We stopped in opening night to Ottawa Winter BrewFest to see what was going on at Lansdowne, as we heard there were some ciders being featured. Below (and updated on our podcast) is an interview with Mike, the event coordinator where he talked about the festival, the ciders at the festival and whats coming up in 2017.
Now in its second year, the Ontario Cider Awards are coming soon to the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair, on Thursday, November 10th 2016. If you were lucky like us to have attended in its inaugural year, you know this a stellar event hosted by the friendly folks at Drink Inc. Ontario Cider is an ever-increasingly popular and diverse category of drinks, and this event celebrates the delicious beauty of cider by allowing the fans themselves to decide people choice winners.
Like last year, there are two main categories to vote on: traditional ciders and fruit ciders. With many Ontario cideries competing in one or both categories, the hardest task will only be picking a few favourites. The event is ‘pay-as you-drink’, with 5 tickets included in your admission price – with additional samples costing only 1 dollar for 4 oz (with some cider samples potentially costing more based on ingredients).
Last year’s awards had a variety of Ontario cideries competing for the top prizes, with us only guessing how many more entries – both ciders and cideries – there will be this year. Watch this space as we will be positing all ciders that will be available for sampling and voting as soon as they are available!
A recap of last year’s People’s Choice winners:
West Ave Cider – Cherrosity
Tickets are on sale now for $35 dollars each and they include 5 4oz samples and general admission ALL DAY to the Royal Winter Fair. Get them while you can as they won’t last long! You can feel extra special about your ticket purchase knowing that a portion of each ticket will go to Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund, that provides a variety of musical therapies to people with conditions like Alzheimer’s and autism.
For more information, check out the Drink Inc Website
It took a lot of work and a lot of editing, but we are finally ready to present our extended recap coverage of the 2016 Toronto Cider Festival – including our Podcast Series of informative interviews about cider.
Check through the gallery of all the photo’s we took throughout the day.
and if you missed it, our review is located here.
The 2nd annual Toronto Cider Festival happened on August 27th, 2016, and if you weren’t there, you unfortunately missed out on an amazing day. The weather was sunny, warm and beautiful throughout the day, and the fans came out by the thousands to indulge in 40+ ciders from 19 cideries. Broken up into two sessions – with a VIP one-hour session – the all-day event was a massive success and we were there for the full 11+ hours to cover all of the action and speak to the cider makers and fans alike.
Within moments of the doors opening at 11:30am, Yonge and Dundas square started to fill with hundreds of fans eager to start sampling cider. We made our way to interview about half the cideries prior to the doors opening – with us getting to interview the other half of the cideries between the two sessions. With the sun shining down, cider fans spent hours going to each cider booth, and getting their passports stamped and munching on the delightful cuisine offering by the food vendors mixed in around the drinks. With a delightful ‘Cottage in the City’ theme, the event successfully transported us into the wilderness amongst all of the city lights, to a calm oasis of wonderful cider sipping.
With 19 cideries it was certainly difficult to know where to even start – luckily, there was no wrong choice. Among the included booths were: 14 Ontario cideries, 1 from British Columbia, 3 international companies and 1 French apple brandy company.With most cideries bringing their flagship ciders, many also brought special flavoured varieties; as well as limited kegs and upcoming releases.
While all the ciders offered to sample were amazingly delicious, there were some true standout ciders that were unique in their own right. KW Craft Cider was sampling one of their newest creations, the Snakebite Cider, which was a perfectly blended mixture of cider and beer, in collaboration with Elora Brewing Company. Spirit Tree Cider brought their recently released Pear Lavender cider (See our review here), which is a unique take on their original pear cider; as well as their Dry Hopped blend which tickles the pallet with flavour. The oldest cidery in Ontario, County Cider Company, brought four varieties to sample, which included their hit Blood Orange cider and their recently released cider, Rootbeer.
One of the special ‘event’ ciders was Coffin Ridge’s Strawberry Mint Cider, where only 1 keg per session was tapped – at 2pm and 8pm – and only available for a short period, as the lineups to sample started early (and lasted about 30 before it was all gone). Another special cider only offered in a limited quantity was Thornbury’s Spiced Apple – a smoothly blended cider that will be available at the LCBO this fall for a limited time. As well, Ironwood brought their hilariously named ‘Cowabunga’ Cider made with tart cranberries, that we actually had the pleasure of sampling the evening before at Her Fathers Cider Bar.
