The Cider Crate

Month: August 2019

By in BookReview 0

[Book Review] Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider, and the Complicated Art of Making a Living

Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider, and the Complicated Art of Making a Living
by Andy Brennan
Chelsea Green Publishing, June 2019
9781603588447

275pp
Main Subjects: Personal Memoir – American Agriculture – Wild Orchards & Cider Making
Audience: Mainly US-based; Potential Cidermakers; Potential small farm owners; those interested in pre-Modern farming and food connections.

Read and reviewed by Tan Light, August 2019
Andy Brennan is the Cidermaker and owner of Aaron Burr Cidery and the author of Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider, and the Complicated Art of Making a Living. Both charming and informative, Uncultivated follows Andy’s journey into wild cider making in New York State. The book is divided into 3 sections: the first takes a look at Andy’s love affair with wild apple trees and buying land; the second, how he developed his cider and craft; and, the third is about the cider business itself. You’ll learn more about his personal production philosophy, his triumphs and failures in trying to establish traditional orchards and a “forchard” (a forest orchard), and his deliberate choice to remain a micro business – The Aaron Burr Cider only produces about 2000 gallons each season. (A “small” operation will make close to 10x that!)
The Aaron Burr Cidery primarily produces what they call Locational Ciders, ciders made from wild apples grown in one of the 7 distinct geological bands of the local valley. Unlike a varietal cider, which focuses on using only one apple type, like Golden Russet, locational ciders focus on the distinct terroirs of his valley, so that “the drinker can then taste the ciders … and experience the trees’ acclimation (or struggle) in each location” (p212). The ciders are crafted in small batches using traditional cidermaking techniques – those that require the least intervention from the cider maker – so that the apples and terroir-related flavours are able to shine through. The cider is bottle conditioned for a slight, natural carbonation.
Andy is very connected to his land and the local trees, and believes that we should all reinvest in our own connections as well, by learning more about the foods native to our areas, natural cultivation techniques that pre-date Morden Agriculture, and the small, local businesses that can decentralize our food supply, allowing for better biodiversity. Uncultivated is full of calls to consumers and producers alike to consider what they want as the future of food and drink in North America and to spend and consume in a way that aligns with our intentions. In other words, he challenges us to put our money where our mouth is, quite literally.
As a Cider enthusiast who dreams of someday producing a little of my own, this book was as interesting and informative as it was motivating and eye-opening. There are many challenges that face craft cider makers today, and many of the cultural issues Andy describes in New York State are also faced by craft producers here, just North of the border: a similar history with prohibition disrupting the cider culture of yester-years; big beer makers jumping on, and perhaps commandeering, the cider bandwagon in the past 5 years, using economies of scale to price out the craft-maker; and, government licencing & “support” that doesn’t fully understand how Cider is different than either wine or beer making. In my opinion, any current or potential cidermaker who is looking to create a more natural cider program and/or is concerned with our Modern Agriculture practices should pick up a copy.
Or, read an excerpt on the publisher’s website.
And hey! If you are wondering what a wild apple cider program looks like in Ontario, why not check out Windswept Cider’s Lost Orchard Project
By in Event Reviews, News, Toronto Cider Fest 0

Toronto Cider Festival 2019 Recap

The 5th edition of the Toronto Cider Festival brought with it a few lovely days to sample over 30 cideries from across Ontario, Canada and France!  We were lucky enough to start the weekend off early at Her Fathers Cider Bar, joined by Niagara, Duntroon and returning, Duxbury Cider for a meet the maker and sample night.  

Barry’s Review:

Friday, a busy day personally so we were unable to make the event.  However, Saturday, here is our reviews.

In comparison to previous years, the venue filled up and a was pretty cider-drinker focused during the day-drinking session.  A lot of people were interested in chatting with the makers and learning more about their craft. We were able to chat with a few new participants and hope to have the interviews on our website shortly.  We also were lucky enough to spend time chatting with a most of the Ontario based cidery staff to see how the event was going and what is new. I’m excited that the optimism of the sector is upbeat, though still very tough to make a living at.

Barry’s Selections (In no order)

Duntroon – Black Cherry
East Street – Nature Study
Calvados – 5year Special
County – Root Beer
Ironwood – Strawberry Ciderita

Tan’s Review:

This was my second year attending the Toronto Cider Festival. The Day Drinking session of Day 2 was warm and sunny, perfect weather for cider tasting.

Tan’s Selections

If you are going to day drink, why not dive right into the barrel? I started the day at Hard Way Cider Co, with the just-launched Catawampus. Aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, with a hint of black cherry juice, at 9%abv., followed by the slightly more agreeable Ramboozle, a blend of 5 different local apples, 100% Ontario raspberries and amazing tasting notes from Caribbean Rum barrels. We circled back later in the day to discover Loco Blanco, aged in tequila barrels, was available, which was also quite nice. 

