The Cider Crate

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The Cider Crate Top 5 New Ciders We Tried Winter 2021

We are starting a new thing here at The Cider Crate – we try dozens of new ciders every month, but want to start sharing our top 5 every season/3 months going forward. There are so many great ciders and cideries in Ontario and beyond so this is our way to given special recognition to those that really stood out to us.

  1. Shale Ridge – Cherry Chocolate
  2. Duntroon – Sumac 
  3. Slabtown – Cider House Rules
  4. Heeman’s – Berry Blush
  5. West Avenue – Spontaneity

Shale Ridge – Cherry Chocolate

Right in time for Valentines Day, Shale Ridge released a beautiful Cherry Chocolate Cider that is sure to make you feel very romantic! Chocolate may sound like a weird idea in cider, but trust us, it works well! It reminded us of the cherry-filled milk chocolates you get in mixed boxes of chocolates at holidays, with the cherry being very jammy and candied – with the creamy chocolate coming through at the finish.

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/shale-ridge-cherry-chocolate/

Buy it: Currently sold out

Duntroon – Sumac

Sumac is a flower that is well used in cooking – in particular in Middle Eastern Dishes – but hasn’t been used too much in cider thus far. In fact, this is the first cider we’ve had with sumac added. Being a very dry cider, it actually has a lot of lemony notes within from the sumac, as well of course being floral. Very zippy and peppy, its an intriguing shock to the senses and a strong deviation from ciders we’ve had before. A very unique and well executed cider.

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/duntroon-sumac/

Buy it: https://my-site-102138-100343.square.site/

Slabtown – Cider House Rules

Winter may be a challenging time of year for most, but one thing that helps us get through is a good mulled cider to warm the palate and the soul. Slabtown has created a magnificent spiced cider that is creamy and yet still with a satisfying mulled punch to it. To sum up this cider, is basically an apple pie in a glass as there are bright vanilla and crust notes we could detect in this. Very cinnamon forward and just a pure delight.

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/slabtown-cider-house-rules/ 

Buy it: Currently sold out

Heemans – Berry Blush

Continuing with our theme of pastries in a glass, the Berry Blush by Heeman’s gives us some serious strawberry shortcake vibes with enough tartness from the raspberries to give it a bit of an edge. It’s very smooth and sweet, but not sugary at all. Very refreshing, bright and uplifting – perfect for Spring!

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/heeman-berryblush/

Buy it: https://store.heeman.ca/product/hard-cider-berry-blush/

West Avenue – Spontaneity

Made with crab-apples, West Avenue pulls out all of the punches for this bold and strong cider. Very sour, it doesn’t hold back – being gritty, tannic and very dry. Funky, pungent, and cellared tasting – just what fans of Spanish Sidras and heritage styles want to hear!

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/west-avenue-spontaneity/

Buy it: https://www.westavenue.ca/store#!/Spontaneity-7-8-355ml/p/242621109/category=0

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Top Dry Hopped Cider Picks for a Hoppy Easter 2021

While hops are mainly associated with beer, dry-hopped ciders are increasingly growing in popularity. When infused into cider, they typically add fruity-like notes, such as lemon, citrus, lychee and more – but can also be bitter, floral and more. Dry hopping works well for both sweet and dry ciders, and everything in between.

As Easter is right around the corner, and the Easter Bunny may be hopping into your backyard with goodies, its a great time to hop to a hopped cider for a refreshing experience!

The Cider Crate’s Top Hopped Ciders:

Duxbury – Tilted Barn

Duxbury Cider always delivers a refreshing cider experience, and their dry-hopped cider Titled Barn is no different. Made with locally grown hops, this cider runs on the dry side and is rustic, tannic and gripping for the senses. The hops are a bit gritty and bitter, but overall this cider is very smooth and easy to drink. Our strongest recommendation for a beer fan interested in trying a hopped cider.

