There was a buzz this summer that was different from other summers. It was the buzz about craft cider. Now available at grocery stores, the LCBO stocked shelves wide and high with different styles by local cider makers, and neat new ciders were taking over taps at restaurants. No longer is the alternative for those who are not partial to wine or beer, craft cider becoming the new discovery for everyone.
Move over Somserby & Strongbow you have company. The Canadian hard cider industry has been growing since 1990s. In the past 2-3 years, the market has exploded. The Ontario Craft Cider Organization (OCCA) says the demand for Ontario ciders has grown upwards of 60%. Since 2013 and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) recently reported that Ontario cider sales have more than quadrupled over the last three years.
Adding to that, this summer saw 60 Loblaw stores in Ontario who added ciders to their fridges that have recently been stocked with craft beer.
“With Loblaw’s commitment to Ontario Craft Cider products they are supporting not only the Ontario Craft Cider makers, but the Ontario farmers who grow the apples we use,” said Thomas Wilson, Chair of the OCCA.
A research study conducted by The George Morris Centre at the University of Toronto projected that Ontario craft ciders have the potential to be a $35-million industry by 2018. Mark my word, the buzz will be getting louder.
Cideries are cropping up everywhere. County Cider is the largest cidermaker near Ottawa. “The County Cider Company was established in 1996. Since then, the craft cider industry has exploded. We pride ourselves in growing our own apple cider varieties now create a unique range of ciders from Traditional English Style Dry to sweeter flavoured ciders”, explains Jenifer Dean co-owner of County Cider Company located in Prince Edward County.
And wineries are getting into it too. Lighthall Vineyards in Prince Edward County, along with Tawse Winery, Ravine Vineyard and Vieni Estates in Niagara have all added hard apple cider alongside with their wine portfolio.
So many ciders, where to start?
With the dizzying abundance of craft ciders, it is only natural as a Sommelier, to dive in and discover all of the different styles and flavours. Classic hard apple cider, peach, pear and berry flavoured, even root beer cider, there is definitely a cider that will quench your thirst. I discovered that we are on the brink of 100 different ciders made in Ontario. With so many and so little time, Savvy Company has launched In-Cider Picks, a different assortment of Ontario made ciders each month during the summer that is delivered to your deck or dock. This trumps going to the LCBO or the grocery store. Savvy Sommeliers have taken the guess work out of which of the many ciders to buy & hand delivering the best bottles for you. If you missed In-Cider Picks this summer, be on the lookout for it next year!
“Making hard apple cider is a new venture for Tawse Winery. Savvy’s In-Cider Picks is an excellent way for our small batch craft cider get into the glasses of Ontario cider enthusiasts”, beams Paul Pender, principal winemaker for Tawse Winery.
This is not just a summer fling with cider, the buzz will continue year round. Here are some to give a try when you see them on the store shelves or call Savvy Company 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to arrange for your special delivery.
~ 3 craft ciders you must try ~
County Cider Blood Orange
Inspired during a trip to Normandy, France, this is a hard apple cider blended with blood orange juice and essences.
An eye catching orange Lifesaver colour that looks more like a cocktail than cider. Each sip has refreshing tastes of mandarin with a tangy acidity like Starburst candy. Warning: you’ll want more than just one glass of this cider.
Price: $6.90 (500mL bottle)
Tortured Path Cider
For die-hard cider fans. Always quick to sell out at County Cider Co. shop in Prince Edward County, this is made in a Traditional British Dry Style made with bittersharp and bittersweet apple varieties that has been blended in with Gold Russet apples grown on farm. Bone dry with mineral tastes with constant stream of bubbles that your glass could be mistaken for French Champagne.
Price $7.95 (500mL bottle)
Tawse Bottle Fermented Cider
Just released in July from a winery who has been named ‘Winery of the Year’ for the past 4 years by WineAlign, this vraft cider is their first foray expanding beyond winemaking.
Un-filtered and unpasteurized, this cider was aged on the lees (in contact with the yeast) to give it a complex and rich taste. Each sip will remind you of fresh-out-of-the- over homemade apple pie. Absolutely delicious.
Price: $14.95 (750mL bottle)
What to serve with craft cider?
Just like wine, the taste of craft cider can be augmented with certain foods. Our Sommeliers would recommend to select foods that would not overpower the flavours found in the cider, so save the steak to enjoy with red wine and serve cider with steam seafood, grilled salmon, sushi, pork chops, salads loaded with fresh garden vegetables or hard cheeses, popcorn & kale chips….or simply on its own!
This article will appear in the 2016 fall issue of Ottawa Life Magazine