The Cider Crate

Author: Barry

By in Event Reviews, Tours 0

RECAP: Simcoe U of Guelph Apple and Cider Research (Aug 26 2018)

Being a part of the OCCA, we were lucky enough to learn about the research that the University of Guelph is doing to more efficiently grow and harvest apples for cider production.   So after a weekend of cider (Our event with Duxbury at Cider House in Toronto and the Toronto Cider Festival) we took the trip to Simcoe – along with about 75 others – to learn what research was going on in the area.

The Basics:

There are a handful of researchers working on various parts of the cider process.  Simcoe is one of 4 designated areas in Ontario which have special apple growing trees, planted a few years ago, finally starting to bare fruit the last 2 years.

The day started with talks on scientific research regarding apple growing, apple varieties and more. It progressed to talks from Gregory Peck from Cornell University about cider growing and the US cider industry; as well as a talk from Richard Liu – president of the OCCA – on the state of craft cider in Ontario. We even got an introduction on the work being done on yeasts and fermenting processes from the Escarpment Labs in Guelph.

Many cideries, apple growers, agricultural consultants and more were in attendance this day. Its wonderful to see people from all aspects of the cider community come together to learn and chat about how to make cider a better beverage for you to consume.

We ended the session at Bonnieheath Estates down the road from the research station, for some sampling of their 2 flagship, year-round ciders, and to learn about their unique history as a farm.

 

We are happy to speak directly if anyone has questions about it.

By in Event Reviews, News, Toronto Cider Fest 0

Toronto Cider Festival 2018 Recap

We had an amazing time over two days at this year’s Toronto Cider Festival.  You can catch the photos and the Podcast here.  Below are a few highlights as we head off to Spain and Portugal for a bit of cider out that way.  Thanks once again to Shalini, Chris, The Event Professor, and all the people (including cideries who always make us feel at home talking and sampling) who were involved with this years festival.  It’s such a positive community

~Barry and Bethany

The Cider Crate Top 10 Ciders of TO Cider Festival 2018

In no particular order….

  • Sulkers Cider – Sangria
  • Ernest Cider – Pamplemousse
  • East Street Cider – Watermelon Mint
  • Duntroon Cyder – Raindance Rhubarb Infused Cider
  • Shiny Cider – Bootleg Whisky Cider
  • County Cider – Lychee Pear
  • Thornbury – Wild Blueberry Elderflower Cider
  • Heritage Estates – Heirloom
  • Great Cider – Iced Cider
  • Duxbury – Barrel-Aged Haskap Cider

The Cider Crate Top Festival Choices

Breakout CideryEast Street Cider Co

Best Returning CideryCounty Cider Co.

Cidery to Watch for Next YearDuntroon Cyder

Best MomentThe Incredible Flair Bartending

Most kick-ass Moment – People dancing in the torrential rain during the Saturday Day Session

Worst Moment – The hangovers The Cider Crate had on Day 2

Best Entertainment – DJ D-Smooth

Special Cider Fan Shout-Out – Meeting the awesome Toronto Cider Girls

 

By in News, Toronto Cider Fest 0

5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts for the Toronto Cider Festival – 2018

With the festival just a few hours away, here is our top 5 remember to do, and top 5 please do not do this list for the 2018 festival.

Do:

  1. Put on sunscreen, lots of it! But also prepare for rain, looks like it could be poor on Saturday (Rain jacket is better then an umbrella)
  2. Take transit, parking is a pain
  3. Charge your phone in advance, you might want to take pictures and share on social media!
  4. Dress up, there are prizes on Friday Night for Country Night
  5. Bring your ID! You need it at the door to get in (and your ticket too)

Don’t:

  1. Spend all your time on your phone
  2. Try to drink all the ciders – we did this last year it was a very bad Sunday  (and Monday and Tuesday). Try the ones you have not had before, or cant get locally
  3. Wear fancy shoes, it might get muddy.
  4. Bring your dog (or cat, rabbit, under-aged niece etc).  We left Sterling with a friend!
  5. Get there too late, some of the best ciders do go early.

You can find out more from our official preview! 

Tickets are available here 

Oh, and don’t forget Thursday is our special pre-event at Cider House. Come talk with Duxbury and meet us for a guided flight and food pairing!

By in News, Toronto Cider Fest 1

Official Toronto Cider Festival Preview – 2018

 

Already Year 4 of the Toronto Cider Fest and once again they raising the stakes and upping the game – going even bigger and better than last year, expanding to 3 sessions over 2 days.  We are thrilled to be heading down to cover all three sessions and and see the second night on a Friday! This year you are asked to strap on your boots and throw on your cowboy hat, as its all gone country – with a western/country theme and musical lineup, especially on the inaugural Friday Night session! We can’t even begin to describe how much fun we had the last two years here, and we cannot wait for the festival to happen again!

The Lineup:

This year we see 31 (3 more than in 2017!) cideries participating – with a handful of past favourites and many new ones joining in, from across the province and country. There will be many first time cideries attending – including many we haven’t even tried yet – such as East Street Cider and Overlander! Here is the list that will yield over 100 ciders to try (but please don’t take on that challenge!)


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 last year 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 Brickworks Cider 

Saturday – Night Party
Live Music, DJ’s (REALLY GOOD DJS BTW) and a Flair Bartending contest

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

 

Plus thousands of fellow cider fans who will all become your best friends after a few 🙂

 

Tickets

  • Session 1 Country Night (Friday, August 24th 6PM – 11PM)
  • Session 1 VIP Ticket (VIP experience also includes 10 tokens, commemorative mug + 2018 Toronto Key to the City)
  • 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 – $35/ $49 / $70 plus the price of drink tokens. Travel packages also available.

Available from Eventbrite

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 to get excited! See you all there!

Looking for more? Check out our pre-event on the 23rd!

 

 

By in Tours 0

Prince Edward County – 2018 (2 Day Tour)

We had a great time traveling through Prince Edward County over a 2 day weekend in May of 2018.  We were lucky enough to stop off at 11 locations that make cider, and we know there are more coming on-line in the next year or two.  here is our route (Coming in from Ottawa),  We made Hardway, Bergeron, Clafeld and Country Cider on the first day before settling in and the bugs came out.  Day two saw Fieldbird, Hinterland, The Old Third, Apple Falls, Empire and Kings Mill before we headed back to Ottawa.

We also took Sterling along for the ride!

Map of our travels:

Podcasts recorded:

Photos:

 

Each individual page on our tours section:

 

Cidery Tour: Hard Way Cider, Bath, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Bergeron (Cole Point) Winery, Adolphustown, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Country Cider Co, Waupoos, ON (May 2018) -Pictures

Cidery Tour: Clafeld Cider, Waupoos, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Fieldbird Cider, Wellington, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Hinterland Winery, Prince Edward Country, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: The Old Third, Prince Edward County, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Apple Falls Cider Co. Prince Edward Country, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Empire Cider, Codrington, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

Cidery Tour: Kings Mill Cider,  Stirling, ON (May 2018) -Pictures and Podcast

By in Tours 0

Cider Tour: Chain Yard Urban Cidery [Halifax, Nova Scotia]

While in Halifax for a work conference in April, Bethany of the Cider Crate decided to visit Chain Yard – an urban cidery located a few minutes from the downtown core of Halifax. Having tried one of Chain Yard’s ciders last June thanks to a visiting friend from the Maritimes, we were already familiar with the type of cider they made but wanted to learn more about the cidery and their other products.

Susan – manager of Marketing – gave Bethany a wonderful tour of their facilities. Explaining that they only opened May of 2017, they were relatively new and only one of two cideries with hospitality features – as most other cideries in Nova Scotia are producers only. Having one of the most experienced cider makers in the province helping to create their drinks, they have been able to make 3 core canned ciders; as well as a variety of limited run unique ciders available through draught only.  At the time of visiting, they had a special cider feature called Ginxberry – a cider made with 3 types of apples, wildly fermented cranberry juice and Barreling Tides Gin.

Susan explained that ‘Nova Scotians have a sweeter palate and they gravitate towards smoother, less hoppy beers and ciders’ so they have ciders that appeal to that general taste. However, they also aim to expand people’s horizons and push them towards new tasting experiences, so they blend traditional beloved flavours and new experimental ones in hopes to gain and keep fans interested.

Currently using 100% Nova Scotian apples, they have 3 farm sources from the famous Annapolis Valley where they are abundant.

They also feature the ‘Unchained Kitchen’, which operates independently within the cidery but features foods that pair well with cider; and many are even made using the cider and apples.

You can buy their ciders on site and from their bar, at the Nova Scotian Liquor Store and other licensed stores – including the in Halifax Airport arriving or deporting! As well as on draught at many locations across the city and province and Maritimes.

If you are a Nova Scotia native or are just visiting Halifax like us, Chain Yard Urban Cidery is not to be missed by any cider fan!

 

 

By in Non-Alcoholic 0

Hall’s Apple Market – Sparkling Apple Cider [Non-Alcoholic]

Cider Profile:

Name:  Hall’s Apple Market – Sparkling Apple Cider
Sampled March 2018

Brand:  Hall’s Apple Market
Type:
Apple Cider (Non Alcoholic)
Location of Brewing:
Brockville, ON
ABV
: 0%
Website Link:
hallsapplemarket.com
Ingredients:
pasteurized 100% pure carbonated apple juice, vitamin C
Gluten Free:
Yes
Sugar Content: Unknown

Size(s) available: 355ml Glass Bottle
Availability:
Various
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:  
Rusty-Yellow
Carbonation:
Medium streaming bubbles

 


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Sweet apple and mixed field berries.
Initial Taste: Extra sweet, apple medley with a little bit of tangyness
After Taste: Remains sweet, tangyness dissipates quickly.  Similar elements to honey.  After-taste have very short shelf-life. Finishes with a bit of a film and candied apple.
On ice:  A little thinner and slightly less sugary.

Additional Notes:  This juice smells like a berry drink, tastes like a candied apple and has very unique and different properties than any other juice (or cider) we have tried.  It is extra sweet and very hard to classify.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 5
Sour – 2
Crisp – 4
Dry – 2
Fruity – 4.5

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

Links to Other Stories
Links to Pairings
Links to Cocktails
Links to Comparisons

 

By in Cider Crate Original Cocktails 0

Canadian Spring Cider Cocktail

Longing for the spring?  Can’t take it anymore (Kinda like Sterling, the Cider Corgi here)  Well, how about something that has the taste of a Canadian Spring, Maple Sugar!

Ingredients
Desaranto 1.5 oz
Calvados 1 oz
Thornbury spiced Cider 250ml
Cinnamon spice stick

Substitutions
Fireball (to give it more kick, replace the Calvados or Desaranto)
Change the cider, change the taste

Description:  A spiked spiced cider with traditional Canadian maple syrup flavour, it reminds us of a Maple Sugar Cookie. An alternative to a desert, just watch out for it catching up to you with the 2.5oz of spirits in a half can.