Next I took in 2 of the offerings from Ironwood: Prince Zero, a super dry cider which was nice and light in the middle of my flavour parade; and the Strawberry Ciderita, which was exactly opposite. If you’ve ever tried a can of Tempt’s No 9 cider, it’s along the same vein, though a smidge drier.

On to East Street, who really brought their flavour game. I’ve had the Watermelon Mint a few times, so I opted for the new-to-me Nature Study and Harvest Botanical. I love how East Street layers in several flavour adjuncts to give you a complex but well-balanced cider. 

Having missed the Meet the Maker event Thursday prior, I had to stop by Duxbury’s tent to try the Scumpy from their Back 50 Acres project. It’s a nice example of the style and I look forward to what comes up next.

On to Thornbury to try the Let’s Get Tropical. What a delight – juicy without being over-sweet. I really wish I’d gotten my hands on some sooner because this is a Summer cider if there ever was one, and would be killer in a sangria. 

Brickworks had a lot on offer at the festival with the new cocktail bar, but I chose just the Sour-brate.  With a base of fresh-pressed ontario apples with local blackberries, peaches and a touch of earl grey, it was a nicely balanced, medium sour cider. Hoping to find it at their Ciderhouse soon.

Finally, after picking up a sample of the rather enjoyable Berry Mint on an earlier pass, I ended the day at Forbbiden Cider, lovingly exchanging my last token for their Hopped Cider. Sour and Tart (just like me) and oh so good, it was the perfect way to end the day.

Event wise, the community based painting was really neat and homage to the Toronto Raptors.  The Flairtending, as always was spot on as was the music all weekend.  

Interviews:

Calvados Boulard

The only non Cider pouring at the Toronto Cider Fest  2019, Calvados Boulard Rep Stan Zelek chats with us about the unique apple product offered to the attendees.

Download episode Play in new window | File size: 19.8MB

Malus Cider

Malus cider, one of the new cideries on the block, sat down with Barry at the Toronto Cider Fest, 2019 to chat about how they came to be and what challenges they have faced,so far.

Download episode Play in new window | File size: 14.5MB

Hard Way Cider

Chatting with Hard Way Cider, at their first Toronto Cider Festival.  Defiantly one of cideries of the weekend at the 2019 edition.

Download episode Play in new window | File size: 11.6MB

Magnotta Cider

We talked with Magnotta briefly as the Saturday opened up at the 2019 edition of the Toronto Cider Festival.

Download episode Play in new window | File size: 4.8MB

Next years tickets are already available, happening August 28th and 29th, 2020.

By in News, Toronto Cider Fest 0

5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts for the Toronto Cider Festival – 2019

With the festival less than a week away, here is our top 5 remember to dos, and top 5 please do not do’s this list for the 2019 festival.

Do:

  1. Charge your phone in advance, and track us down when your there.
  2. Put on sunscreen, lots of it!
  3. Bring your ID! You need it at the door to get in (and your ticket too)
  4. Try to ask one of the cider makers a unique question about their product
  5. Look out for these, which we really have liked in 2019 and/or were last years big ciders:
    1. Thornbury Blueberry Elderflower
    2. Rood Apples from Creekside
    3. Anything from Shiny Cider
    4. Niagara Cider Company (New in town and WOW)
    5. County Cider Co flavoured ciders

Don’t:

  1. DRINK AND DRIVE!
  2. Try to drink all the ciders…
  3. Wear fancy shoes, it might get messy/muddy.
  4. Forget a raincoat or umbrella, it might rain
  5. Bring a pet, its not a good space for them (And well, you can’t)

You can find out more from our official preview!

Tickets are available here

Oh, and don’t forget Thursday is our special ‘Meet the cider makers’ second-annual event.  Location TBA, Watch our social media for the info on Tuesday!

By in Tours 0

Niagara – 2019 (2 Day Tour)

For our second extended tour, we are taking on the Niagara Region.  Fortune led us to the area for a wedding, so its possible to do the whole tour in a single day, however, it would be unwise to try to push it.  Enjoy our trip along the photos and interviews, as available.

