Primarily known for their vinegars, Reinhart Foods in Stayner, Ontario recently entered the hard cider market with a sweet and light entry made from provincially grown Gala, Mcintosh and Cortland apples. Reinhart’s Red Apple Light Cider is a pale golden colour reminiscent of an American lager and yields a loose head that has surprising retention as a yarn-like collar.
This cider has a markedly sweet smell; like store bought juice and baked apple flesh. There really isn’t much subtlety here aside from faint impressions of earth and apple skin. Cortland & Macintosh are some of the sweeter cultivars of apple and that’s evident in the taste of Reinhart’s Red Apple Light Cider, with the more grounded tartness of Gala providing some balance and keeping it from the cloying side. Mild carbonation keeps sweetness at the fore and there’s a tangible stickiness to the cider.
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.
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.
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.