The Cider Crate

Toronto Cider Fest

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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 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.

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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 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 Event Reviews, News, Toronto Cider Fest 1

Toronto Cider Festival 2016 – Podcast Series, Gallery and More

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 out the Podcast Series featuring 18 cideries who were at the festival.  You can also access it on iTunes.

Check through the gallery of all the photo’s we took throughout the day.

and if you missed it, our review is located here.