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Though cider was Canada’s first alcoholic beverage, the industry was wiped out by prohibition. Now, almost a century later, the thirst for local and craft is fuelling a new golden age for artisanal cider.
Ontario is Canada’s largest apple growing region. The cool, temperate microclimate of the Great Lakes produces vibrant, full-flavoured fruit with zingy acidity. While most ciders are made with dessert apples like McIntosh, Red Delicious and Gala, the revival of cider apple varietals, which are dry, bitter and full of tannins, are also making their way into the glass.
Creativity and innovation are at the heart of the cider renaissance. Traditionalists are crafting farmhouse cider on organic orchards, others are perfecting the art of aging and blending in barrel houses, while some are fermenting juice with fruits, spices and herbs in suburban industrial parks. Even breweries are experimenting with cider in the brewhouse.
You may taste
Cider balances sweetness, acidity and tannins and can range from dry to sweet, with a light-to-medium body and mild to bright effervescence. Expect aromas and flavours of fresh apple, citrus, orange blossom, baked apple, stone fruit, green apple Jolly Rancher, botanicals, spice, toasted nuts, caramel or barnyard funk.
Sip them with
What grows together goes together! Savour cider with a spread of Ontario cheeses and charcuterie, a roast chicken dinner with seasonal vegetables and apple slaw or a hearty fruit-and-nut topped salad. Cider’s acidity also makes it a great match for pizza.
Most ciders can be served straight from the fridge, though higher ABV ciders (7-10 percent) can warm up on the counter for 10 minutes. Opt for a stemmed wine glass or Teku glass; both offer ample room to swirl and the shape helps aromatics pop.
Ontario’s booming cider scene is home to over 60 cidermakers and 700 apple growers. From rosé-inspired tipples tinged pink by red berries, to dry, complex farmhouse ciders made with heritage apples, there’s never been a better time to be a cider enthusiast.
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