Living in small town Bend, it seems like everyone knows everyone, and you certainly run into someone you know just about everywhere you go. So it was no surprise when my daughter started Kindergarten and one of her little classmates was named “Atlas”. Coincidence? I think not. I was sure he was the son of the owner’s of ATLAS Cider, but I didn’t want to be a stalker. So, I waited patiently and got to know Sam & Dan McCoy through various field trips and classroom parties. Of course, once I got to know them a little better, I felt comfortable asking my burning question ~ “Which came first, the kid or the cider?”
Short answer…the kid! ATLAS Cider is named after their son, although they also loved the idea of the “Atlas” holding up the apple (world) which is predominately displayed on their delicious ATLAS cider labels.
With two younger daughters arriving during the birth and early growth of the company, Sam will tell you she feels a little guilty at times that Atlas gets so much of the attention. Arden and Vayle are Atlas’ younger sisters. As the girls get older, I bet Sam & Dan will start feeling the pressure to come up with something cool to name after them too!
All right, don’t laugh, but when we moved here, the only cider I had really ever heard of was the Angry Orchard brand. Moving to Beer Town USA for this wine lover was a hard pill to swallow. In the beginning, I was the dork that ordered wine at the brewery and everyone looked at me like I had three heads. Lucky for me, I quickly discovered ATLAS Cider and it was definitely a more acceptable drink amongst all the Bend beer lovers. Yes, I will go so far as to say ATLAS Cider saved me when I was new to town. This “Winery with a Mohawk” is the BEST drink in Bend to help a wine drinker transition into Beer Town USA.
It is no surprise that I had my first ATLAS Cider and never looked back. With so many delicious flavors to choose from, there is a tasty cider beverage for everyone. Or you could just continuously mix it up which is what we like to do! Currently ATLAS varieties available in bottles and kegs are: Apple, Blackberry (#1 Seller), Apricot (Sam’s favorite), and Pomegranate-Cherry. Dragonfruit is ATLAS’ seasonal available in kegs and bottles as well.It is definitely one of our favorites and the perfect summer beverage. We wouldn’t dream of going to the lake without a cooler filled with Dragonfruit!
ATLAS also offers Sessions cans that are 12oz in a crisp, classic apple. Be on the lookout for their newest flavor ~ Pineapple Mango which is due to be released within the next few weeks! It will be available in 22oz bottles in stores and on draft in their tasting rooms and at bars & restaurants…just in time for summer! Don’t forget to follow ATLAS Cider on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to know about new products, promotions and events.
Since ATLAS Cider is so wildly popular here in Bend and I’ve gotten to know Sam & Dan a bit, I became curious about the beginning of ATLAS Cider. What was their inspiration, their story? After chatting with them about their roots, it inspired me to expand and feature other Bend favorites ~ restaurants, food trucks, products, etc. Not just a general write up on the blog, but the backstory, the journey, the dream that makes these local favorites what they are today. This spawned a new and upcoming series for Living the Bend Life. Look for future articles under the new “Bend Favorites” tab, with ATLAS Cider being our first featured Bend business.
Now let’s get back to ATLAS Cider and their story…Sam started drinking cider while studying abroad in England where she worked at her University pub. She introduced Dan to her beloved beverage during a backpacking trip through Europe in 2003. When they moved to Bend and found it difficult to find ciders they enjoyed, they started making their own as a hobby. They were both teaching at the time and couldn’t figure out why anyone in “Beer Town USA” wasn’t making cider yet. “We started daydreaming about this business on a road trip and before you knew it Dan was enrolled in a Cider making course through the University of Washington’s Agricultural Dept. to study the fermentation of fruits. He went to work to gain the knowledge necessary to produce a local craft cider. From learning about tree varieties to the biological process of fermentation, he found it all fascinating. He came back excited and energized and we decided to go for it. The next year was devoted to traveling throughout Oregon and Washington meeting and partnering with farmers, testing their products as ciders, and finally selecting local providers who could meet our needs.”
ATLAS Cider was founded in October 2012, and just over six months later, they opened their tasting room doors and started distributing in May 2013. In the beginning they were self distributing to local stores, restaurants and bars. However, they were quickly picked up by a distributor, and ATLAS Cider is now available in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and South Dakota. They will also be moving in to Montana, Alaska, and possibly California soon. In addition to their fast paced growth here in the states, they also have a distributor who brings ATLAS Cider to Japan!
“We opened our original tasting room at the production facility on 9th and Wilson in May 2013. The space was small with only enough room for one table.”
“Once we got our feet under ourselves we decided we needed to have a space where people could sit, hang out and have a few pints…like at my favorite English pubs.” In June 2015 that dream became a reality when they opened their ever popular ATLAS tasting room at 550 SW Industrial Way.
All of their delicious cider varieties are available in their tasting room as well as local beers on tap. Feeling adventurous? Try a blend of cider and beer, just ask the bartender for a paring recommendation. Or try my personal favorite, which is a mix of Dragonfruit and Deshcutes Fresh Squeezed.
This location is a Bend staple known as a great place to unwind with a drink and a game of pool or corn hole, grab a bite to eat at one of the food trucks parked nearby, or make a night of it during one of their featured movie or trivia nights!
This past March ATLAS Cider expanded into Portland with their pop-up-tasting room in Washington Square Mall, and hope to have another PDX location open by the end of the year.
To celebrate their anniversary last year, ATLAS Cider had a huge blow-out carnival style block party. They plan to continue the tradition and hope to make it an annual event. Save the date June 2 & 3 in celebration of ATLAS turning 4! This is the Party of the Year and Bend’s one and only carnival featuring an 80 FT Ferris Wheel, ZIPPER, High Flying Swings, bounce houses, food carts, ice cream, ATLAS’ new PINEAPPLE-MANGO Cider, local beer, and more. This party will have live music featuring MEEKOH and Portland’s DJ R+E. Don’t miss it…Noon to 11pm FRI and SAT. Bring the kids for a day of family fun, but also be sure to book a sitter and experience this party at night as the DJ gets pumping and the party really begins!
Hope to see you there with ATLAS Cider in hand…Living the Bend Life!