Where to drink/buy cider in Toronto?

Toronto is a remarkable city with many faces and great, friendly, open-minded people. It reminded me Berlin a bit, not only because of the TV tower. Cider is available here at literally every bar, pub or restaurant. To my surprise, most bars carry commercial cider from Europe such as Somersby. Fortunately, they usually also stock an alternative to this European cider from concentrate, a cider from a local cider maker Thornbury Village.

I’ve decided to check what others already wrote about cider in Toronto, and I have found at least two very good articles about where to find cider there. One from Toronto Life published Feb 2017 and one slightly older from BlogTo. Nevertheless, I’ve made the decision to compile my own list and share with you my feedback and impressions. It took me a longer while to write about all the cider spots in Toronto. But here it is!

Bars

img_7988Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen is my absolutely
number one favourite in terms of cider spots in Toronto. If I had lived in Toronto I would surely become a regular customer. You can find regularly rotating tap selection featuring local cider makers from Ontario area. Cider flights are also available. If that’s not enough, they have an incredible selection of bottled cider available as well. Since I sat at the bar I kept staring at 4 giant refrigerators stocked with cider from different regions of Canada, mainly Ontario and Quebec, but also the U.S.. Also European ciders from the UK, France, Spain and even Estonia from Jaanihanso can be found here. When I was reviewing the extensive bottled cider menu I was really img_7987confused and overwhelmed by the choice here. Fortunately, the staff was amazing and  I got a few recommendations for a number of interesting Canadian ciders. Trust me, I wanted to try every single cider on the menu and it was almost a torture to pick only a few. Here is the link to their hypnotizing cider menu. If you’re into ice cider you can sample ice cider from Quebec by the glass. Also, their cocktails are based on cider if you are a fan. Even the food there tastes incredible. Pure heaven! I actually wanted to pay them a visit again on Monday but unfortunately they’re closed on Mondays so you can imagine my huge disappointment. Anyway, Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen is  a must visit spot for every cider lover.

  • Cider House 391 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto ON M6R 2N1

img_7929Located in the middle of the Polish neighbourhood on Roncesvalles, the Cider House is a nice and cosy bar that has a wide selection of regional cider from Ontario on tap. Cider flights featuring 4 different ciders are available here at 9 CAD and are slightly cheaper than at Her Father’s Cider Bar & Kitchen. My tasting notes from the visit there can be found here. They also serve food but I wasn’t hungry at the time. Fortunately, Cider House is open on Mondays so I came here one more time before heading to the airport as it was close to Bloor, an UP Express station.

img_7950Birreria Volo, as the name already indicates, is located in Little Italy. It’s actually well-hidden and it took me a while to find the place. It’s pretty dark with minimalist and modern design that appealed to me. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the dim light in the place. As for cider, at Birreria Volo they usually have 2 to 4 changing regional ciders available on draught. Click here to see what is currently available on tap. Again, they even have Estonian cider from Jaanihanso by the glass. I came here a few times as it was close to my airbnb accommodation and I just enjoyed being there.

img_7962Tequila Bookworm is a lively bar based in the popular shopping street in Toronto, Queen Street West. Again, it was similarly hidden just like it was in the Birreria Volo’s case. At Tequila Bookworm they have always at least two ciders available on tap. Since they had really weird cider (at least to me) on offer at the time of my visit, such as Vanilla Ice Cream Apple Pie Milkshake cider from Revel Cider Company or Hopped Peach Cider (I’m not a fan of hopped cider) from the West Avenue Cider Company, I’ve decided not to stay there longer and continued my search for cider spots in Toronto. But if you’re not a cider purist like me, you might enjoy your glass of cider here.

Since I’ve decided to explore Toronto on foot, which turned out to be a terrible idea as I wasn’t aware that streets can be that long here, I didn’t manage to check The Only Cafe. But I hear that they also have a great cider selection. 5 changing regional craft ciders on tap. For their current line-up check here.