By in Breweries 0

Cidery Tour: KW Craft Cider, Kitchener-Waterloo, ON (December 2017)

Over the holidays we traveled back to visit family in South-Western Ontario.  Fortunately, Michael from KW Craft Cider offered us the opportunity to come by and check out their facilities, as well as chat about the sector.

Please enjoy our podcast, which you can subscribe to here:

subscribe_itunes-300x102

Have a listen below

Download episode Play in new window |

 

By in News 0

The Cider Crate – Best of 2017

So as we come to the end of 2017, we are happy to look back on some of the best ciders we had the past year and our favourite locales to enjoy them!  Have a look and we hope you tried a few yourself!  We sampled over 200 ciders all year, posting reviews of close to 70 of them!

~Bethany and Barry

Cider Crate Combined: Top 5 Bottles/Cans

401 Cider Company – The Gatsby
Brickworks – Mint and Basil
Heritage Estates – Dragon’s Gold
Hinterland Cider – Sparkling Cherry
Sea Cider Farm and Cidery – Birds and The Bees

Bethany’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. 401 Cider Company – The Gatsby
  2. Coffin Ridge – Forbidden Hopped Dry Cider
  3. Creekside Estate Winery – Rood Apples

Barry’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Sea Cider – Birds and The Bees
  2. 401 Cider Company – The Gatsby
  3. Fraser Valley – Elderflower

Cider Crate Combined: Top 5 Ciders Enjoyed at Bars/Events

California Cider Company – Ace Pineapple [Her Fathers]
County Cider Co. – Blackberry Sage [Elgin Beer Project]
Revel – Tepeche [Union 613, Brother Beer Bistro]
Steel Town Cider Co. – Guav as Fuck [Toronto Cider Festival]
Sulkers Cider – Kombucha [Craft Coyote]

Bethany’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Revel – Emergent Property [Union 613]
  2. Revel – Forks Not Spoons [Brothers Beer Bistro]
  3. Spirit Tree – Hopped [Toronto Cider Festival]

Barry’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Garage D’or – Hailstorm [The Wolly]
  2. Revel – Tepeche [Union 613, Brother Beer Bistro]
  3. BX Press Cardamom BlackCurrant [Devil’s Elbow Ale and Smokehouse]

Cidery of the Year-

Revel Cider Co.
Runner Up401 Cider Company

Break-out Cidery of the Year

Sulkers Cider
Runner Up – Steel Town Cider Co.

Bethany Preference26 Acre Craft Cider Company
Barry Preference Garage D’or

Favourite Non-Ontario

Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse (Victoria BC)
101 Cider House (California, USA)

Favourite Cider Event

Toronto Cider Festival
Runner Up – County Brewmaster in Ottawa

Favourite Apple Drink

Nickel Brook – Green Apple Beer

Favourite Bar

Brother Beer Bistro (Ottawa)
Runner Up – The Cider House (Toronto)

By in Other Apple Drinks 0

Beau’s – Lamb’s Wool

Apple Drink Profile:

Name: Beau’s – Lamb’s Wool
Sampled: December 2017

Brand: Beau’s All Natural Brewing
Type:
Apple Gruit Beer
Location of Brewing: Vakleek Hill, ON
ABV: 6.5%
Website Link: beaus.ca
Ingredients: Water, organic barley malts, organic unfiltered apple juice, organic yarrow, organic cinnamon, organic cloves, organic hops, brewer’s yeast.
Gluten Free: No
Sugar Content: unknownSize(s) available: 600mL Bottle
Availability:
LCBO (Limited Edition 2017)
Flavour:  
Apple
Colour:
Cloudy copper-brown
Carbonation:
Small amount of head/foam, no visible bubbles, carbonation from yeast.
 


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Strong smell of a dark or brown lager, some hints of spice.
Initial Taste: Some bite from carbonation, with a slight apple hints that turns to brown lager taste quickly.
After Taste: Long-lingering dark semi-bitter lager with some spices.  Little apple flavours but from peel. Spices remain on the pallet leaving it semi-sweet, rich and warm finish.
On ice: No tested

Additional Notes: With only subtle hints of apple, this spicy brown or dark lager has some strong warm notes great for a brisk winter/fall day.  A rich, full flavoured all organic offering from Beau’s leaves a slightly bitter warmth in your stomach.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3
Sour – 2
Crisp – 2.5
Dry – 2
Fruity – 4

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

Links to Other Stories
Links to Pairings
Links to Cocktails
Links to Comparisons

 

By in Other Apple Drinks 0

Unibroue – Ephemere Apple

Apple Drink Profile:

Name: Unibroue – Ephemere Apple
Sampled: December 2017

Brand: Unibroue (Sapporo)
Type:
Apple Beer
Location of Brewing: Chamble, Quebec
ABV: 5.5%
Website Link: unibroue.com
Ingredients: Unknown
Gluten Free: No
Sugar Content: UnknownSize(s) available: 355mL Bottle
Availability:
LCBO Unibroue Mixpack 2017
Flavour:  
Apple
Colour:
Cloudy aprocot-yellow
Carbonation:
Small, streaming bubbles.  Foam for head.
 


