The Cider Crate

Toronto Cider Festival

By in Event Reviews, News, Toronto Cider Fest 0

Toronto Cider Festival 2019 Recap

The 5th edition of the Toronto Cider Festival brought with it a few lovely days to sample over 30 cideries from across Ontario, Canada and France!  We were lucky enough to start the weekend off early at Her Fathers Cider Bar, joined by Niagara, Duntroon and returning, Duxbury Cider for a meet the maker and sample night.  

Barry’s Review:

Friday, a busy day personally so we were unable to make the event.  However, Saturday, here is our reviews.

In comparison to previous years, the venue filled up and a was pretty cider-drinker focused during the day-drinking session.  A lot of people were interested in chatting with the makers and learning more about their craft. We were able to chat with a few new participants and hope to have the interviews on our website shortly.  We also were lucky enough to spend time chatting with a most of the Ontario based cidery staff to see how the event was going and what is new. I’m excited that the optimism of the sector is upbeat, though still very tough to make a living at.

Barry’s Selections (In no order)

Duntroon – Black Cherry
East Street – Nature Study
Calvados – 5year Special
County – Root Beer
Ironwood – Strawberry Ciderita

Tan’s Review:

This was my second year attending the Toronto Cider Festival. The Day Drinking session of Day 2 was warm and sunny, perfect weather for cider tasting.

Tan’s Selections

If you are going to day drink, why not dive right into the barrel? I started the day at Hard Way Cider Co, with the just-launched Catawampus. Aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, with a hint of black cherry juice, at 9%abv., followed by the slightly more agreeable Ramboozle, a blend of 5 different local apples, 100% Ontario raspberries and amazing tasting notes from Caribbean Rum barrels. We circled back later in the day to discover Loco Blanco, aged in tequila barrels, was available, which was also quite nice. 

Next I took in 2 of the offerings from Ironwood: Prince Zero, a super dry cider which was nice and light in the middle of my flavour parade; and the Strawberry Ciderita, which was exactly opposite. If you’ve ever tried a can of Tempt’s No 9 cider, it’s along the same vein, though a smidge drier.

On to East Street, who really brought their flavour game. I’ve had the Watermelon Mint a few times, so I opted for the new-to-me Nature Study and Harvest Botanical. I love how East Street layers in several flavour adjuncts to give you a complex but well-balanced cider. 

Having missed the Meet the Maker event Thursday prior, I had to stop by Duxbury’s tent to try the Scumpy from their Back 50 Acres project. It’s a nice example of the style and I look forward to what comes up next.

On to Thornbury to try the Let’s Get Tropical. What a delight – juicy without being over-sweet. I really wish I’d gotten my hands on some sooner because this is a Summer cider if there ever was one, and would be killer in a sangria. 

Brickworks had a lot on offer at the festival with the new cocktail bar, but I chose just the Sour-brate.  With a base of fresh-pressed ontario apples with local blackberries, peaches and a touch of earl grey, it was a nicely balanced, medium sour cider. Hoping to find it at their Ciderhouse soon.

Finally, after picking up a sample of the rather enjoyable Berry Mint on an earlier pass, I ended the day at Forbbiden Cider, lovingly exchanging my last token for their Hopped Cider. Sour and Tart (just like me) and oh so good, it was the perfect way to end the day.

Event wise, the community based painting was really neat and homage to the Toronto Raptors.  The Flairtending, as always was spot on as was the music all weekend.  

Interviews:

Calvados Boulard

The only non Cider pouring at the Toronto Cider Fest  2019, Calvados Boulard Rep Stan Zelek chats with us about the unique apple product offered to the attendees.

Download episode Play in new window | File size: 19.8MB

Malus Cider

Malus cider, one of the new cideries on the block, sat down with Barry at the Toronto Cider Fest, 2019 to chat about how they came to be and what challenges they have faced,so far.

Download episode Play in new window | File size: 14.5MB

Hard Way Cider

Chatting with Hard Way Cider, at their first Toronto Cider Festival.  Defiantly one of cideries of the weekend at the 2019 edition.

Download episode Play in new window | File size: 11.6MB

Magnotta Cider

We talked with Magnotta briefly as the Saturday opened up at the 2019 edition of the Toronto Cider Festival.

Download episode Play in new window | File size: 4.8MB

Next years tickets are already available, happening August 28th and 29th, 2020.

By in Event Reviews, News, Toronto Cider Fest 1

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 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