Other special cider offerings included Brickworks Field Trip Cherry (See our review here) (Poor Brickworks brought there re-constructed 1940’s tap truck which broke down less then 500m away from the event on the side of the road and missed the entire first session), Double Trouble’s ‘Grow a Pear’ cider (recently launched at the LCBO), Duxbury’s hopped Tilted Barn, amongst many, many others (there are just too many to list!).
One cidery that really stood out to us was Heritage Estates – a new cidery located in Barrie that only launched in July – that already had two canned offerings available: Dragon’s Gold and Eden’s Apple. Let us tell you that these were two highly unique ciders that didn’t taste like anything else you would have had that day. We were also impressed with Lone Tree Cider – a cidery that came all the way from British Columbia and is hoping to break into the Ontario market soon – with 4 delicious ciders for our sampling pleasure.
Fans could text their favourite ciders to a special contest number throughout the day, and the same three cideries were selected as the fan favourites in both sessions but in different orders. The winners from the first session were 3) Heritage Estates 2) Ernest Cider and 1) Savanna. The evening session winners were 3) Savanna 2) Heritage Estates and 1) Ernest Cider. We were thrilled that two up-and-coming Ontario Craft Cideries were selected, as we see big things ahead for them all!
Mixed in throughout the evening, were two special schedulings – the food and cider pairing session at 5pm for VIP ticket holders and the flair bartending competition that started shortly before 7pm. The VIP session food pairing was done by the industry expert, Doris Miculan Bradley and it included a mouth-watering pulled pork sandwich, topped with creamy coleslaw and an olive – paired with County Cider Apple, and followed with County’s bright red cranberry and raspberry Feral Cider.
Shortly after, was the flair bartending competition, where a few seasoned professionals had 5 minutes to flip and toss bottles around, all while making a delicious cocktail featuring Angry Orchard Cider. While there were a few bottles broken, it was a true spectacle to watch with tons of crazy tricks and flips.
The festival offered so much more than just cider samples, pairings and cocktails though; with delicious food vendors, life-size games (including Jenga and Connect 4), DJs, live music, tons of incredible giveaways and more, it was a truly complete and grand experience for the senses. With the festival all tucked underneath the glowing signs and lights of Yonge and Dundas square, it only made the day more brilliant and grandeur.
We think the 2016 edition of the Toronto Cider Festival was an incredible success and we thank not only the wonderful job done by the organizers and cideries for putting this day together; we thank the thousands of fans that came together to connect over a shared love of a delicious drink. Events like this are important for the cider community, as it show cider’s growing popularity and influence in Ontario. This helps grow the industry, grow allotted shelf space at the LCBO and grocery stores, and gain access to more markets and more equitable selling laws.
Thanks again to everyone involved with the Toronto Cider Festival. We cannot wait until next year.
*watch for our interviews with the cider makers coming soon!
So by now we hope you have gotten your tickets for the 2nd annual Toronto Cider Festival that’s happening at Yonge and Dundas Square on Saturday, August 27th 2016. But if not, no worries, there are still some left! This years theme is “Cottage in the City” so expect Muskoka chairs, canoes, wooden logs, wooden barrels and more right in the heart of Toronto.
This years event has three sessions, and is expected to bring over 3,000 attendees 19 year of age and over
Session 1 : 11:30PM-4:00PM
Session 2: 6:00PM-10:30PM
VIP Session: 5:00PM-10:30PM (Limited tickets)
*** UPDATE: AS OF WEDNESDAY AUGUST 24TH ONLY 150 TICKETS REMAIN! ***
Get your tickets while you still can: https://torontociderfestival.eventgrid.com
You may have gone to the first Toronto Cider Festival in 2015, but what can you expect for 2016? Well for starters, everything is bigger and better and there are more cideries for you to try – expect 40+ different ciders for your tasting pleasure!
Session 1 and Session 2 tickets are priced at $30
Tickets Includes 4 Sample Tokens and Commemorative Sampling Cup.
Ticket gives attendees access to 20 to top craft ciders with more than 40 taps, a handful of food trucks, and various forms of entertainment, including live entertainers, music, giveaways and contests.
VIP Tickets are priced at $60
Tickets Includes 10 Sample Tokens and Commemorative Sampling Cup.
VIPs get in at 5:00PM for early entry to the festival.
Participating Cideries (19 in total)
- Pommies Cider Co.
