First ever Ontario Craft Cider Week coming to Toronto
Cider 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:
"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.
"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).
"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 ontariocraftcider.com. 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.