Queen Street 501 from The Brickworks Ciderhouse in Toronto, Ontario has a deep golden colour that more closely resembles a typical American lager than it does a commercially produced cider and retains a small collar of bubbles longer than most. This semi-sweet blend of Ontario heritage apples smells McIntosh-heavy, with a soft and warm baked character and background sweetness that reminds me of Cortland or Gala.
That sweetness translates through to the taste of Queen Street 501, which is similar to a higher quality, not from concentrate juice that you might find at your local mom and pop grocery. Though this moderately effervescent cider is a bit sweet for my palate, there are some mildly funky yeast notes that open things up and the finish has a nice tartness Granny Smith fans will enjoy as well as a vague sourness that might even make you pucker a bit. The body has a mild viscosity and I was typically left with a soft fuzziness on my tongue.
The Queen Street 501 can is a similar red to its eponymous streetcar, with an image of the 100-plus-year-old conveyance placed over a wordmark that’s made to resemble a street sign. The cider is made with a blend of eight apple cultivars to represent the eight neighbourhoods that the TTC 501 streetcar travels through. This makes for a cute story, but it’s also pretty tricky to nail a 5.0% ABV without adding sugar—or anything else. The ingredient list simply reads “apples”, though the freshness dating on the bottom certainly doesn’t lack in complexity.
I tend prefer my cider drier, more sour or funky, but Queen Street 501 may be the perfect entry point to “craft” cider. It expands upon the accessibility of the Strongbow or Somersby a casual drinker might order at the bar and introduces a subtle complexity that just might make them look at what goes into (or doesn’t go into) the cider they buy in the future.
I really enjoyed Queen Street 501 with a simple snack of old cheddar and wheat crackers. Sweeter ciders tend to pair well with vanilla, licorice and peppery flavours. Blue cheese and strawberries were other favourite pairings with this one, which is seasonally listed at about 200 LCBO stores and frequently available at licensees throughout Ontario.
Type: Semi-Sweet Cider
Region: Ontario, Toronto
Brewery: Brickworks Ciderhouse
Format Purchased: 473 mL
Alcohol Content: 5.0%