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Eat & Drink

Toronto to get its first craft cider house

Posted by Ben Johnson / March 19, 2014

cider torontoCider in Ontario is currently experiencing something of a boom and, while there are plenty of Toronto bars providing ciders that are made nearby, surprisingly, there aren't yet any cider companies actually based here in the city. But that's about to change.

The Brickworks Ciderhouse is looking to be Toronto's first craft cider and, as you might have guessed, they're looking to make their home at the Evergreen Brick Works.

As CEO Chris Noll told me, the decision to bring a craft cidery to the Brick Works has as much to do with the current tenant's philosophies as it does the area's past.

"We donate 5% of our profit back to Evergreen to help keep cities in Canada green. We chose Evergreen for their vision on sustainability," he says, telling me that none of the ingredients used in the production of their ciders travel any further than 300 km to the cider house.

Additionally, the area enjoys some historical precedent for cider making.

"The Don Valley used to be an orchard that was harvested by early Torontonians for cider -- until the trees were cut down in the early 1900s because of prohibition," he says. "If you walk it you can still find some of the trees that hung around." And that historical tie is not only good for a marketing angle, but also something that Noll hopes will prove useful from a practical standpoint.

"We would actually like to use these trees to graft a [new] orchard if possible," he says, telling me of his lofty plans to start a working orchard in the Don Valley from which to harvest apples. "We're thinking right across the river from the Evergreen Brick Works," he says. "There are open fields there."

As is a common refrain when it comes to the sale of beverage alcohol in Ontario, Noll's plans don't come without some degree of red tape. Current laws, for example, state that in order to have an on-site retail store, Brickworks Ciderhouse will need five acres of fruit trees attached to the property. While that might sound crazy, he's optimistic that his Don Valley orchard will someday help him meet that requirement, but it will take a full five years before any orchard is ready for production and his plan can start to....uh...bear fruit (sorry).

"We are currently working with the city to try and make this a reality," he says. "Just Imagine, apple picking in downtown Toronto."

And so Noll is working toward a cider house in the Brickworks that he hopes will stand as a flagship for craft ciders in Canada. There will be a small menu of local food available that pairs with the different ciders, a small general store, and, of course, an onsite cidery. The plan is to get started this winter in order to open the doors for the spring of 2015.

In the meantime, Brickworks Ciderhouse is using a blend of apples from Georgian bay and Niagara region micro-climates and is crafting its cider at a commercial cidery in North Toronto. Their first release, Batch 1904, is a UK-style dry cider, and is named after the fire of 1904 that burned Toronto to the ground.

The name is intended to honour the city's ability to continue to stand tall in the 100 years since that fire (interestingly, most of the bricks that were used to rebuild Toronto after that fire were made at the cidery's future home, the Brick Works).

But you won't have to wait until the Brickworks Ciderhouse opens to try Batch 1904. Noll tells me he's on track for a product launch during the May 2-4 long weekend when you'll be able to find 473mL cans of his cider for $3.10/can in most LCBOs. He also says he expects to be available in Toronto pubs and bars, so if you like Batch 1904, you'll have plenty of places to get it while you wait for the city's first cidery to open its doors.

Ben Johnson also writes about all things alcoholic over on Ben's Beer Blog. Follow him on twitter @Ben_T_Johnson. Or else.



Jacqueline / March 19, 2014 at 09:30 am
Elizabeth / March 19, 2014 at 09:53 am
I love cider!!
TJ / March 19, 2014 at 09:55 am
I love cider but I want a light cider please!
LC / March 19, 2014 at 09:56 am
So a brewery can sell their beer on site without growing any of the ingredients but a cidery can not? Come on, Ontario, this is ridiculous.
Ashley / March 19, 2014 at 11:34 am
Can't wait to get my hands on some!
Virginie / March 19, 2014 at 01:57 pm
This is so exciting, can't wait to buy some!
Rc / March 19, 2014 at 02:11 pm
Lc, you're right it is ridiculous! Ontario please change your law, it will only benefit our economy, craft beer and cider is one of the fastest growing industries and you're laws are not helping it to grow. We pay enough taxes!
Bob / March 19, 2014 at 03:25 pm
How are they able to sell it at Brickworks in 2015, besides to licensees, when it will take 5 years to grow the orchard? me no understand
Ben replying to a comment from Bob / March 19, 2014 at 03:47 pm
They won't have retail sales there (i.e. no take home containers). You can drink it there and they can ship it to the LCBO/bars.
Denise / March 19, 2014 at 09:44 pm
Thank god! Another cider option:) I love cider, but find the selection to be quite limited at the LCBO.
Jonny / March 19, 2014 at 10:43 pm
this sounds tasty! love the idea and excited to try some!
BLAMO / March 20, 2014 at 01:00 pm
This makes me SOO HAPPY!
I also love the historical significance of the location and product.
Yaay Brickworks Cidery!
Bee / March 20, 2014 at 07:43 pm
I had the opportunity to go to a Brickworks Ciderhouse tasting a few weeks ago. It's a dry and refreshing cider - not sweet. It reminds me of the cider I had while visiting the UK. Great taste, story and location. If you haven't been to the brickworks market on the weekends, you should check it out and support local farmers!
Realistic / March 22, 2014 at 09:18 pm
Evergreen Brick Works and surrounding land sits on the flood plain of the Don Valley. I definitely would not plant an apple orchard on land that will inevitably flood with dirty storm water and sewage. How do you like dem'apples?!
Brad / March 28, 2014 at 04:42 pm
Sounds exciting! Im glad its a dry cider and not too sweet. Cant wait to buy it at the LCBO.
Sean / July 10, 2014 at 11:39 pm
I had this cider at Last Temptation in Kensington this weekend. It was quite tasty! Tart, dry, very easy to drink.
I have not seen a hint of it at the LCBO almost 4 months after this article..
Steve / January 13, 2015 at 02:17 pm
Hmmm...from what I've heard these guys actually have nothing to do with evergreen brickworks. I'm also pretty sure that their "cider house" is a contract brewer. At least they hired an awesome marketing team haha.
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