A coast-to-coast guide on Canada’s next big craft movement, Cider.
As craft breweries continue to venture further into obscurity, they create all sorts of intense hoppy, sour or high-alcohol brews that may appeal to hardcore beer fans, sure, but leave us hobby drinkers in the dust.
Well, thank god for the rise of craft cider. These days, sipping on a Strongbow or Sir Perry’s is just as embarrassing as bringing Kokanee to friend’s dinner party. Here are five cideries across the country that are making crisp, refreshing brews that offer a dynamic taste to the palate without all the bloat that comes with those pints of beer.
The BX Press
Quite literally injecting character into their cider, the complete line-up of bottles from BX are charmingly named after 19th century folks. ‘The Prospector’ is the driest of the bunch, made from apples grown on property. ‘Ginny’, named after a hurdy-gurdy saloon dancer, is especially unique, being infused with gin botanicals like coriander and juniper. Have a sip and discover one of the most memorable craft ciders in the country.
BC Tree Fruits Cider Company
A couple of years ago, the company in charge of marketing and distributing all of British Columbia’s tree fruits (i.e. apples and pears) discovered a solution for all of the misshapen fruit that couldn’t be sold at grocers: make cider! The result of their efforts is a trio of simple ciders. The basic apple and pear varieties are par for the course, but the hopped apple cider is a true standout. It’s like an IPA had a summer love affair with a young apple inn orchard, and we’re now all the better for it.
Howling Moon Cider House
It’s easy to be glamoured by the many spectacular wineries of the Okanagan, but don’t forget that there’s plenty of cider to be had there, too. Howling Moon began production of their popular beverages in 2011 in the Oliver region of interior B.C. In addition to an off-dry and dry cider, the ‘Sidre Blanco’ is made with Pinot Blanc grapes and apples for an interesting cider-meets-wine bubbly hybrid.
No Boats On Sunday
This charming East Coast producer sticks with the “do one thing really well” mentality, making just one moderately sweet cider and packages it up with slick labeling and a cute little story. The name of the cider comes by way of hardworking Haligonians from over a century ago who worked hard at the shipyard and docked six days a week, but took Sundays off. Get it?
Long before creating craft cider was but a twinkle in the Canadian cider landscape, Jodoin was harvesting and fermenting in Rougemont, Quebec. Brewing on a century-old farm since 1988, this top tier cider maker has had almost two decades to perfect its craft, and perfect it he did. The rose ciders, a mix of fermented apples and berries, are bright and effervescent and feel almost more appropriate to toast with in flutes than just sip out of any regular old drinking glass.
After finding national success and becoming Canada’s top-selling craft cider since opening in 2013, Brickworks has since been bought out by Mill Street Brewery. Hardcore cider fans may cry foul to that and fair enough, but since the buy-out, the cider producer has not compromised its quality and the most readily available, quality cider in the country. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!
West Avenue Cider
While always expanding the horizons of the cider world, you can expect nothing, but the most interesting brews to flow out of West Avenue. In addition to their regular, year-round line-up, the award-winning Ontario cidery also creates an ever-changing mix of barrel-aged and cask aged ciders. Bourbon barrel-aged, hopped cherry and hopped peach cider, are just a handful of refreshing sips you can try at the cidery or on tap at various bars in Eastern Canada.
New Ross, NS
One of Nova Scotia’s most exciting cideries would have to be Bulwark. Concocted with a variety of apples from the Annapolis Valley, its original cider is uber-dry and easy to drink, especially on a sunny day. The cidery also produces a hopped variety that offers plenty of citrus notes, as well as lower alcohol and significantly sweeter wild berry cider.
Crossmount Cider Company
Since apple orchards are not plentiful in this prairie province, it was interesting to see a craft cidery emerge for the first time this past summer. By planting hybrid trees developed by the University of Saskatchewan able to withstand frigid temperatures, Crossmount has entered the craft market with four different ciders (dry, medium, sweet and hopped), all sold in 750mL glass bottles. This cidery is not so much groundbreaking in its product as it is for being a trailblazer for the cider scene in the prairies.
Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse
Vancouver Island’s premier cidery built its foundation of creating naturally fermented apple cider and since opening in 2007 has expanded its line significantly to offer a spectrum of award-winning brews that people have come to love. The most interesting of the bunch would have to be the ‘Rumrunner’, a robust apple-based cider made with champagne yeast and then aged in rum-soaked bourbon barrels. It packs a punch!