  • Wvrst 609 King Street West, Toronto ON, M5V 1M5

Wvrst is another place famous for craft cider, and sausages, I would guess (Wurst is German for sausage) that I didn’t manage to check out as it was on the other side of the city and thus not part of my route. However, from what I read now about this place, I do regret that I didn’t pay them a visit. Next time!

SHOPS 

img_7961In terms of shops, you will find cider at special stores that have a licence to sell alcohol called LCBO. I was told that ice cider is available only in the winter here. They have many stores around the city and the state. You can also purchase cider straight from the source if you decide to visit a tasting room of one of the local cider makers. Check out the website of the Ontario Craft Cider Association to see the list of local cideries. Cheers!

 

If there are more cider spots in Toronto worth mentioning, just drop me a line! I would be happy to update my post.

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West Milton Lancombe Rising

To tell the truth, I didn’t know much about the West Milton Cider Company before I purchased their cider. I was rather intrigued by the shape of the bottle as it was unusual for a cider coming from the UK. In that bottle happened to be their sparkling and award-winning Lancombe Rising, which turned the French cider world upside down in 2009, when it was awarded Gold at the Senator Christian Revet Cup, a prestigious cider competition in Normandy, France. West Milton Cider Co. has won a succession of awards in recent years, from the Royal Bath & West Show, and Taste of the West. Langcombe Rising is made by keeving, a typically French cidermaking process that retains the natural sweetness in cider.Company: West Milton Cider Co
Place of Origin: 1 Pear Tree Cottages, West Milton, Bridport, Dorset, UK
Apples: a blend including Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Chisel Jersey.
Sweetness as per label: keeved cider
ABV: 5%
Package type: 375ml clear champagne corked bottle
Recommended type of glass: flute, chalice glass or wine glass

Appearance: pours a hazy pale amber with a massive head, which only slowly dissipates. Highly carbonated, with beautiful strings of bubbles. Body is medium. Sediment in the bottle.

Aroma/Nose: the nose has apricots, raisins, overripe and fermented apples with wood. A beautiful scent typical for French cidre that makes your mouth water.

Taste: it starts slightly sweet with low acidity and a hint of vinegar. Followed by dried fruits such as apricots, raisins and fermented apples. I can also get a bit watery taste with a smoky note, a lingering taste of wood with a medium to high astringency, a hint of lemon and a distant barnyard note.

Overall: it feels strange to drink a French-style cider from the UK. But Lancombe Rising tastes really good and indeed more refreshing that many French cidres that I have tried so far. It has a beautiful nose, good structure, and many lovely flavours on the palate. Lancombe Rising perfectly complimented my evening. I will be back for more. 5/6 

Availability: in the UK from Cider Supermarket. In other European countries e.g. from Cider Lab.

Price: purchased online from Cider Lab at 6.50 EUR.

Where to drink/buy cider in Vienna?

I didn’t spend enough time in Vienna to properly explore the city in terms of cider. But, I will share with you two bars, where you can find real cider.
img_6894Bars/Pubs

They usually have three ciders on tap, but in the summer they reduce the number of ciders available on tap to only one. I think that it’s rather strange as I would assume, that cider is more popular in the summer time? What else can cool you better than a glass of lightly chilled cider? As for cider available here, you can purchase the local Big Arlet from Gusswerk Brauerei. No bottled cider here. Also, they serve food here. I can recommend their pastrami. Delicious!

Mel’s is located in the centre of Vienna so if you are doing sightseeing here you will sooner or later pass by this bar. Mel’s is actually an American craft beer bar with a quite impressive selection of English cider. At least impressive for this part of Europe. Ciders available on tap feature Aspall Cyder, Westons Rosie’s Pig and Old Banger, price wise 0,25L €2.90 / 0,46L €4.80. In bottles, they offer ciders from Oliver’s Cider & Perry and Cornish Orchards. See below for Mel’s cider list. Sadly, you will not find Austrian cider here. Also, they serve food here if you are hungry, but I haven’t had the chance to try it.If there are more cider spots in Vienna worth mentioning, just drop me a line! I would be happy to update my post.

Why cider from overseas is easier​ to get in Berlin than European cider?