- The County Cider Company
- Thornbury, Shiny Apple
- Spirit Tree Estate Cidery
- Brickworks Ciderhouse
- Ironwood Cider
- Forbidden Dry Cider
- Duxbury Cider Co.
- Revel Cider Co.
- Grow A Pear
- Magners Irish Cider [Ireland]
- Angry Orchard Hard Cider [USA]
- Magnotta Brewing Co.
- Shiny Apple Cider
- Ernest Cider
- Lonetree Authentic Dry Cider [BC #1Cider]
- KW Cider
- Calvados Boulard
- Savanna Cider [South Africa]
Some of the unique and interesting cider flavours that will be on tap:
- Blackberry Peach
- Strawberry Mint
…And many more to be announced and discovered!
What to look for:
The event itself has a lot of things to get involved in – not just only sampling new and classic ciders. (Note that 4oz sample tickets are 5 for $10 or 10 for $20).
Food Pairing w/ County Cider
Hosted by special guest Doris Miculan Bradley (industry professional who teaches at George Brown College and is the Canadian Brand Ambassador for The Wines of Vinho Verde), this session is special for those with VIP access, giving you a demonstration on how to pair delicious foods with the right cider blend. This session is expected to have 2-3 different cider tastings accompanied with various cuisine.
Attendees of the late session, 6-10:30pm will be treated to a flair bartending competition, sponsored by Angry Orchard. Expect flying spirit bottles, unique cider cocktails and maybe a splash zone if you’re in the front row (kidding, hopefully).
The festival will also feature special entertainment by ONQ, including live music by bands like Stereo Flavour and Sevens, one of Toronto’s best DJs – DJ D-Smooth
- Pili Pili
- Wood Oven Pizza by Aristocaters
- The Mustache Burger
The Magners Ireland Adventure Giveaway contest: Complete a ballot after purchasing a Magners Cider sample at the Toronto Cider Festival and submit the completed ballot to the Magners Cider Booth for a chance to win a 4-night stay with round-trip flights for 2 to Dublin, Ireland.
The Prince Edward County contest presented by the County Cider Company: complete a ballot after purchasing a County Cider sample from at the Toronto Cider Festival and submit the completed ballot to The County Cider Company Booth for a chance to win a 2-night getaway for 2 in Prince Edward County at Jackson Falls Country Inn with complimentary tastings at the County Cider Company and other select wineries
The Passport Contest: Visit each cider vendor at the Toronto Cider Festival and try their cider to get your passport stamped. Collect all 19 stamps and bring your completed passport to any Toronto Cider Festival token booth for a chance to win an international cider experience with food pairings for 2 at Her Father’s Cider Bar + Kitchen
People’s Choice Awards presented by The County Cider Company: Visit the 19 cider booths and pick the one you love most. Then text a designated number (647 360 2929) with the booth number that had your favourite cider for a chance to win an awesome prize pack from The County Cider Company
Angry Orchard Instagram Photo Booth Contest: Take a picture in front of the Photo Booth at Toronto Cider Festival and upload it on Instagram with hashtag #AngryOrchard and #TOciderfest. The most creative and hilarious picture will be selected to win a special prize pack by Angry Orchard
- The County Cider Company – Proud Sponsor of the Prince Edward County Contest Giveaway, the VIP Food and Cider Pairing Session, People’s Choice Awards Giveaway and the Notable Toronto Cider Festival Pre-Event Launch Party
- Angry Orchard Hard Cider – Proud Sponsor of the Flair Cider Cocktail Competition and Instagram Photo Booth Contest
- Magners Irish Cider – Proud Sponsor of the Ireland Giveaway Contest
- Indie 88 – Officia Radio Sponsor
The fun doesn’t stop here, as there will be an Instagram photo booth; along with live entertainers, musicians, contests and Giveaways all day long at your cottage in the city. Arrive early each session, and plan accordingly to get home safe!
Keep up to-date with the Festival social media pages or visit there website for tickets
Social Media : https://www.facebook.com/torontociderfestival
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/952817434739622/
You may have seen that the shell of the site is here, but no content. We will be looking to start really filling it out, it just takes time to make sure we are doing the reviews correctly (need to test the testing method, make sure everything looks good etc), so we hope to have an official announcement soon.
With the website starting to take shape, it is time to start filling in the content. Here is a quick photo of some of the ciders located here in the Ottawa, ON, Canada region we are going to start to review and post.
If you are interested in providing feedback to the project, please do not hesitate to contact us.