Most modern perries made in the Pacific Northwest — think Portland Cider Company’s Pearfect or Reverend Nat’s occasional hop-infused perry — are made with dessert pear juice purchased from a commercial juicer simply because they’re not worth the effort to juice in-house, West said.
“The very first time we ever made perry, we learned our lesson,” West said. “Apples press pretty well. They grind up and have some cellular structure that locks them together…. Pears are very, very goopy. The best way to describe it is trying to squeeze the liquid out of margarine. It’s liquid, it’s wet, but it’s coming out the cracks.”
Pacific Northwest-made heritage perries are difficult to find, with only a handful of cideries growing or having access to those bitter and tannic perry pears. Finnriver Farm & Cider outside of Port Townsend, which makes a limited amount of perry yearly in addition to their award-winning cider, is home to 600 perry pear trees in four varieties.
For their perry, which cider maker Andrew Byers said typically flies off the shelf since they started making it five years ago, Finnriver presses fruit from their own orchards, as well as other face-puckering pears plucked from old, gnarled pear trees from nearby farms.
“Perry is the jewel of the cider diaspora,” Byers said. “It’s time consuming to grow, fickle to produce and just lovely when it comes out.”