Last weekend I was wandering around Berlin looking for bars and shops stocking real cider. Most bars offered the usual commercially available ciders from Aspall or Strongbow, which I refuse to drink. But then, in Neukölln, an upcoming multicultural district of Berlin, I discovered a craft beer bar called Muted Horn and made there a very interesting observation. I was standing at the bar and looking at the list of ciders available in bottles when I discovered that apart from Welsh cider, Gwynt y Ddraig they stock cider from the US company Starcut Ciders, which is based in Northern Michigan.  I was very much surprised as the distance between Berlin and Michigan is around 7000 km.

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I spoke to the bartender in the Muted Horn and asked him if they offer cider on draught sometimes. I learned that in the past they had another cider from Michigan, the Death Unicorn from B. Nektar Meadery, and also one Canadian cider on draught from Cidrerie Milton, which is located in Sainte-Cécile-de-Milton, Quebec. Wow, another cider from overseas I thought. The distance between Quebec and Berlin is approx. 5.500 km.

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It didn’t stop there. Since I was already in the area of Neukölln, I’ve decided to check out a craft beer store, Lager Lager, which was just a 15-minute walk away from Muted Horn. After having a pleasant chat with the sales guy in Lager Lager, I’ve learned that they would love to stock UK cider, but the import of cider from the UK is just too costly. However, this week they are expecting an overseas container from New Zealand loaded with imported goods, including cider from Zeffer Cider Company. I calculated the distance between Berlin and New Zeland and it is roughly 18.200km! This gave me food for thought…

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I was amazed and couldn’t help but wonder, how is this possible that cider coming from overseas, outside of Europe, shipped from really really far away, is easier to get in Berlin than real cider from e.g. Somerset, UK, which is only 1300km away! Or traditional cidre from Normandy, France, which is even closer at 1100km away from Berlin? How come is Berlin a good enough market for cider companies coming from overseas, but not interesting enough for European cider makers from Bretagne or Asturias? How come a bottle of cider that has to be shipped 20.000km is easier to get in Berlin than a bottle of cider that has to be shipped 1000km, which is only 5% of this route? Shouldn’t the shipping cost be proportionally lower for a cider from Somerset?

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I gave my observation some thought and I see a number of possible explanations for it. Firstly, the vast majority of cider makers operate locally focusing on farmers markets, local cider/beer festivals or supply of local restaurants or pubs. Only occasionally selling products to the US, but ignoring the rest of Europe. Depending on how you look at this matter, you may call it a focus on the regional market or a misfunctioning/limited sales strategy. Secondly, it might be a real-life example of the global village, where you can buy products manufactured 20.000km away without spending 20 hours on a plane. Thirdly,  the overseas cider has just reached the status that wines from Napa Valley once had to fight for. The first explanation is probably the closest to the truth.

Personally, I don’t mind having a glass of hard cider from the US or Canada as long as it’s not from concentrate. Seriously, I’m happy to try a cider from New Zealand without even having to leave Berlin. Lucky me! But, I want to have a choice between cider made in Europe and overseas. Unfortunately, I don’t have the privilege of choosing because, at this moment, the only real cider on draught available in Berlin is from the US and Canada. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the marketing and distribution strategy? I know, a good marketing and distribution strategy cost a substantial amount of money. But look at the Zeffer Cider Company from New Zealand. They needed funding to expand into Asia and raised $1.2 million in a crowdfunding campaign in under a week! See the article here. Learn from them because now they are taking Berlin. How about you? When will you take Berlin?

UPDATE: Just learned that most European cider makers don’t even offer their cider in kegs, not to mention recyclable one-way kegs.

Dear cider makers, please be more flexible and widen your keg offer! Cider drinkers in Berlin want to drink decent cider as well! Don’t leave us with Strongbow being the only cider available on tap :-/

Where to drink/buy cider in Prague?