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Strong smell of Fruity wheat beer and apples. A little musty
Initial Taste: Smooth with little carbintion levels, some apples followed quickly by a creamy wheat beer.
After Taste: Wheat beer flaour remains throughtout the whole experience, with a consistant green, quebec style semi-sweet fleshy apple taste.  Taste lingers and has some resideu as you find in most wheat beers.
On ice: No tested

Additional Notes: If you’re a fan of the Blanche-De-Chambley from Uniibroue, you will really enjoy this flavoured wheat beer.  Its smooth and creamy, sweet but still obviously a beer.  Think 3/4th wheat, 1/4th apple.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3.5
Sour – 1.5
Crisp – 2
Dry – 2
Fruity – 4

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

Links to Other Stories
Links to Pairings
Links to Cocktails
Links to Comparisons

 

By in Other Apple Drinks 0

Sunnybrook 2014 Spiced Apple

Apple Drink Profile:

Name: Sunnybrook 2014 Spiced Apple
Sampled: April 2017

Brand: Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery Inc.
Type:
Wine – Flavoured
Location of Brewing: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
ABV: 12%
Website Link: sunnybrookwine.com
Ingredients: apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sulphites
Gluten Free: Yes
Sugar Content: UnknownSize(s) available: 750mL Bottle
Availability:
Limited – 333 cases; LCBO Vintages
Flavour:  
Spiced apple
Colour:
Pale yellow, almost clear
Carbonation:
No visible bubbles, still
 


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Mild smell. Dry white wine smell with cinnamon and nutmeg notes. Some apple aromas
Initial Taste: Quick presence of cinnamon and nutmeg flavours. Slightly warms the palate. Has the dryness of a white wine. Variety of apple tastes comes through.  Astringent.
After Taste: Bitterness of the cloves comes through. Dry wine flavour and sensation remains on the palate. Flavours linger long with the stringency remaining. Apple flavours become faint quickly.
On ice: Flavour doesn’t change much, becomes slightly more tart and watered-down

Additional Notes: This wine is definitely an intermediate drink between a wine and a cider, having definitive elements of both. It is a very warming drink that would be perfect for a sunny fall dinner.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2
Sour – 1.5
Crisp – 2.5
Dry – 3.5
Fruity – 3

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

Links to Other Stories
Links to Pairings
Links to Cocktails
Links to Comparisons

 

By in Event Reviews, News, Toronto Cider Fest 3

Toronto Cider Festival 2017 Recap

Full photo gallery here!

The leadup to the 2017 Toronto Cider Festival was huge – 12 more cideries promised, a new venue, new entertainment and even new awards… and to top it off, it was a celebration for Canada’s 150th Birthday! The organizers for the Festival not only lived up to the hype, they exceeded all expectations with an absolutely stellar day from start to finish. With thousands of happy fans and over 2 dozen friendly cideries sampling wonderful drinks, it won’t be a day to forget anytime soon.

.

We started our day by talking to a handful of cideries who were ready to chat – we started a bit later than expected as we were out late sipping on ciders at the wonderful Cider House on Roncesvalles Avenue. We saw that even before the gates opened for Session 1 at 11:30, there was already a lineup of eager fans who could not wait to get in the doors to start sampling the lovely brews.  With a beautiful new open concept venue at Sherbrooke Common by the waterfront, the location was stunning beautiful and the weather cooperated all day with sunny, warm weather as well. While we loved the Festival at Yonge and Dundas square in 2016, we felt this venue to be more relaxed and welcoming without the traffic and commercial buildings surrounding the grounds.

It did not take long after the doors opened at 11:30am of the Day Session, for the place to get very, very busy. With 28 different cideries, a serious selection of delicious food vendors and tons of larger-than-life games and entertainment acts, the only problem was deciding where to start!

One new event at the 2017 edition was the first annual Toronto International Cider Awards. Bethany from The Cider Crate was honoured to be asked to be a judge on the panel, as fitting the ‘Cider Blogger’ category; amongst the other categories of ‘Cider Connoisseur”, ‘Bartender/Restaurateur’’, ‘Chef’ and ‘Sommelier’, under the guidance and leadership of a professional wine and cider judge (who has judged many other competitions across Canada and the US). While the judging took longer than expected – over 80 ciders across 5 main categories – it was a really unique experience for Bethany to be apart of this panel.

The Festival hit capacity quite early, but thankfully due to well-executed organization, the lineups for ciders, food and washrooms were never longer than a couple of minutes. With lively music blaring all day – from live bands, singers and DJs – it also helped to make any wait more enjoyable. One of the major events that took place during the Day Session was the Live Art Showdown – a timed competition amongst a dozen or so participants to paint a picture on a canvas as quick as they could, and have the Festival attendees judge the best one. All of the participating artworks however were up for bid, with the proceeds going to charity.

Back again this year, was the People’s Choice Awards – a way people can show appreciation for their favourite ciders and cideries by texting in their choices. The winners for the Day Session were a mixture of new and returning favourites: 3rd place going to the crowdfunded favourite, Sulkers Cider; 2nd place went to another new cidery, Steel Town Cider; and the coveted first place went to Lone Tree Cider – who came all the way from British Columbia, hoping to soon join their Ontario counterparts on the shelves at the LCBO in the near future. While announcing these results always means the near closing of any session at the Toronto Cider Fest, it seemed everyone had a lovely Day Session at Sherbrooke Common; and for us, the day was only half over!

With an hour break, we were able to interview more cideries. Unfortunately due to logistics, timing and the sheer amount of cideries there – twenty-freaking-eight! – we were not able to interview everyone at the festival. However, we were able to interview 19 attending cideries, which can be found here. Also during the break, Bethany got to finish her 5 hours of cider judging for the other awards at the festival. After 80 different ciders that were judged totally blind, Bethany needed a break from the golden stuff.

