Feb 18, 2015

Cider Summit 2015

A few weekends ago, I ignored the fact that I tend to dislike cider and went on my second annual trip to the Cider Summit. Cider Summit is a yearly cider tasting event that happens at Navy Pier. Hosted by SBS Imports and the Seattle Beer Collective, Cider Summit featured over 150 ciders from all around the world.

The huge downside of Cider Summit for me (other than the fact that it's not a beer summit) is that it's hosted at Navy Pier. Due to some pretty unpleasant work functions that I've had to attend there, coupled with my dislike for large crowds of tourists and screaming children, Navy Pier is one of my least favorite places to visit. Only good friends and alcohol can entice me.

In 2014, Cider Summit took place in Lakeview Terrace, which made it a nightmare to navigate because it got so crowded. This year they moved Cider Summit to the Grand Ballroom, which helped crowd control immensely. Still packed, but there was definitely room to walk and stand around....and people watch the very interesting crowd that this event attracts.
Two of the weirdos at Cider Summit

The premise of Cider Summit is that you pay $30 for admission, which comes with 8 tasting tickets and a complimentary tasting glass. You can buy additional tasting tickets for $2 each. With dozens of stands to choose from, my friends and I decided that 8 tasting tickets were not enough and bought a few extra. We also didn't anticipate receiving extra tickets from a stranger who was leaving early...which went well with my empty stomach.

Perhaps because of the gallon of cider that I drank, I didn't pay the most attention to the ciders that I was drinking. In fact, I should have been more like the other people there and written tasting notes in the booklet that was provided...just kidding, I would never do that. Instead, I will only be able to provide a very limited overview of the ciders presented.

Overall, I would give my Cider Summit experience 3 out of 5 apples. It was good, but I wasn't blown away by anything - with my unrefined cider palate, a lot of them tasted the same to me. Some of the ciders were quite tasty - a cherry cider and dry hopped cider were my favorites - but, cider is way too sweet for me to enjoy/consume in large quantities. I would also never, ever recommend drinking cider that is made in gin barrels. It's an interesting concept, but the cider tasted more like drinking a bouquet of flowers than it resembled gin. There were also a few other less than palatable ciders, but, fortunately, for those cider producers I cannot remember where they came from!


One of the good ones! Image via

If you like cider, I would definitely recommend this event. Not only are there a lot of cideries, but all of the cider producers are super knowledgeable about their products and friendly. The booths I visited did their best to make sure that us cider amateurs were happy with our selections - even asking us what we generally preferred to drink and then trying to find a cider to match. While, I don't appreciate cider, I did appreciate the great customer service. I'm sure a true cider connoisseur would have appreciated all the choices there...I will have them write this post next year.

While cider and Navy Pier are not two of my favorite things, I do love to drink socially and hang out with friends. Because winter in Chicago will continue to be bleak and offer few fun things to do, I'll probably go again next year.

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