Ashley LodatoBy Ashley Lodato

It’s seemingly constant news that the Old Schoolhouse Brewery and Laurelstein beers are always winning awards (but rest assured I will let you know every time I hear of another one), and now it comes as no surprise that the Methow Valley Cider House is raking in the accolades. Richard and Lynne Wasson recently received news that three of their ciders won silver medals in the GLINTCAP (Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition) contest in St. Johns, Mich. (Perry — for those of you who, like me, did not know — is pear cider.)

GLINTCAP is the largest such contest in North America and is a nonprofit that exists to promote apple and pear beverages. The three winners were Honey Bear, Eagle Screeching Scrumpy, and Howling Wolf.

Richard reports that Honey Bear (which took silver in the Cyser division, for mead-like beverages) was back-sweetened (done after fermentation) with honey harvested by Don and Mary McIvor.

Howling Wolf (which medaled in the Wood Aged Cider & Perry class), Rich’s favorite, was wood-flavored by French Oak adjuncts (1-inch wood cubes in stainless steel perforated tubes inserted into 300-gallon fermentation tanks and “hopped” with Cascade hops grown right on the side of the ciderhouse).

The Eagle Screechin’ Scrumpy (second in the New World Cider category) includes the bitter fruit quince to give it a mouth-drying astringency. Bluebird Grain Farms farmer Sam Lucy encouraged Richard to try the quince and the result is, in Richard’s words, “eye-popping.” In a good way, we assume.

The Cider House is opening in time for the Winthrop ’49er Days celebration and welcomes locals and visitors alike to come sample its award-winning ciders.

If you’re planning to go on a cider-sampling rampage, you might as well start working in earnest now. A fun social opportunity for exercise and personal challenge exists through the new Lewis Butte Weekly Hill Climb Series, which begins today (April 2). The brainchild of Brian and Amy Sweet, the goal of the hill climb series is to foster camaraderie and get as many people out on the trail as possible. The Sweets participated in something similar in their recent former home of New Hampshire and met so many people and had such a good time that they wanted to replicate it in the Methow.

Every Wednesday through May 21, hikers and runners park at Riser Lake on the Gunn Ranch Road and complete the Lewis Butte loop, which is about two miles with 1,000 feet of climbing (and subsequent descent). You start any time between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. The Sweets will keep track of your time, and at the end of the series you can celebrate what is sure to be an improvement in fitness and results. All are welcome. For more information contact Brian Sweet at 996-7675 or