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.
This dry cider from Spirit Tree Estate Cidery in Caledon, Ontario is a pale, brassy yellow and has no shortage of large bubbles streaming from the bottom of your glass when poured. The smell of Spirit Tree Draught Cider is green apple-forward, with notes of crabapple, baked dessert apples, white grape and wild yeast, which creates a mild funk.
Tart and crisp are the two words that best describe the taste of Spirit Tree Draught Cider to me. Green apple and white grape flavours are balanced with a warm and mellow honey sweetness that gives way to a dry finish and a punchy hint of sourness. The cider has a full body and plenty of life on the tongue, along with a mild syrupy feel and an air of creaminess you just won’t find in a typical mass-market product. A funky yeast note lingers in the aftertaste, along with a dry spiciness that brings cinnamon and black pepper to mind.
This UK style dry cider from Brickworks Ciderhouse in Toronto, Ontario is a bright golden colour and quite effervescent when poured. Batch 1904 is made with 100% Ontario apples from the Georgian Bay and Niagara regions and has an inviting baked apple smell that’s accented by notes of earth, pepper and basil, along with a hint of farmhouse funk.
The taste of Batch 1904 strikes a wonderful balance, with flavours of sweet dessert apples that reminded me of Fuji or Cortland giving way to a tart and dry finish that’s pronounced, but not puckering, despite a vague sourness that lingers in the aftertaste along with a mild note of yeast and a touch of light wood like cedar or birch. The mouthfeel is mainly crisp, with a dainty viscosity.
This semi-dry cider from NV Konings in Zonhoven, Belgium is a light golden colour permeated by an odd greenish hue. More odd is the presence of a small collar and lace when poured into a glass, traits not common to cider. Originating from South Africa in the 1990s, Savanna Dry is made using juice from Elgin Valley apples and has a fairly unique smell among ciders available in Ontario that most closely resembles the slightly sour apple crops that get harvested here in early fall.
The taste of Savanna Dry is ironically saddled with an exaggerated sweetness and countered with a taste that is far closer to sour than anything I’d label as dry. This cider’s most unique trait is a distinct, but soft note of coconut. The sourness takes on an unfortunate vinegar character in the finish, while dryness aided by the addition of citric acid can finally be perceived in the aftertaste.