With the VIP session starting promptly at 5, it soon got busy again at the venue. With Brickworks sponsoring the food pairing with E-Fresh Foods, they provided a variety of cider samples to pair with tasty food samples. With a smaller capacity, this allowed the VIP guests a more intimate experience with the cider vendors before the Evening Session began at 6pm.

 

It did not take long into the start of the Evening Session for it to get busy and quite lively. With the sun going down slowly, the hot day became a bit cooler and more relaxed; as well as more intimate with string lights being illuminated. At 7pm, the flair bartending competition started, with 4 amazingly talented contestants and one equally talented host, who brought so much excitement and energy to the Festival. With 3 male participants and 1 female, woman-wonder Kate Fisher brought the heat and won the crowd’s hearts – and the victor’s title as a result.

With the sun set and the evening sky appearing, the party only got crazier – with more cider being poured and more live music thumping. With the party going until close to 11pm, the mood was electric and magical. And there’s so much more that happened we haven’t even mentioned yet. There were a few fun other events on the side the Festival had this year, specifically the Canada 150 celebrations and decorations – which were highlighted with a beautiful display of photos from around the country; as well other Canadiana decorations throughout the grounds. As well, free food samples, life-size connect-4 and Jenga, and so so much more.

Right before the end of magical Evening Session, came a few big announcements. First was the winners of the inaugural Toronto International Cider Awards that Bethany was apart of deciding. With 5 categories, the winners were:

  • Dry: The Great Canadian Cider Company Nice and Dry
  • Semi-Sweet: Strongbow Gold
  • Blended: Strongbow Dark Fruit
  • Hopped: Sulkers Dry-Hopped
  • Perry: County Cider

 

As well, as with the day session, the winners of the People’s Choice for the Evening Session were announced. In third place, the ever-inspiring County Cider Co; taking second, was Reinharts Red Apple Light Cider; and in the coveted first place, taking the same title for a second year in a row, Heritage Estates Cider! Congrats to all the winners and all cideries, who are all deserving of appreciation and attention!

Overall, we were thrilled to connect with the cideries, the organizers (Thanks C & S!), as well as so many amazing cider fans. Without people showing up and caring so much about cider, these events would not be possible, so thank you to everyone who came and regularily supports craft cider all year long.  We think everyone left the event with a smile on their faces – including us; with tons of memories and hopefully new favourite ciders like us.

We absolutely cannot wait for 2018’s festival. In fact, tickets are already on sale here if you can’t contain your excitement for August 25th 2018 like us.

Barry and Bethany
The Cider Crate

By in Other Apple Drinks 1

Nickel Brook – Green Apple Beer

Apple Drink Profile:

Name:  Nickel Brook – Green Apple Beer
Sampled October 2017

Brand: Nickel Brook Brewery
Type:
Apple Beer
Location of Brewing: Toronto, ON
ABV: 6.2%
Website Link: nickelbrook.com
Ingredients: Spring Water, Malted Barley, Apple Juice, Liquid Sugar, Hops, Lemon Juice, Yeast, Citric Acid, Sorbic Acid
Gluten Free: No
Sugar Content: Unknown

Size(s) available: 473ml Can
Availability:
LCBO
Flavour:
Beer
Colour:
Mostly clear, sunflower yellow
Carbonation:
Small  but frequently streaming bubbles, foam on top

 


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:
Smell:
Very strong sour apple smell, pungent on the nose, almost like sniffing a carbonated soda.
Initial Taste: Mild bite, smooth creamy single apple taste with hints of yeast.
After Taste: Yeast flavour overtakes the apple, to become more like a light lager beer then a cider that has beer taste to it.  Extra smooth finish with a semi-sweet long-lingering aftertaste
On ice: Not done on ice.

Additional Notes: The Nickel Brook Green Apple offers a nice, light creamy tasting beer that has hints of a sweet fleshy apple taste but not overly sugary.  Think a wheat beer mixed with a cider, that is extra smooth.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3.5
Sour – 1.5
Crisp – 2
Dry – 2
Fruity – 3.5

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

Links to Other Stories
Links to Pairings
Links to Cocktails
Links to Comparisons

 

By in Breweries 0

Cidery Tour: Apple Falls Cider, Carring Place, ON (September 2017)

On our way home from the Toronto Cider Festival in 2017, we got a chance to visit the newly launched Apple Falls Cider Comapny. Checkout the audio, subscribe to the podcast and see the pictures!  Learn more about the family run farm and cider company via their website.

Please enjoy our first podcast, which you can subscribe to here:

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By in Breweries 0

Cidery Tour: 401 Cider Company, Colborne, ON (August 2017)

On our way to the Toronto Cider Festival in 2017, we got a chance to stop off and visit the 401 Cider Company. Checkout the audio, subscribe to the podcast and see the pictures!  Learn more about 401 via their website.

Please enjoy our first podcast, which you can subscribe to here:

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Have a listen below

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By in News 0

City Cider Festival 2017 Event Preview

If you’re looking for a little Sunday cider adventure, City Cider – presented by Not Far From The Tree – is hosted at the Spadina Museum on Sunday Sept 17th for its seventh year.  It offers a very backyard, family friendly opportunity to sample a few ciders and keep the kids active as well.

PARTICIPATING ONTARIO CIDERIES AND BREWERS
Brickworks Ciderhouse
Spirit Tree Estate Cidery
Ernest Cider Co.
Thornbury
Duxbury Cider Co.
Collective Arts
Ironwood


Black Oak
Burdock Brewery
Alchemy Pickle Company

Activities:

Fun for kids includes children’s songs, potato sack races, face painting, orchard tours, arborist experience for kids, observational bee colony, a traditional printing press and art-making. There will also be lots of music and a community market.

Food:

There will be lots of food on-site as well, featuring:

  • Momofuku Daisho
  • The Drake Commissary
  • The Birchwood Kitchen
  • NFFT BBQ and Apple Fritters
  • Local Food Trucks!
    *Food & drink tickets will be available for purchase on event day.

You can also tour the grounds, Spadina Museum Historic House & Gardens – that wheelchair accessible and there is an elevator that accesses all levels of the museum.

Other Ways to Participate

Want to volunteer at the event? Register here: https://notfarfromthetree.org/volunteer-registration/ 

Want to be apart of the Cider Squad and make cider at the event? Click here: https://notfarfromthetree.org/2016/06/22/join-the-cider-squad/

Learn much more on the Not Far From The Tree website

Online advanced tickets are $10 and it includes a souvenir mason jar glass! Buy them here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/city-cider-2017-tickets-36409004312. Tickets at the door are $15 and children under 12 are free.

More photos are here from last year.

By in News, Toronto Cider Fest 0

Surviving the TO Cider Festival

You’ve almost made it cider fans, the big day is very soon, this Saturday, August 26th! Whether it’s your first time to the festival or you’ve been in years past, we have compiled a list of handy tips for you to survive the day and enjoy it to its maximum.

 

Stuff to Bring with you:

  • Cash for extra sample tokens, and other purchases.

  • An empty water bottle so you drink water throughout the day! Sparkling and flat water will be available at the festival courtesy of Water Tap

  • A cell phone charger and battery pack.

  • A jacket or sweater as the event is by the lake and it could be breezy.

  • Sunscreen, sunglasses or a hat as its expected to be a bright sunny day

 

At the Festival

Do

  • Drink responsibly. Know your limits.

  • Ask the cideries about their products. The more you know, the more you can enjoy the wonderful drinks.

  • Do arrive early into the session maximize your time at the festival.

  • Give feedback on your samples – directly to the cideries or on Twitter. They depend on feedback to know which way to go with future products.

  • Take tons of photos (and post them online, tagging @tociderfest if you like).

  • SMILE lots! Your smiling face will not only increase your enjoyment, it will enhance other guests’ experiences.

  • Visit the County Cider and Lonetree Cider booths for chances to win getaway trips across Canada.

  • Do vote for your favourite ciders with your cell phone for the People’s Choice Awards.

  • Visit the cider vendors and stamp at least 16 ciders in your Cider Passport for a chance to win a cider experience at The Cider House
  • Come find us and say hi!

 

Don’t

  • Stick only to ciders you’ve already tried. This is a prime opportunity to try new ciders that you haven’t before. Break free from your comfort zone!

  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach. There will be many wonderful food vendors there to satisfy your food cravings (and help the next day).

  • Don’t drink and drive. Call a taxi, request an uber or take the TTC.

  • Don’t try all 70+ ciders that will be available… thats too much.

 

Further Cider Experiences

If you want to continue your cider drinking experiences post-festival, we suggest you do so at one of these better beverage bars that regularly features premium Ontario Craft Cider

  • Cider House

  • Her Fathers Cider Bar

  • WVRST

  • Tequila Bookworm

  • Bierra Volo

  • The Only Cafe

By in Other Apple Drinks 0

Calvados Boulard Pays d’auge

Apple Beverage Profile:

Name:  Calvados Boulard Pays d’auge
Sampled August 2017

Brand: Calvados Boulard
Type:
Calvados – apple brandy
Location of Brewing: Normandy, France
ABV: 40%
Website Link: calvados-boulard.com
Ingredients: up to 120 varieties of apples
Gluten Free: Yes
Sugar Content: N/A

Size(s) available: 750mL (bottle)
Availability:
All year – LCBO
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:
Rustic copper
Carbonation:
None

 

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Strong aroma, apple with oak. Spicy notes.
Initial Taste: Strong bite. Very strong alcohol presence that builds in intensity. Spiciness that takes over the pallet.
After Taste: Very astringent. Mature apple flavour comes through. Oak and vanilla notes. Lingers a long time.
On ice: Cuts some flavour and a significant amount of astringency. Does not linger as long.

Additional Notes: Calvados Boulard is a bold apple brandy that will wake you up! With a strong flavour and alcohol presence that builds in intensity for a long time after sipping, it is a very full-bodied spirit. Calvados stays in the mouth and the throat for a long period. It is thick and has a nice mature apple finish. The spiciness and the astringency of the spirit may burn your mouth.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 2
Sour – 2
Crisp – 2
Dry – 2.5
Fruity – 2

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

Links to Other Stories
Links to Pairings
Links to Cocktails
Links to Comparisons

 

By in Event Reviews 1

Event Review: County Cider Brewmasters Dinner at Craft Ottawa

About every month, Craft Ottawa hosts a special ‘Brewmasters dinner’ to celebrate pairing courses of food with excellent drinks – all from a select brewery or theme. For the first time, Craft Ottawa hosted a cider Brewmasters Dinner featuring the ever-wonderful County Cider Company on May 30th 2017. May is Celiac Awareness month, so Craft Ottawa decided to host a completely gluten-free Brewmasters Dinner for those who may normally be left out from the festivities. With cider being naturally gluten-free, it was an obvious choice to feature a dinner using cider for the first time.

