After compiling a list of cider spots in Toronto I thought to share with you my tasting notes for ciders I sampled during my trip to Toronto in September 2017. Two of the covered ciders can be found almost everywhere in Toronto and probably Ontario. Although my goal was to focus mainly on cider from Ontario, as I usually prefer to sample local cider, I just couldn’t resist and say no to a glass of cider from Domaine Neige and ice cider from Domaine Lafrance, both from Quebec as they are extremely difficult to find in Europe.
County Cider Co A Tortured Path Apple Cider (ABV: 6.5%; at Her Father’s Cider Bar and Kitchen)
Ciders from Somerset, UK were an inspiration to this cider. Made from bittersharp and bittersweet apple varieties blended with Golden Russet. Appearance: clear golden, low carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: peat, Lysol (a brand of disinfecting product), very tannic, fermented apples, ripe pear. Taste: slightly watery, low sweetness, pear, light astringent taste. A touch of bitterness in the finish. Overall: I absolutely loved the rustic and peaty nose. But the palate disappointed me as it was less exciting than the aroma. I’m not a fan. 3.5/6
Domaine Neige Bulle de Neige/Neige Bubble (ABV 7.5%; at Her Father’s Cider Bar and Kitchen)
This one is from Quebec’s famous Domaine Neige, which was one of the first cideries to produce ice cider at all. Bulle de Neige is an award-winning blend of handpicked apples 80-90% McIntosh & 10-20% Lobo with addition of their Neige Première Ice Cider. Appearance: clear golden, slightly sparkling. Medium body. Aroma: sweetish with notes of ripe and juicy pears, camembert rind and caramel. Taste: slightly sweet, low acidity, ripe and juicy pears on the palate and light astringent taste. Finishes dry with a touch of bitterness. Overall: Incredibly light, not too sweet but also not too sour. I could swear that it’s a perry not cider. I double-checked with the bartender, who confirmed that it’s indeed cider not perry. On both, the palate and the nose there are no signs of apples, only delicious juicy ripe pears. Amazing! 4.5/6
Domaine Lafrance Ice Cider Harvest 2013 (ABV: 11%; at Her Father’s Cider Bar and Kitchen)
A multi-award ice cider made from three apple varieties. Appearance: clear amber, high body. Beautiful lacing. Aroma: cinnamon, apple pie, baked apples, vanilla and caramel. A touch of cloves. Taste: sweet with a caramel note and low acidity. Moderate astringent taste, baked apples, salted caramel, a touch of burnt caramel. Overall: Delicious! Indeed, a very good ice cider with a broad palate. However, it still can’t compare to the Polish ice cider from Cydr Chyliczki, which is my favourite ice cider. 4.5/6
26 Acre Handsome Cab Ride (ABV 7%; at Birreria Volo)
26 Acre Cider Craft Cider is based in Pelham, Ontario. This is their barrel aged cider matured in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Appearance: pale golden, no carbonation. Medium body. Aroma: light funk, fermented apples, pear, overripe apples. Taste: watery, dry with medium to high acidity. White wine notes, overripe apples, light astringent taste. Moderate bitterness in the aftertaste. Overall: Nice attempt, but it didn’t work out with the aging in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Would never tell that it was barrel-aged. Very average cider. 2.5/6
Revel Cider Company x 101 Cider House Tequila Ba Apfelgose (ABV 8.5%; at Birreria Volo)
This is a tequila barrel-aged, spontaneously fermented cider with apricots. A collaboration with 101 Cider House from California, U.S. Appearance: cloudy golden, light carbonation, light foam. Aroma: fruity, notes of fermented apples, apricot jam and oak. Taste: low sweetness, high acidity. Notes of fermented apple, peach, medium grapefruit bitterness and grapefruit juice, low astringent taste. Citrusy and herbal. Overall: Delicious! It’s dry, fruity and sour, but refreshing. Like lemon juice mixed with grapefruit juice. Perfect refreshment on a hot cider day. 4.5/6
Brickworks Batch: 1904 (ABV 5%; at Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill)
This cider is a dry UK style cider made from Ontario heritage apples. 1904 is the year of the Great Toronto Fire. Available almost everywhere. Appearance: clear straw golden. Medium carbonation. Low body Aroma: apple juice, green apples, refreshing Taste: watery, dry and lightly sour. Green apple, tart, apple juice, light astringent on the mid-palate. The aftertaste is dry, chalky and slightly bitter. Overall: drinkable but unspectacular. Dominating notes of the Granny Smith apples make this cider quite refreshing, but still not exciting. 3/6
Thornbury Village Premium Cider (ABV: 5.3%; at the Irish Harp Pub)
Almost every restaurant, pub or bar carry this particular cider. Premium Cider is their flagship product. Made from local apples. Appearance: clear, golden, light carbonation, low body. Aroma: fermented apples, light sulphur, fresh green apple. Taste: moderate sweetness, medium acidity. Notes of fresh green apples, light sulphur, light astringent taste. In the aftertaste chalky with light bitterness. Overall: A pretty decent drop. Not spectacular but for a cider that is available everywhere in Ontario it tastes enjoyable. 3.5/6
Taken together, Quebec in terms of cider making is a clear number one. Cider makers from Ontario still have a lot to learn from the French-speaking colleagues as cider from Ontario tastes just fine, but usually is not exciting. The only exception was the delicious Tequila Ba Apfelgose from Revel Cider Company x 101 Cider House, which was a really great pour. Hopefully I will return to Canada soon to try more. If not for cider, then for Canadians, who are extremely warm and welcoming. Cheers!