toronto cider festival

Toronto's love affair with cider continues to grow

On Saturday, 2,500 cider lovers took over Yonge-Dundas Square to celebrate the fruity, effervescent alcoholic beverage that's all the rage these days.

In the 2015-2016 fiscal years, Ontario craft cider sales jumped 54 per cent at the LCBO. In Toronto,more and more bars seem to offer craft cider, and the recently opened restaurant Her Father's Cider serves only Ontario cider on tap.

Her Father's owner Joshua Mott thinks this uptick in cider's popularity has been a long time coming. But, we still have a ways to go.

Her Fathers Cider Toronto

"It's amazing to me how people come into the bar and that's their first experience of cider, or at least their first experience of cider other than the big commercial ones that aren't a good indication of what cider is," he says.

Bar Volo's Tomas Morana is also seeing the cider scene grow. "We only had one cider line for quite a long time, and then in the last couple of years we've gone up to three," he says.

More local cideries have entered the market and many are producing delicate, dry and funky beverages, notes Morana. Bar Volo - along with other bars and restaurants, such as Wrvst - brings in ciders, both on tap and in bottles, that aren't cloying or sickly sweet.

"I think it's really nice that we finally have more local options using real fruit, as opposed to artificially flavoured, mass-produced ciders," he says.

Wvrst Toronto

Along with an increase in options, more customers seem to be ordering cider at Bar Volo now, especially those who are looking for a gluten-free alternative to beer. Morana doesn't think it's just a seasonal trend - cider is popular in the winter too.

And it was certainly popular this weekend as 18 cideries, including 15 from Ontario, participated in the Toronto Cider Festival. The entire event sold out, and during the evening sessions, the lineups in front of the vendors started to grow at around 6:30 p.m. as drinkers waited around to fill up their sample cups with this trendy fermented apple juice.

"Given what the cider market is right now in Toronto, and all over Canada, there is a lot of room for growth, says Cider Festival co-founder Chris Palivan. "It's trending and people are getting on board and they're loving it."

Photos by (in order) @brodyrutledge, Jesse Milns and Hector Vasquez.

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