Upon arrival to the dinner, was a very generous welcome drink of County Premium Apple Cider. Unsure if the remaining 4 ciders would be this large (yes, they were), everyone was getting primed for the evening with the dry, tart apple cider being handed out. With the dinner being hosted on the upper-level of the restaurant, it featured long, communal tables, so you could sit and meet with fellow cider fans in the process. With a strong mix of people attending – with many of them being young professionals – it was an energetic and friendly group of people from the start (even before being pumped with generous glasses of cider).

Before getting into the first course, Robin – County Cider employee extraordinaire and representative for the company for the evening – spoke about the origins of the County Cider Company; as well as the first two ciders being served. Focusing on the rich history and practices of the company, Robin touched on the tree planting done at the farm, the amount of cider produced every year; as well as the techniques that make County’s cider “more complex than some competitors”.

After Robin’s initial speech, out came the peach cider – all in its golden, bubbly glory. Made all natural with Niagara peaches, it has a clean and sweet finish. But before the first course came out, the head chef for Craft Ottawa wanted to say a few words about the dish and courses in general. The night was about ‘celebrating food people with Celiac can’t normally enjoy”; as well as to celebrate cider. It was admitted that the first dish to be paired with the peach cider was more in favour of celebrating the drink but when thinking of what to pair with it, “prosciutto came to mind”.

The first course that was perfectly paired with the peach cider was the ‘marinated burrata” – a  soft cheese, mixed with local prosciutto, roasted peaches, balsamic and a beet drizzle and bitter herbs. The meal and cider paired together, offered a lot of unique contrasts that really complimented each other: the sweetness of the peach cider and roasted peaches was matched well with the saltiness of the prosciutto; the softness of the burrata cheese was well equipped to handle the impact of the crunchiness from the roasted peaches and the meat; and the tartness and the tannin’s of the cider mellowed the bitterness from the herbs. Overall, this pairing was brilliant and the contrasting flavours really did form a superb marriage of tastes in the dish.

Before the second course began, out came the third cider of the evening – the County Pear Cider – with short speeches from Robin and the chef again. Robin went first, describing the properties of the pear cider, stating it was “apple-based with fruit concentrates” and that it is “not as sweet as other perries on the market”. After Robin finished, the chef wet our appetite with a description of the upcoming dish. The second course he designed had both ‘celebrating the cider and the gluten-free aspects of the dish in mind”. With pears being a central part of the dish to be paired with the pear cider, the chef acknowledged between these two courses, “peaches on peaches, pears on pears, hat on a hat” but it all helps to create the vivid flavours in the pairings.

The second course involved a gluten-free tart with pears and onions as the filing; with a side salad that featured Roquefort blue cheese and pickled onions. With a gritty pie crust (that was sometimes hard to pick up with a fork) the filing was a very strong caramelized onion taste; with pear being the secondary flavour. These strong flavours went up well against the strong flavours from the blue cheese and the pickled onions – that probably should have been followed with a breathe mint. While the previous dish had contrasting flavours that were at odds with one another, this pear-focused dish had strong flavours that blended more naturally together. With the onions being so dominate, the perry and the pears in the tart, acted to lower their acidity. The cheese was perfect and it almost melted in the mouth when enjoyed directly with the pear cider.

At this point, I was starting to feel the three very large ciders and two courses… we could have stopped there and I would have been very happy, but we were barely only half way through! The breaks between the courses were important and helped to appreciate pondering all the flavours that just happened. I could tell from looking around the room and speaking with a few others, that they were really starting to feel the generous ciders by this point as well, but nobody wanted to stop the journey we were on.

The fourth cider of the evening was ‘A Tortured Path’, and with it came a very important speech from Robin. This past January, County Cider tragically lost its creator and visionary, Grant Howes. Robin went on to describe that after a trip to Somerset, UK, Grant fell in love with their premiere style of cider, and wanted to create a version of his own back in Canada. Thus, A Tortured Path was born, and it had been, “Grant’s baby ever since”. A Tortured Path is an old-world cider, that has a dark golden hue and is quite dry from the tannin’s in the apples. Knowing the special value this cider had to Grant and the County Cider Company as a whole, it made it that much more meaningful for the third course.

The third course for the evening was a wonderfully presented Nashville fried chicken and cornbread waffles – with the 2 pieces of chicken coming in a tiny, silver bucket. Unfortunately for myself, I do not enjoy spicy food so I wish there had been an option without the sauce, but the strong presence of tannin’s in the cider did neutralized my pallet slightly. I would even say that the spicy notes helped to amplify the tannin’s in a way that isn’t as prominent than without the primer. The hot sauce did have an enjoyable smokey flavour however, and the chicken was very juicy. The cornbread waffles were the real star though, being incredibly light, crispy and sticky from the syrup it was glazed in. Despite my discomfort from the spiciness of the chicken I had to eat quickly to get past the heat, the whole dish was comforting and invited a more casual feel to the evening, from the prior, fancier courses.

Approaching the end of the evening, we were presented with our final cider, the County Blood Orange. Before dessert was served, Robin and the chef stood to speak one final time each. Robin admitted she could tell ‘that everyone is really enjoying the cider by that point’ and that the blood orange cider is a dessert cider –  a ‘hit or miss’ to some people. Only available at the County retail store – like the A Tortured Path – I could tell it was a real treat for some who may have never had access to it before. This cider is a vibrant orange-red hue that is sweet, candied and progressive in nature in the mouth.

Our final course was a dessert designed to be both deliberately complimentary and contrasting – a burnt orange crème brule that featured a crispy caramel salt on top. This dessert starts off immediately salty but then comes to be a creamy orange ‘creamsicle’ on the pallet. When enjoyed with the cider, the dryness of the drink really brought out the salty flavours of the dessert – including the advertised caramel notes. The brule was both crispy and soft, making it a perfect finish the courses. The blood orange cider was both tangy and sweet, and that left a long lingering taste in the mouth – which stayed well past the tables being cleared.

By the end of this dinner, everyone was rightfully tipsy and deservedly so; and everyone seemed to be friends and very social by this point. Overall, this was a fantastically put together dinner by the folks at Craft Ottawa and County Cider. The meals and the cider pairings were obviously very mindfully crafted to offer a variety of goals and objectives; with value at heart in terms of generous food and drink portions. One of the most thoughtful and appreciated aspects to the night was the commentary between every meal and cider from both the head chef and Robin. Having that knowledge shared really added depth and appreciation for the plates and ciders at hand.

Speaking with others, they enjoyed the night as much as I did – as well as being surprised at how generous every cider portion was. I know from experience and others, it is hard to get people in Ottawa excited about cider when it is a decidedly craft beer town. But events like this really do help to raise the profile of the drink in the city, and I hope to see more not only here, but around the province.

Thanks for the lovely evening, Craft and County – your professionalism, expertise and welcoming spirits will be a night to remember for a long time.

~Bethany for The Cider Crate

 

By in Other Apple Drinks 0

Jack Daniel’s – Jack Apple

Apple Drink Profile:

Name:  Jack Daniel’s – Jack Apple
Sampled April 2017

Brand:  Jack Daniels
Type:
Cider and Spirit Mix
Location of Brewing:
Lynchberg, Tennessee
ABV:
4%
Website Link:  
countrycocktails.com
Ingredients:
Carbonated Water, Glucos-Fructos, Tennessee Whisky, Natural Spirit, Malic Acid, Natural Flavour, Sodium Citrate, Caramel Colour, Potasium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate
Sugar Content: med/high

Size(s) available:  473ml Can
Availability:
LCBO
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:  
Amber/Yellow
Carbonation:
Lots of medium-small bubbles

 

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Super sweet, strong smell of fresh apples and honey
Initial Taste:  Light apple cider flavour with hints of honey, slight carbonation with a minimal bite
After Taste: Apple flavour dissipates and a strong taste of sweet Jack Daniel’s Whisky remains for an extended period in the mouth. JD is sweeter than normal.
On ice: Some of the sweetness is cut down, with less Jack Daniel’s aftertaste

Additional Notes:   Think commercially sweet cider (I.e. Somersby), with a sugary inital taste, followed by a long lingering flavour of Jack Daniels Whiskey, if it were in a cocktail mix.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 5
Sour – 1.5
Crisp – 2
Dry – 1.5
Fruity – 4.5

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

Links to Other Stories
Links to Pairings
Links to Cocktails
Links to Comparisons

 

By in Other Apple Drinks 0

Bud Light – Apple

Apple Drink Profile:

Name:  Bud Light – Apple
Sampled April 2017

Brand:  Bud Light
Type:
Apple Light Beer
Location of Brewing:
London, Ontario
ABV:
4%
Website Link:  
budlight.ca/en/apple
Ingredients:
Light beer, Water, Glucos-Fructose, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, natural Apple flavours
Gluten Free:
No
Sugar Content: Low/Zero

Size(s) available:  473ml Can
Availability:
Beer Store, Various grocery stores
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:  
Gold yellow
Carbonation:
Medium that goes flat quickly.  Lots of head

 


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:
Smell:
Extra sweet apple juice with a hint of beer.
Initial Taste:  Light bite with strong fizzy carbonation with notes of light beer.  Smells sweeter and with more apple taste then it actually haspe
After Taste: Beer flavour returns to an apple juice flavour with a long-lasting taste in the mouth that is a little filmy.
On ice: Smoother, more of a beer taste on ice.  A touch sweeter due to lack of carbonation.

Additional Notes:  As an alternative to a cider, this could be a pretty easy gateway from beer.  Cider drinkers may find it a nice change of pace. obvious beer base, it does not have an overly heavy malty or hoppy taste.  It does contain a light apple taste that has very little depth or character.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3
Sour – 1.5
Crisp – 2
Dry – 2
Fruity – 2

Next recommendations:
More Sweet –TBA
More Sour – TBA
More Dry – TBA
More Crisp – TBA

Links to Other Stories
Links to Pairings
Links to Cocktails
Links to Comparisons

 

By in Other Apple Drinks 0

Bud Light Lime – Apple-ahhh-rita

Cider Profile:

Name:  Bud Lime – Apple-ahhh-rita
Sampled April 2017

Brand: Bud Light Lime (Anheuser-Busch)
Type:
Apple Strong Beer
Location of Brewing:
USA
ABV:
6.0%
Website Link:
Ingredients:
Beer, Apple Margarita Flavour (Water, Glucose-Fructose, Natural and artificial Flavours, Malic Acid, Sodium Citrate). Caramel Colour.
Gluten Free:
No
Sugar Content: 6g/100mlSize(s) available: 236ml Can
Availability:
Beer Store
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:
Rust
Carbonation:
Big bubbles, medium carbonation.
 


Cider Crate Tasting Notes:
Smell:
Strong, extra sweet fleshy apple like a red delicious.
Initial Taste: Medium bite, semi-thick texture, strong apple taste
After Taste: Long lasting sweet apple finish, almost like you ate the peel of an apple.
On ice: Less sweet, less flavou