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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.

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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 1

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.

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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 flavour but with more carbonation.

Additional Notes:  As with most of the Bud Lime series of strong beers, this is a sweet alternative to a beer.  It tastes more like a cider then a beer, but has an obvious beer base.  Extra sweet, fans of a traditional cider would find this extra sugary and very commercial. 

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 4
Sour – 1.5
Crisp – 2
Dry – 1.5
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 Other Apple Drinks 0

Crazy Beard – Wild Apple Ale

Apple Drink Profile:

Name:  Crazy Beard – Wild Apple Ale
Sampled April 2017

Brand:  Iconic Brewing Co
Type:
Apple Ale
Location of Brewing:
Oakville, ON
ABV:
5.2%
Website Link:
iconicbrewing.co
Ingredients:
sugar, barley malt, apple juice, natural and artificial flavours, malic acid, citric acid, neutral spirit caramel colour, and carbonated water
Gluten Free: N
o
Sugar Content: Medium

Size(s) available: 473ml Can
Availability:
LCBO
Flavour:
Apple
Colour:  
Orange/Golden
Carbonation: 
Small but long lasting carbonation bubbles that tingle. 

 

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Strong extra sweet apple pulp/flesh smell
Initial Taste:  Light bite, smooth sweet apple.
After Taste: after initial taste, quick burst of smooth.  Long lasting and fimly taste.
On ice: Carbination and taste cut dramatically.

Additional Notes:  With a hint of an ale taste, this long lasting beverage offers a different option.  A bit thicker then a typical cider, it could replace a commercially produced one, even though it has a beer base.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 4
Sour – 1.5
Crisp – 3
Dry –1.5
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 Other Apple Drinks 0

MadJack – Apple Lager

Apple Product Profile:

Name:  MadJack – Apple Lager
Sampled April 2017

Brand:  MadJack
Type:  
Apple Lager
Location of Brewing:
Montreal, PQ
ABV:
5%
Website Link:
madjack.ca
Ingredients:
malt liquor, carbonated water, glucos-fructose, malic acid, natural flavour, barley
Gluten Free:
unknown
Sugar Content: medium-highSize(s) available: 473ml
Availability:
Grocery stores in Ontario, Beer Store
Flavour: Apple
Colour:  
Amber yellow
Carbonation:
minimal foam, big bubbles that look like soda pop size. More on ice.
 

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Thick, medium to strong smell of beer with a secondary smell of creamy apple pulp.
Initial Taste: Medium bite, apple taste (Very little lager/beer taste)
After Taste: Taste finishes with an apple tingle, somewhat syrupy.
On ice:  Less carbonation, smoother drink.

Additional Notes:  What smells like a beer tastes much more like a cider.  Mad Jack apple lager could easily be mistaken for a cider, which is probably the case.  With little taste of hops, is surprises you with its mild, smooth taste.

Comparison to Hard Core Apple version:  Hard core is sweeter with a bit more kick in the carbonation.   Original has a bit more of a malty taste.

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

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

MadJack – Hard Core Apple Lager

Apple Drink Profile:

Name:  MadJack – Hard Core Apple Lager
Sampled April 2017

Brand:  MadJack
Type:  
Apple Lager
Location of Brewing:
Montreal, PQ
ABV:
7%
Website Link:
madjack.ca
Ingredients:
malt liquor, carbonated water, glucos-fructose, malic acid, natural flavour, barley
Gluten Free:
unknown
Sugar Content: medium-highSize(s) available: 473ml
Availability:
Grocery Stores in Ontario, Beer Store
Flavour: Apple
Colour:  
Amber yellow
Carbonation:
Small sized streaming. Medium-large bubbles that look like soda pop size on ice.
 

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Thick, medium to strong smell syrupy smell of apple pulp. Hints of Lager
Initial Taste: mild bite, apple taste (Very little lager/beer taste)
After Taste: Taste finishes with an apple tingle, somewhat syrupy. Not a long lingering aftertaste
On ice:  Less carbonation bubbles, but more carbonation to drink.  A touch tartar then not on ice.

Additional Notes:  We could call MadJack – Hard Core apple Lager 2.0 of their original version.  More kick (in the form of 7 vs 5% ABV) however, not much difference other than a little more tang and carbonation when on ice (which is different than traditional).