As a natural follow-up to my visit to Prague back in June when I attended Slavnost Cideru 2017, I was going to compile a list of bars, shops, where you can find cider in Prague. However, after spending four days in Prague I made an interesting observation that cider is available almost everywhere in this city. Even at a kiosk, I noticed bottled cider from a craft cider maker, F.H. Prager (I reviewed their Perry here). It might not always be craft cider or real cider that is on offer, but I think it is a huge progress and it shows that cider indeed massively gained in popularity over the last few years in the Czech Republic! Also, I must admit that in terms of availability of my favourite drop, Prague is a long way ahead of my home city Berlin.

Since cider is widely available in Prague, I have decided to focus on spots dedicated to Czech craft cider.

Bars

InCider Bar is a cider bar and, thus a must-visit spot in Prague for every cider pilgrim. Based outside the touristic area in Vršovice, which is a popular neighbourhood among locals with a great selection of bars, restaurants and cafes. InCider Bar is run by Vašek, a very warm and friendly guy, who knows everything about cider and can easily recommend you a cider that will satisfy your taste buds. Usually, there are three different ciders on tap available, the Harry Sparrow from Aspall and two rotating ciders from various Czech craft cider makers. You can find their current tap offer here. Also, in the InCider Bar you will find a great selection of bottled ciders from mainly Czech cider makers, but also Slovak cider makers, and to a lesser extent Spanish, French, English, German and Dutch cider makers. For offered bottled ciders in the InCider Bar check here. If you’re overwhelmed by their cider selection and don’t know what to go for, just ask Vašek to assist you. Overall, I highly recommend visiting InCider Bar when you are in Prague!

Another spot worth mentioning here is the BeerGeek Bar. It’s actually a craft beer bar, but they usually have at least one cider available on draught. Last time when I checked they had a cider from Edge Brewing Barcelona. Click here for their list of beers & ciders currently available on draught. In addition, they stock bottled ciders from Cidrerie Kliment (I reviewed their Demi-Sec here), Magnetic Apple and Rossbach.

Cider available in Eska restaurant is exclusively produced for them by a vineyard from South Moravia, Vinařství Mühlberger.

SHOP

Dobrý Cider is a shop dedicated to cider. They have a wide selection mainly of cider from Czech cider makers such as A.K. Cider (click here for my review of their Limonka), Magnetic Apple or Cidrerie Kliment, just to name a few of them. They also stock a number of foreign ciders featuring English cider from Aspall and Dunkertons, Spanish sidra from Bereziartua and French cidre from Le Brun or Val de Rance. If you want to drink cider on the spot, you can have Aspall, which is available on tap. In addition, they run an online-shop, but when I reached out to them via email earlier this year to ask, whether they ship abroad, there was, unfortunately, no reply to my enquiry from their side.

 If there are more cider spots in Prague worth mentioning, just drop me a line! I would be happy to update my post.

Where to drink/buy cider in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is a beautiful and amazing city, but it’s a desert in terms of cider. Every bar/pub you would go to will have a Heineken or at least a selection of Belgian beers on offer but not cider. Don’t even bother asking for cider. However, I have managed to find a few cider spots in Amsterdam. I thought it would be a good idea to put together a short guide to cider spots in Amsterdam. I hope you will find it useful for your next Amsterdam trip.
BARS/PUBS

  • Beer Temple (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250, 1012 RR Amsterdam)

Beer Temple is a centrally located small bar focusing on American craft beer. However, cider lovers are also welcome as they stock a few bottles of decent cider as well. You can choose between Thistly Cross Whisky Cask Cider (500ml bottle at 9 EUR), Finnbarra’s Dry (500ml bottle at 9 EUR) and Dunkerton’s Black Fox (330 ml bottle at 6 EUR). The friendly staff will help you if you require any recommendation. Guests come mostly from the US or other English-speaking countries.

Regular & Jack is a sports bar located close to the flower market. As it is a sports bar you can watch there your favourite team playing and enjoy a bottle of cider. In terms of cider, you can choose between the Black Dragon from Gwynt y Ddraig or Henney’s Medium Cider. Both in a 500ml bottle. Both at 9 EUR. Friendly stuff.

