Christopher “CJ” Powell, co-owner and head cider maker of Misfit Island Cider Co., fell in love with English dry cider while deejaying in London. (Kira Erickson / South Whidbey Record)

Christopher “CJ” Powell, co-owner and head cider maker of Misfit Island Cider Co., fell in love with English dry cider while deejaying in London. (Kira Erickson / South Whidbey Record)

Dry British ciders inspire Whidbey deejay to create his own

After deejaying in London, a Langley cider maker is branching out with Misfit Island Cider Co.

A Whidbey Island hard cider maker is hoping to show that sweeter is not always better.

While deejaying in London, Christopher “CJ” Powell learned to appreciate a drier type of cider.

Not much of a beer drinker but fond of London’s pub culture, Powell fell in love with English dry cider. This type of cider, he explained, is characterized by its lower sugar content.

Back in the states, Powell, now 41, sought out cider that was similar to what he had enjoyed across the pond. But it wasn’t a very fruitful search.

“There’s this misconception that Americans just like sweet cider,” Powell said. “I couldn’t find the cider I liked, so I decided I would just try to make it.”

He and his wife, Anna, established Misfit Island Cider Co. near Langley about two years ago.

But the Powells have been fermenting cider for much longer than that. After retiring as a deejay, CJ set up shop in their basement, sourcing juice from local stores and trying different styles, mixtures, yeasts and apples.

The cidery has branched out within the last year because Powell has found more time to focus on his cider craft.

“The whole COVID thing motivated me to step up what I was doing,” he said. “I kind of had a much longer time frame to do this all.”

The couple have planted 15 different varieties of trees, which produce apples used in French and English ciders. They hope to plant 150 trees total.

For now, CJ makes his cider with community-sourced apples while the trees grow. Anna helps out wherever she can, including at pop-up markets on the island.

In some of his ciders, Powell uses fresh hops, which are from Perrault Farms near Yakima. He encourages beer drinkers to try his hard cider, because the taste of the hops isn’t muddled by other flavors.

Misfit Island Cider Co.’s newest flavor, which is a coffee cider, is a collaboration with Mukilteo Coffee Roasters.

Powell added 25 pounds of coffee beans to the cider two weeks before bottling it, and added lactose sugar — which is unfermentable and gives the cider a creamy texture — a few days before bottling. Upon first sip, it’s similar in taste to a stout beer, but after a few moments it evolves into something more acidic and similar to a cider.

If the words “dry cider” makes those with a sweet tooth out there cringe — not to worry. Misfit Island’s ciders are palatable without being overly bitter.

Powell explained that he tries to use several different yeast strains in the cider-making process. He has always admired the potential for experimentation in microbreweries, and has been doing the same with his microcidery.

A nod to his career as “CJ the DJ,” the ciders are all infused with reggae.

“There is a lot of study around live organisms and positive music helping with its overall growth,” Powell said. “During all primary fermentation of any of my batches I play loud reggae out here for the first week and a half.”

The cider is aged for three to eight months, depending on its kind, in Powell’s garage that he hopes to turn into a tasting room when COVID-19 isn’t an issue anymore.

Powell is self-taught, but that hasn’t stopped him from mastering the craft.

“It’s been very scary, for sure, because I don’t really know what I’m doing and whether I’m doing it right,” he said, “but I read a lot and try to get as much information as possible, and practice makes perfect.”

Powell ended his record label and deejay career and moved back to Washington around eight years ago.

Originally from Port Orchard, CJ and Anna wanted to find their forever home. When they visited Whidbey, they fell in love with the island. At 6 acres, their property near Langley is a large enough space to house a cidery and an orchard.

The Powells both telecommute for their jobs. CJ leads an information technology team, while Anna is a pet insurance claims specialist. But their plan is to have Misfit Island make enough of a profit in the future to allow husband and wife to make hard cider full time.

Misfit Island’s cider is available at the Bayview Taproom in Langley, the Penn Cove Taproom in Coupeville and Oak Harbor and the Greenbank Farm in Greenbank, as well as several Whidbey Island restaurants. Bottles, which are 22 ounces, range in price from $10 to $12 and are available for purchase.

To fill a growler or to schedule a private tasting, email

The Powells said Misfit Island Cider Co. is planning to start a cider club — similar in idea to a wine club — soon.

If you go

While Misfit Island Cider Co., 2990 Quigley Road, Langley, doesn’t have a taproom, the company does offer private tastings and growler fills by reservation only. Email or go to for more information.

Talk to us

More in Life

Nathan Welton/ Dreamtime Images
Photographer David Welton’s work has appeared in the South Whidbey Record and The Daily Herald.
The camera is Whidbey Island man’s second calling

After retiring from a career in medicine, David Welton of Langley focuses on his first love: photography

When battling a summer cold, a quick trip to the drugstore and a painless test to rule out Covid helps provide peace of mind. (Jennifer Bardsley)
When you get a cold even though you’re still wearing a mask

She stocked up on over-the-counter medicine at Walgreens after getting a drive-thru COVID-19 test.

How to cope with pandemic letdown in face of delta variant

It’s not over until it’s over. The whole world is still dealing with a COVID-19. It is OK to be disappointed and sad.

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam sell marijuana.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Dutch Tolerance: Red lights and pot shops

Amsterdam is a laboratory of progressive living, bottled inside Europe’s finest 17th-century… Continue reading

What should she do about expired flight credit on Expedia?

When Heidi Edmonds tries to use her Expedia flight credit to book a flight from New York to Dublin, Ireland, she finds her luck has run out. The vouchers are expired. But whose fault is that?

Sugar beets with fresh leaves in the garden. The Red Veined Leaves of Beetroot (Beta vulgaris).
Love it or leave it: The gardener’s to-do list for August

If you do this month’s chores, you’ll no longer be referred to as a “yardener,” or a casual gardener.

The 13-inch-high antique wooden San Rafael figure with wings and holding a staff and a fish sold at a Cottone auction for $9,600. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Wooden figure of San Rafael the Archangel made circa 1763

Fra Andreas Garcia, an 18th-century Mexican Franciscan friar and folk artist, carved and painted the figurine.

"Blackadder" hummingbird mint features flower spikes of dark red-purple peppered with tiny mauve blooms. (Rick Peterson)
Great Plant Pick: Agastache ‘Blackadder,’ giant hyssop, hummingbird mint

The highlight of this clumping perennial are the flower spikes of dark red-purple peppered with tiny mauve blooms.

Everett indie rockers Moondoggies will perform for A Dick's Drive-In Summer Series at Wetmore Theatre Plaza on Aug. 6. (Jason Neuerburg)
Get ready to rock ‘n’ roll outdoors in Everett this August

The events Music at the Marina and Dicks Drive-In Summer Series have eight outdoor shows set through August between the two of them.

Most Read