The Rise of Perry in North Central Washington

Pear Lovers, Take Heart: The Rise of Perry in North Central Washington

With the rise of the hard apple cider industry in the United States, there’s a new fermented fruit juice option that’s taking hold: perry. Perry is similar to an apple cider, but made with fermented pear juice instead. In the agricultural farmlands of North Central Washington, this alcoholic beverage is gaining ground after several entrepreneurial souls have decided to take on its production using local pears.

Even if its production is relatively new in the United States, perry has long roots in Europe, especially in England and France. There’s currently a contentious debate about the difference between pear cider and perry: to purists, pear cider is a made with an apple cider base with pear juice added later for flavor. This is different from traditional perry, made with 100% fermented pear juice as its base.

Although perry is similar to hard apple cider, there are subtle differences. Pears contain sorbitol, a sweetener that cannot be fermented away. Apple juice, on the other hand, can be fermented to the point of creating a completely dry cider with no apple undertones at all. As a result, perries always have a touch of the sweet undertones of pear in them, regardless of how much they’ve been fermented.

Perry makers in North Central Washington fall into several camps. Some are completely focused on making perry as their sole product. Others have added perry to their already well-established lineups of hard apple ciders.

Here are some to look for and try out:

Bad Granny Cider, a popular hard apple cider producer, is an offshoot of Karma Vineyards in Chelan. Bad Granny recently began producing “Nice Pear,” a perry made using the Méthode Champenoise that has informed all their ciders and the wines that came first.

Independent Cider in Dryden began its production of perry in the end of 2017 and has already found a loyal following of drinkers. Their flagship product is Snow Gem, an easy-to-drink straightforward perry that leaves plenty of room to taste the pears that give the drink its name. They also have an aromatic lavender perry and a Bartlett Perry. Their philosophy is minimal intervention, letting the flavors and pears speak for themselves.

The Hard Cider Shed in Cashmere has a perry in the mix, in addition to their other hard apple ciders. Their perry is made with heirloom variety pears and prepared using an English dry technique, creating a European style perry.

Pear UP is owned by two brothers using pears on the family orchard, planted by their grandfather after World War II. In addition to a straightforward perry, flavor options include Hoppin’ Pear, made with hops, watermelon and ginger pear.

Rootwood Cider in Manson took their vast knowledge of local fruits as 5th generation orchardists and added perry to their lineup of modern hard apple ciders. Their perry is made with Washington-grown pears and reflects their natural sweetness and flavor.

Snowdrift Cider in Wenatchee features a perry reserve in addition to its lineup of hard apple ciders. Their perry is made using Méthode Champenoise and old-world pear varieties to create an effervescent beverage with hints of woody tannins to accompany the dried and fresh pear flavor.

Morgan Fraser

Morgan Fraser is a North Central Washington native with a penchant for travel, interesting stories and fresh local food. After traveling the globe and living in several different countries, Morgan found the community, fresh water swimming and laid back mountain lifestyle in Leavenworth too enticing to resist. She teachers Spanish and is the author of two regional wine-pairing cookbooks and a travel memoir.

Favorite quote: "If I could tell the world just one thing it would be: we are all ok. And not to worry, because worry is wasteful and useless in times like these." -- Jewel
Favorite color: the clear blue of a glacier-fed lake or river
Favorite apple: galas, fresh off the tree first thing in the morning