Briefly, a typical Irish Pub with a typical cider selection for an Irish Pub. On draught Magners and Strongbow. In bottles, they stock Craigies Irish Craft Cider and Crabbies.

A beach bar, but in a good way 🙂 Just try it out!

Craft & Draft is a nice craft beer bar and shop. They even have local cider on tap, the Dry Hopped from Bear Cider. In bottles cider from Gwynt y Ddraig is available.

SHOPS

A centrally located cider shop dedicated to cider. Not sure how about you, but when I  visit a different country I try to sample local products. The same is for cider. I usually search for cider made locally. So if you are in Amsterdam and willing to try Dutch cider you will find it at Appels en Peren. They have a great selection of Dutch cider, but also UK cider and French cidre if you are more into classic cider brands. I felt there like in a candy shop 😉 Highly recommended! Also, I heard they’re planning to go online soon. At least in the Netherlands.

It’s a supermarket, which also stocks cider. They stock mostly widely available commercial brands, but cider from craft cider producers is also available.

If there are more cider spots in Amsterdam worth mentioning, just drop me a line! I would be happy to update my post.

Note: This post would not be possible without the help of Margot from Het Ciderhuis and Mark from Ciderlab.nl. Thank you! :-)))

Cyderia – a cider bar in Warsaw. CLOSED!

17580060_10155018600140915_1766409165_nCyderia is a cider bar, which has just recently opened in Warsaw, Poland. The owners wanted to open a bar specialized in cider and resembling a typical Asturias cider bar, but with a modern touch.

What is intriguing is that right before the opening was announced on their Facebook page, they had around 1500 followers! Seems that their marketing strategy is effective. I’ve just checked how many followers they have today: 2280. Not bad!

Location-wise, Cyderia sits on Poznanska street, which is currently the hottest meeting spot in Warsaw. On the same street, there are many other good bars, restaurants and cafes. However, they usually don’t have any real cider.

So much for the introduction. This I how my visit to Cyderia looked like.

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As mentioned already, Cyderia has been open for all of around 1 month and when I walked in there on a Saturday evening around 8.30pm, I was quite surprised that literally only two tables were occupied. I sat by the window figuring out that this would be the best spot to watch people walking in and observing the situation at the bar.

The interior design looks modern, with minimalist furniture arrangements and tasteful decorations. In the background, there was lounge music playing (before the DJ appeared), which didn’t disturb conversation.

Since there is no table service I had to place my order at the bar. The bartender was being very helpful and after a quick chat about ciders available, I’ve decided to follow bartender’s recommendation. Just a little note, there are no ciders on draught here, only poured straight from the bottle to a wine glass. There is, however, beer available on tap for non-cider drinkers as well as other beverages, including cocktails. So everyone will find something for his taste.

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In Cyderia you will find a good selection of ciders from the best Polish craft cider makers such as Cydr Chyliczki (check out my blog post on their ciders here), Kwasne Jablko, Smykan or Cydr Ignacow.

Interestingly, the cider board featured also a cider that is made exclusively for Cyderia, Jablko Adama. Review coming soon!

Mlody Ignac, no. 10 on the cider board was not available, hence they don’t update the board on a regular basis.

But, if you are expecting ‘Polish prices’ here, then I must disappoint you. Cyderia has reached European standards, in terms of prices. But, at the end of the day, you are getting real cider here for the price you pay, not a mass-produced beverage, such as Strongbow.

By the time I left around 10.30pm Cyderia had a good crowd. Hence, people consider it a bar to visit before heading down to a nightclub.

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In case you get hungry, they also serve food at Cyderia, so called Polish tapas. Don’t ask me what it means. Just wasn’t into food this time.

Summarizing, if you are currently in Warsaw and you are looking for a decent place to drink cider/get to know ciders from the Polish craft cider scene, then Cyderia is the place to go. I would definitely come here again.

Cyderia

Address: Poznanska 16, 00-680, Warsaw, Poland

Open hours: 3pm – 2am

UPDATE: July 5, 2017 Cyderia closed its doors for good.