Though the “Reverend” part is slightly tongue-in- cheek, Nat West is absolutely serious about spreading the gospel about hard cider.
It all started in 2004 with an unknown variety of apple being grown in a neighbor’s yard, a bountiful harvest, and a cider experiment in the basement. He has never looked back. West says cider is “the apple’s deepest purpose realized,” and has spent the intervening years experimenting, perfecting and educating people about its many glories.
A craft beer enthusiast in a city full of craft beer enthusiasts, West experimented with beer yeasts and different kinds of fermentations and now uses beer yeasts almost exclusively, setting his apart from the other ciders being made. He says that sometimes a knowledgeable beer drinker or maker will try his cider and say ‘isn’t that…?’ naming the precise yeast he’s used. West is happy when that happens, a sign that others are picking up on the uniqueness of his product. He has found that talking about cider is indeed much the same as talking about beer; the two are closely aligned on people’s palates, which is why an increasing number of bars and taverns have a hard cider on tap or in bottles along with their beers. “It’s cool to drink cider in a beer bar, now,” says West.
Another key thing that sets Reverend Nat’s apart is West’s continuous experimentation with different flavors and ingredients. He maintains a consistent handful of always-available ciders; and then there are small batch trials that change according to the produce of the season, a suggestion from friend or fan, or West’s mood or whim. But he is first and foremost dedicated to the highest quality and great tasting product that he can create. “We want to matter; to be a significant part of the conversation about cider.”
For West, cider is a community builder. He credits the generosity of other brewers and mobile services that have loaned or rented him equipment from time to time; “necessary for small production” businesses that couldn’t afford to purchase nor house equipment that is sometimes only needed during the busier times of the year. He loves the cooperative environment that he finds here in Portland. “The more I travel…I see a community as an economic circle…a solution to a lot of problems.” His growing number of devoted fans is an important part of that circle,
West loves talking about cider, first and foremost: “Storytelling is just as awesome as a great liquid.” Visit his website and you’ll see what he means: www.reverendnatshardcider.com