The Cider Crate

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By in News, Toronto Cider Fest 0

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:

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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 2

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