By LESLEY MCLAM
There is more to the story of Cider Riot! than just the sensational headlines: it’s an owner’s dream, features local flavors, and has established a reputation as a hub for community events and fundraising for progressive causes.
Cider Riot! is located on 8th Avenue & NE Couch Atreet in the busy Burnside Bridgehead area of Southeast Portland. It boasts a cozy open bar area with a variety of flavors on tap and a few rooms off to the side decorated in eclectic themes, much in the style of some McMenamins.
And right now, this piece of Portland’s modern history, is up for sale.
According to Willamette Week, the going price for this high-profile location is “listed on Pro Brewer for $875,000”. Officially the brewery is listed for sale at $700,00 and the Cider Riot! Name and intellectual property is an additional $175,000.
The owner, Abram Goldman-Armstrong, is hoping to garner a lot of interest from buyers who want to keep the Cider Riot! name and operation together and as-is. But also, from buyers who share similar views on human rights, suggesting that the “other investors may not feel comfortable selling to someone who does not believe in equal rights for all humans.”
Less than two blocks from the cidery’s busy location, and next to the popular Doug Fir Lounge, is volunteer-driven and community supported KBOO Radio. An episode of Free Culture Radio titled “Politics and the Public House“, which aired September 18th and is available online, featured Goldman-Armstrong.
He reminisced about growing up on a cider farm in Yamhill County, learning the process of extracting the precious juices from apples, and the importance of yeast selection in creating a successful cider.
Armstrong would love to find a buyer for the cidery who is as passionate about cider-making as he is; fantasizing about the possibility of staying on as a cider maker if the right person steps in.
The name Cider Riot! was dreamed up by Goldman-Armstrong to honor the 1763 revolt against a new tax on cider in England. The name also embraces both the magical flavors that cider can have as well as the challenges they inspire.
The cidery began in 2013 and expanded in 2016 to it’s current production-making capacity of up to 5,000 barrels of cider per year, although the owner says that he has “yet to see a year pass the 1,000 barrel mark”.
Armstrong says he has been searching for investors on the ‘down-low’ for the past several years, in order to help increase production, distribution, and marketing, but hasn’t been able to yet discover any new viable options to keep the cidery productive for investors except for listing it for sale.
Some of the notable flavors from this cidery are:
- Everyday semi-dry cider [6% ABV] – available on-location on-tap and in cans at Plaid Pantries and many other stores.
- Tres Flechas (or The Three Arrows) – The Cider Riot website states: “In solidarity with resistance to the MLS ban on the Iron Front symbol, Cider Riot! will be donating a portion of sales to Portland’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.” The Iron Front symbol contains three arrows.
- BurnCider [6.3% ABV] – 2014 Silver Medal winner of the Portland International Cider Cup. From the website: “Inspired by the pub draught ciders of the English West Country, Burncider blends Oregon-grown traditional English cider apples, tart wild apples and dessert apples from Hood River.”
Cider Riot has made recent headlines due to the incident with right-wing nationalist Joey Gibson, local leader of the Patriot Prayer. Gibson planned a brawl at the establishment, on May 1st, causing the owner to file a lawsuit against Gibson for inciting the spectacle. Video evidence entered into the lawsuit shows Gibson’s group planning to single out the location due to the concept that folks who hate anti-fascism sometimes go there.
Goldman-Armstrong has been fairly vocal about his personal beliefs regarding racist and fascist behavior, while also expressing that this politically charged drama around the May Day riot and ensuing lawsuit is not the factor motivating the sale of the Cidery. In a quote to the Mercury, Armstrong said, “The City of Portland’s permit office is more of a threat to business than a bunch of Nazi trolls.”
During the five-month-long wait to receive the permits for construction, Armstrong still had to pay the City $10,000 per month in space rental costs. Expenses incurred during such lengthy waits for permitting have added to the cidery’s inability to increase production and distribution over the past several years, creating a debt that was difficult to catch up on.
However, Abram Goldman-Armstrong remains hopeful. With the increasing popularity of local breweries using locally sourced ingredients becoming more mainstream than a trend, He believes there is a real future for whomever decides to purchase the Cider Riot! brewery and brand.
Lesley McLam is completing her second degree at Portland Community College, studying journalism and communications. She’s the proud mama of a beautiful 14-year-old black cat, and a volunteer anchor, copywriter, reporter, and occasional producer at KBOO community radio who is just beginning to learn about the world of podcasting.
Connect with Lesley: