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.
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 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.