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Eat & Drink

First ever Ontario Craft Cider Week coming to Toronto

Posted by Ben Johnson / May 2, 2014

Ontario Cider WeekCider in Ontario has historically been something of an overlooked category when it comes to adult beverages, which is strange given that it was likely one of the first alcoholic beverages consumed in North America--and also strange given that Ontario's climate makes for perfect apples for making damn tasty ciders.

Luckily, there are some great cideries popping up in the province as of late, they've been widely embraced by the craft beer community (among others), and, since 2012, they've been associated under the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as the Ontario Craft Cider Association (OCCA).

So it's high time the great ciders of Ontario got some of the praise they deserve. Enter Ontario Craft Cider Week.

Taking place from June 2nd to 7th, the inaugural edition of Ontario Craft Cider Week will feature six events over six days and will see over 40 different kinds of locally made cider being poured.

The schedule for the week is as follows:

Monday 6pm
"Meet the Cider Maker" at The Loose Moose. 16 taps dedicated to Ontario ciders and, presumably, a chance to meet the people who made them.

Tuesday 6pm-10pm
"Scrumpy Night" at Tequila Bookworm. 12 taps dedicated to alternative and funky Ontario ciders paired with appropriately "funky" food.

Wednesday 6pm until the cider runs dry
"Flight Night" at WVRST. 16 taps dedicated to Ontario ciders with a choose on your own flight option that will include a sausage (price TBD).

Thursday 6pm-10pm
"Buck a shuck oysters, charcuterie and cider" at Bar Hop. The name pretty much says it all. 12 taps dedicated to Ontario cider, charcuterie will be provided by Hogtown Charcuterie.

Friday 6pm-9pm
"Pig toast and tasting seminar" at The Only Cafe. Pork and cider on the patio.

Saturday All day
"Tap takeover" at barVolo. On Saturday, all 32 taps at barVolo will be pouring Ontario ciders. Much like other events at Volo, the event will be ticketed and there will be two sessions. There will be a 12-4 pm session and a 5-9 pm session. Ticket includes a commemorative glass and individual drink tickets will be sold separately. There will be food from a handful of as-yet-unnamed restaurants in the city and a limit of just 100 tickets per session will be sold. Pricing information will be available closer to the event date.

Incredibly, each event in the week will see a different selection of ciders being poured so you can imagine the events go a long way to promoting and educating people about craft cider in the city; which is, as co-founder Nick Sutcliffe admits, kind of the idea.

"We're [OCCA] scattered all over the province a bit, and not too many of our members are in urban settings," he says, "so we're trying to put ourselves on the map in Toronto a bit by coming down to where the bars and patios are."

As you might expect, Sutcliffe says the cider producers have found some easy allies in the craft beer scene. "I think they see us as brothers in arms," he says. "They're further down the path than we are. They've been [organized] for maybe seven or eight years and we're behind them a bit, but we've got common adversaries. We're fighting the imports," he tells me, explaining that even though cider is currently the fastest growing segment of alcohol sales in Ontario, the biggest selling cideries in the LCBO are from outside the province.

With events like the Ontario Craft Cider Week and support from the province's bars, Sutcliffee and the OCCA are hoping to change that, one tap at a time. "We've had a lot of support in bars in Toronto from the get-go," he says, "but next year I imagine most bars will have at least a few Ontario ciders on tap."

Further details about the week will be available shortly at As for some beverages to watch out for, keep your eyes peeled during the week for Hammer Bent Red cider from Twin Pines Orchards & Cider House, which recently took home Best in Class at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry (GLINTCAP) competition.

Also look out for "West-WVRST" a top secret collaboration between West Avenue Cider and WVSRT that's rumoured to be nitrogen-charged (yes, creamy cider). Also, West Avenue's Chris Haworth says he's got a sour cherry cider coming that will appeal to fans of gueuze beers.

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Follow him on twitter @Ben_T_Johnson



TJ / May 2, 2014 at 09:49 am
Any "light" ciders in Ontario?
iSkyscraper / May 2, 2014 at 10:21 am
Not sure cider was so much historically overlooked as much as that it was viewed as being a "girly drink" and therefore unworthy of serious consideration. We get our drinking habits from the British and Americans, after all, and when I was a student in London in the 90s you would be ridiculed if you drank cider instead of beer. Now that may have been a completely unrepresentative experience and unfair to a long history of manly-man ciders all over the UK (the stuff was 8.4%, for crying out loud), but that's my theory.!HeKkm

Fortunately that seems to be changing now, in the UK, US and Canada, and I'm thrilled to see a strong cider industry emerge in Ontario. Cheers.
Mark / May 5, 2014 at 09:06 am
Will ciders outside of Ontario be featured as well? I know Toronto Beer Week has some great events from Western Canadian and American crafts for example. Given we are pretty much following US cider trends in Ontario, would love to see some cool American ciders represented.
sad / May 14, 2014 at 04:19 pm
It's impossible to find info for any of these events. The cider website has even less info than this story. What are the prices? How to I buy tickets? Even the venues don't know.
wayne morris / December 29, 2014 at 05:53 pm
cider was never a girlie drink where I came from. I came from the county of Somerset England, and there we called it Scrumpy. Scrumpy was very strong , in fact so strong that in a pub it was only served to locals. In the old days almost every farh m made cider and it was given to the farm workers, as part of their pay. It was kept in barrels and was never carbonated. A true cider is drawn straight from the barrel and once opened, does not keep for long, about 2 weeks. The taste is usually dry. although there are different varieties now.
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