 

Map of our travels:

Podcasts recorded:

Each individual page on our tours section:

 

Cidery Tour: Ironwood Cider, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (July 2019) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Shiny Cider, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (July 2019) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Niagara Cider Company, Niagara, ON (July 2019) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Niagara Teaching College, Niagara ON (July 2019) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Rood Apples, Jordan Station, ON (July 2019) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Tall Post, Hamilton, ON (July 2019) -Pictures and Podcast

Photos:

By in Food Pairing from Friends 0

Ricotta and Zucchini Crostini with Not Too Sweet Organic Cider

Makes 15

1 tbsp olive oil + extra to garnish
12 baguette slices (each ¼ inch thick)

½ cup extra-smooth ricotta
2 tbsp milk

1 garlic clove, grated or pressed
Salt and pepper

2 small zucchinis
2 tbsp liquid honey
¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Drizzle olive oil over bread. Arrange, in single layer, on rimmed baking sheet. Bake in 425°F oven until light golden and crisp, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in bowl, combine ricotta, milk, garlic and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Using peeler, peel long strands of zucchini to form ribbons. Divide ricotta mixture over crostini. Top with zucchini ribbons. Drizzle with honey and top with pine nuts. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper; and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Orchard Sangria

Ah, summer! The time of the year to go sit outside and enjoy a nice pleasant cold drink, with plenty of subtle flavours. Now, usually, I prefer sipping either sangria or a good semi-dry cider in my garden, so I figured, why not combine them both? With the nice tartness of the cider and the rich flavour of a good peach schnapps, with fresh stone fruit, this makes a perfect summer treat

Ingredients
1 473ml can of a semi-dry cider (cold)
1 oz of peach schnapps
1/2 peach or nectarine sliced, and pit removed.

Substitutions
You can sub peach brandy or liqueur if you are unable to get some

First put the fruit in the bottom of a collins or pint glass, and pour the peach schnapps over it. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, then top with the cider. Stir and enjoy

Credit to James C for the cocktail design!

By in News, Toronto Cider Fest 1

Official Toronto Cider Festival Preview – 2019

The numbers!

5 Years  —  35 Cideries — 100+ Ciders — 3 Sessions 

We are excited to come back to the Sherbourn Commons for the 5th anniversary of the largest cider festival in Canada, the legendary Toronto Cider Festival.  We will be doing photos, reviews, podcasts and social media updates all weekend long (We already gave out free passes but you can get $5 off by using the code CIDERCRATE at checkout for general admission tickets).  So feel free to track us down and say Hi!

The Lineup:

Its getting even bigger this year, with 35 confirmed cideries, and a few new ones attending for the first time!  They are bringing over 100 ciders to try (Not all in one day…..)

The Venue:

Year 1 and 2 of the festival was located downtown at Yonge/Dundas – which provided a nice bustling, metropolitan backdrop; however, the space was just too small for new and exciting expansions to be made. The move to the Sherbourne Commons two years ago was brilliant, and it offers a nice view of the Waterfront, with a lot more space for cideries and attendees alike. 

The Other Stuff

Along with a whole ton of cider, there are many other activities to keep you busy during your session:

Friday – Country Night
Live Dancing and Music, Mechanical Bull and Line Dancing

Saturday – Afternoon Party
Waterfront Day Drinking, Outfit and Live Art Showdowns, and Cover Band

Saturday – VIP Session
Intimate experience with dedicated fans and cideries, food pairing session with Lonetree Cider and El Bosco Catering delivering delicious Latin eats! 

Saturday – Night Party
Live Music, DJ’s (REALLY GOOD DJS BTW) and a Flair Bartending contest (this alone is worth going to the Sat night!)

ALL SESSIONS
Life size games, photo exhibit, passport challenge, contests, shopping, People’s Choice Awards, FUN, CIDER GALORE and THE CIDER CRATE!

Toronto Cider Festival is founded on principles of community support; promoting local farmers, local artists, and small businesses, all while remaining true to its values of sustainability and social responsibility. While growing as a business, the organization has equally grown as a contributor to the community, founding the Toronto Cider Festival Event Management Scholarship Foundation at George Brown College, developing a Student Internship program, and is an official member of the Ontario Craft Cider Association. The organization also works with companies like the TenFed Project; providing meals to hungry children around the world and encourages responsible drinking and festival attendance

Last year over 4300 people attended.

 

Tickets

  • Session 1 Country Night (Friday, August 24th 6PM – 11PM)
  • Session 1 VIP Ticket (VIP experience 5:30PM+ Friday Night Country Party 6-11PM)
  • Session 2 Waterfront Day Drinking (Saturday, August 25th 11AM – 4PM)
  • Session 3 VIP Experience (Saturday, August 25th 5-6PM + Saturday Night Party 6-11PM)
  • Session 3 Saturday Night Party (Saturday, August 25th 6PM – 11PM)

Ticket Prices – $40/ $75 (VIP) +HST & the price of drink tokens. Travel packages also available both via www.torontociderfestival.com

It great to be one of their supporting partners for this event and we hope you can find us there. You can also read our event reviews from 2016 and 2017 and 2018 to get excited! See you all there!

We are thrilled to announce we will be working with Her Fathers Cider Bar for a meet the makers event. Details to come shortly!  Happening Thursday, August 22nd in the evening.