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

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

Norfolk County – Baked Apple Mead

Apple Drink Profile:

Name:  Norfolk County – Baked Apple Mead
Sampled April 2017

Brand: Trafalger Ales & Meads
Type:
Mead
Location of Brewing:  
Oakville, ON
ABV:
8.5%
Website Link:
trafalgarclub.com
Ingredients:
water, honey, barley, hops, yeast, apples, cinnamon, raisins
Gluten Free:
No
Sugar Content: Size(s) available: 375ml bottle,
Availability:
LCBO
Flavour:  Apple
Colour:  
Bright Orange, close to a ripe peach
Carbonation:
Medium head, light carbonation
 

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Sweet smell of thick apples with hints of beer
Initial Taste:
Med-Mild bite, smooth thick and creamy beerish taste.
After Taste: Sweet apples come through after the inital taste and stay on the pallet.  Filmy aftertaste that stays in the back of the mouth with hints of raisins and cinnamon.
On ice: carbonation is more prevalent, sweetness is cut.

Additional Notes:  For those who have not tried a mead before, this is a great opportunity for something that is sweeter and not as thick as a straight mead, but still remains easily drinkable.  Light and refreshing, the apple adds a smoothness that matches the honey base.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 4.5
Sour – 2
Crisp – 3
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

Shock Top – Honeycrisp Apple Wheat

Apple Drink Profile:

Name:  Shock Top – Honeycrisp Apple Wheat
Sampled April 2017

Brand: Shock Top (Labatts)
Type:
Wheat Beer
Location of Brewing:  
London, ON
ABV:
5.2%
Website Link:
shocktopbeer.com (USA)
Ingredients:
Beer, Sugar, Malic Acid, Natural Apple Flavours. Wheat, Barley
Gluten Free:
No
Sugar Content: low/noneSize(s) available: 355ml bottle, 473ml can
Availability:
12 pack of Shock Top Sampler package
Flavour:  
Apple
Colour:  
Cloudy yellow/orange
Carbonation:
Strong head, Medium-small bubbles that are clumped together
 

Cider Crate Tasting Notes:

Smell: Medium to strong smell of beer and sweet fleshy apples.
Initial Taste: Light to medium bite, light apple taste
After Taste: Slightly tart, with earthy tones and a bit of filmy finish.  Ends with a strong wheat beer aftertaste and little to apple flavour.
On ice: A little smoother. carbonation reduced.

Additional Notes:  A wheat beer that holds a hint of apple.  Much more on the beer side then other beers which could come off as a cider.  Sweet and refreshing.

Rated on a scale of 1-5
Sweet – 3
Sour – 2
Crisp – 3
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 Event Reviews, News 0

Ottawa Winter BrewFest 2017 Review

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.

Download episode | Play in new window | File size: 9.2MB

 

By in Breweries 0

Cidery Tour: Revel Cider Dec 2016 Tour

We were lucky enough to catch-up with Revel Cider Owner and Founder Tariq Ahmed, just a day or two after he moved into his new Guelph warehouse location.  We will come back when its setup but here are some of the photos, however I am sure it looks a little different today.

By in Breweries 0

Cidery Tour: County Cider, Waupoos, ON (June 2016)

We were lucky enough to visit County Cider in Waupoos on our way to the 2016 Toronto Cider Awards.  Grant took us into the fields to try some different apples and learn more about there production, and then we were Joined by Jen and had a cider on their public patio before the band played.

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

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We wish Jen and County Cider all the best moving forward and were very saddened to hear the pass of Grant in January of 2017.

Have a listen below

Download episode | Play in new window | File size: 50.3MB

 

By in News 0

Ontario Cider Awards – 2016 Preview

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.

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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).

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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:

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Apple

Gold: Revel – Spirit of the Woods
Silver: Brickworks – 501 Queen
Bronze: KW Craft – Dry Cider

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Fruit

Gold: West Ave Cider – Cherrosity
Silver: Shiny – Pinot Noir
Bronze: Double Trouble – Grow a Pear

Best in Show

West Ave Cider – Cherrosity

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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

*Oh, and did we mention we will be covering the event?  Come find us and say hi or follow along on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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.