The ever inventive late Larry Paterson (who is sorely missed) made the best apple cider in Ontario. For years I drank it, as well as cider made from organic windfalls. And I made my own cider. But now I am too lazy, so I buy it. The Ontario Craft Cider Association (OCCA) has an Ontario Craft Cider Pack at some LCBO stores. Priced at $17.95 (x6 473mL cans), the OCCA Pack has ciders currently available at the LCBO. It is a good sampler from among its 19 members – not all have ciders available at the LCBO. But these six do – and all are made with 100% juice of Ontario apples. And according to my notes many were also at the Toronto Festival of Beer at the end of July trying to make an impact.
-Brickworks Ciderhouse, Small Batch: 1904, Toronto, 5.0% ABV. Light carbonation, aromas of fresh heritage orchard cider apples from Georgian Bay and Niagara, all GMO free. Citric finish plus spices suggest apple pies. Portion of profits goes to charities. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
-Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery, Forbidden Wicked Artisanal Cider, Annan, 6.5% ABV. Cold pressed and filtered, pale colour, fresh appley flavours, lemon finish. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
-Small Talk Vineyards, Shiny Apple Cider, Niagara on the Lake, 7.0% ABV. Hot tones from the higher alcohol, but definitely apples, could double as a medium-value sparkling grape wine with its apple-lemon complexity. Producer says made from "shiny" Ontario apples. Quality/Price rating is 87 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
-Southern Cliff Brands, Pommies Cider Co., Pommies Farmhouse, Caledon, 6.0% ABV. Baked apples dominate and the effervescence is high. Did they use a wooden hand press? Some wood tones. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
-Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, Spirit Tree Draught Cider, Caledon, 6.0% ABV. Natural draught style, not pasteurized (they use a UV glass panel to destroy pathogens, no heat). Some mammal tones usually found in wine from hotter climates, may be a factor of yeast (e.g., saddles). Gives the cider texture and character. My yum-yum fave of the pack. Quality/Price rating is 91 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.
-Thornbury Village Cidery Inc., Thornbury Premium Apple Cider, Thornbury, 5.3% ABV. A bit green and lean with some grass orchard fruit notes amongst the fresh apple tones. Finishes balanced and useful for patios and parties. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures.