves that farmers can make killer drinks along with killer produce.

Cockrell Brewing, 6613 114th Ave. Ct. E., Puyallup, 253.905.5800,

2) Dragon's Head Cider (Vashon Island)

Yes, even the semi-remote Vashon has its own top-notch brewery. Dragon's Head was founded just six years ago on the island, and it's already expanded its reach to Oregon and California. Like Cockrell, it limits itself to locally grown apples. You can taste the quality and find its beverages at many local stores. Still, if you're willing to pay for the ferry, you can taste the nectar right at the source in the Vashon tasting room. Trust us, it's absolutely worth the journey.

Dragon's Head Cider, 18201 107th Ave. SW, Vashon, 206.724.3723,

3) Tilted Tree (Tacoma)
Tilted Tree is also quite new to the scene, and it only began to bottle its product in 2015. Its apples aren't quite as close to the source as Cockrell or Dragon's Head, which only makes sense, as there aren't many orchards in the middle of Hilltop. Still, it does keep things in-state by partnering with the Mortimer Farm in Naches, near Yakima. It has also tried some distinctive flavors beyond the apple, such as blueberry, cherry, and a ginger-honey combination in the Austin Powers-referencing Oh Ginger, Bee-Have. Although Tilted Tree doesn't have a tasting room yet, its cider can be found on tap or in bottles throughout the South Sound and Seattle. Visit for details.

4) Schilling (Auburn/Seattle)
We might be cheating on this one, seeing as it's partially based in Seattle, but its tasting room is in Auburn, so it stays. If exotic cider is your thing, Schilling might be right up your alley. Sure, it uses different fruits, too, like pomegranate and rhubarb, but when was the last time you've heard of a coffee-tinged cider? Yes, the Grumpy Bear Nitro mixes cold brew coffee with traditional apple cider, which gives you both the buzz of alcohol and the kick of caffeine. If you're more of an interactive type of person, Schilling even offers a cider-making class in Seattle. Who knows, maybe your brewing skills are on par with their experts.

Schilling Cider, 4402 D St. NW #101, Auburn, 253.269.6095,

5) Whitewood (Olympia)
Whitewood lays claim to the title of the "South Puget Sound's first cider brewery," and it emphasizes an old-school approach to brewing. It makes sure to produce cider seasonally by waiting until fall, when the apples are at their most ripe, then letting the juices ferment through the winter and early spring. Right now, it keeps things basic by offering only two permanent ciders on tap: the Old Fangled, which packs a punch with a 6.7% ABV, stronger than most ciders; and the simple Red Cap. If you just need no-frills, high-quality cider, Whitewood is the prime choice.

Whitewood Cider Co., 6227 Rich Road SE, Unit B, Olympia, 360.705.8202,

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