The first entry in Ontario’s growing craft cider market to come from Ottawa is produced by Revolution Investments Limited. Flying Canoe Hard Cider pours with a noticeable chill haze and a light orange or pencil yellow hue to it. It looks like some of the ciders I’ve made in my basement (non-clear) and frankly I appreciate that. Though there’s a soda-like head, it’s gone within a few seconds and leaves behind a persistent and fine stream of carbonation that often gathers as a tiny collar; like a string of beach sand.
Flying Canoe Hard Cider has a very familiar and traditional smell reminiscent of a classic English cider. Baked McIntosh and freshly picked green apple are complemented by notes of white grape and sweet raisin. The apple blend, sourced from Smyth’s Apple Orchard in Dundela has a semi-sweet taste to start, then shows its tartness and even has a hint of sourness to it that lends a vinous quality to this uncommonly full-bodied and viscose cider.
Local Press from Collective Arts Brewing’s Cider offshoot in Hamilton is produced with a blend of Northern Spy, Ida Red and Spartan Apples grown here in Ontario. It has a light, ever so slightly hazy golden tone that brings a Chardonnay to mind. Plenty of fine carbonation contributes to an uncommonly persistent collar and vibrant smell. Spartan seems to be the dominant variety here, giving off aromas of sweet cider and unbaked pie filling, along with a punchy vinous note.
The flavour of Local Press is in the semi-dry range, with it’s honey-like sweetness at the fore and transitioning quickly to tart on the palate and I tend to get a hint of vinegar in the finish that, while not overpowering unpleasant, creates a somewhat sour finish. There is an overall vinous quality to this light and crisp-textured cider, though I’m left with a bit of a funky tingle on my tongue that keeps it from feeling too thin.
This perry from Double Trouble Brewing Co. is made from Ontario-grown Bosc and Bartlett apples in Stony Creek and has a faint golden yellow hue reminiscent of a light white wine as well as some wavy chill haze. Grow a Pear also smells rather vinous, with strong aromas of green and white grape that suggest a wine yeast was used to kickstart fermentation. The combination of pears creates a familiar, juicy base, though it smells more acidic than sweet and carries a light barnyard quality.
The taste of Grow a Pear shifts towards a sticky, honey-sweetened pear flesh taste that even feels a bit fuzzy like biting into fruit. There is a nibble of sourness that preludes the dry and slightly acidic finish. There are a tartness and earthiness that linger on the tongue, as well as a vague citric flavour. Despite the perry’s sweetness, it’s only mildly viscose on the tongue and has a fine carbonation that helps maintain a medium-light mouthfeel.
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.
Owned by Constellation Brands, Inc., Growers Cider Co. has produced a number of flavoured ciders of varying potability over the years. Growers Pear is the latest beverage to appear on shelves and is presented as a clear, almost colourless liquid that bears the faintest of chartreuse tones and sets free a torrent of fine bubbles when poured into a glass.
Growers Pear has a big, natural-smelling fruit aroma that really pops from the can or glass, along with a thick, syrupy quality that brings to mind a fruit cup you might pack in a child’s lunch. There are also hints of stonefruit and citrus in there, but the pear aroma is dominant and surprisingly convincing.