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/duxbury-tilted-barn/

Buy it: https://www.theduxburyciderco.ca/product-page/tilted-barn-dry-hopped-cider

Peele Island – Hopping Apple Cider

Pelee Island Winery’s focus is first and foremost wine of course, but they make a very stellar cider as part of their regular lineup! The Hopping Apple is a sweeter offering, that is effervescent and bright. With a lot of unique notes presumably from the hops including bubble gum and lychee, it stands out in the field of hopped cider offerings in Ontario. Light and breezy, this has a wide appeal, especially to those who may not like hops as it doesn’t really taste like its hopped at all, but more so tropical and fun!

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/pelee-island-hopping-apple/

Buy it:  https://www.peleeisland.com/product/hopping-apple-sparkling/

Loch Mór – Hopped

Loch Mór is known for making very traditionally-based, earth-oriented ciders, and this hopped offering does deviate a bit from their other offerings – coming across as more modern influenced – but it still has familiar elements, like a tannic heritage apple base. We found this Hopped Cider to be more on the floral side of things, with a hint of citrus notes. Very crisp, it has a lighter mouthfeel, meaning its easy to knock a few of these back!

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/loch-mor-hopped/

Buy it: https://www.lochmorcider.com/product-page/hopped-500ml

Kings Mill – Hopped (Still)

Want something a bit stronger? Kings Mill has a 9% still offering that can make holiday gatherings with families a bit easier if needed! With floral notes, its a very apple forward offering that allows you to get a full flavoured experience without having the carbonation to distract (but you can also get a carbonated version of this!). Very smooth, we see this being paired well with food so consider it for your Easter Ham or Turkey!

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/kings-mill-hopped-still/

Buy it: https://kingsmillcider.company.site/HOPPED-Still-750mL-p190125486

 

Coffin Ridge – Tropical Hopped

Who said that dry-hopped ciders couldn’t be flavoured with other fun stuff as well? Considering certain types of hops give off fruit notes, it pairs very well with added fruit juices. Coffin Ridge created a wonderful cider here, bursting with tropical fruit flavours, including orange, pineapple, mango and more. This cider does contain a decent amount of hops, so it is more bitter than the standard offerings, but it balances so well with the sweetness of the fruits inside. A full flavoured, fresh fruit-punch experience, it will make you think of the sunny Spring days ahead!

Tasting notes: https://staging.thecidercrate.com/cider-type/coffin-ridge-tropical-hopped/

Buy it: https://www.coffinridge.ca/collections/cider/products/tropical-hopped

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The Cider Crate – Best of 2020

Fortunately there were still some bests’ in 2020!  Here are our favs.

~Bethany and Barry

Top 5 Overall

  1. Cold Creek – Cuvée Madeline
  2. FieldBird – 2018 Perry Sur Lie
  3. Banjo – Rouge
  4. East Street – Harvest Botanical
  5. Farmgate – Mulled

Top 5 – Apple

  1. Cold Creek – Cuvée Madeline
  2. Banjo – Dueling Banjos
  3. Twin Pines – Hammer Bent Organic Cider
  4. Front Road – Lakeside Cider
  5. Steel Town – Salvaje

Top 5 – Fruit Flavoured / Perry

  1. FieldBird – 2018 Perry Sur Lie
  2. Banjo – Rouge
  3. Revel – Pom Lam (Perry)
  4. Kings Mill – Strawberry Rhubarb
  5. Hard Way – Catawampus

Top 5 – Herbed/Spiced/Hopped

  1. East Street – Harvest Botanical
  2. Farmgate – Mulled
  3. Shale Ridge – Cranberry Spice Cider
  4. Slabtown – Watermelon Thyme
  5. Loch Mór  – Hopped

Top Fortified Ciders

  1. Loch Mór – Pommeau
  2. West Avenue – North by West Ice Cider
  3. Georgian Hills – Frozen to the Core Bartlett (2014)
  4. County Cider – Prince Edward County Ice Cider

Top Wines

  1. Hinterland – Ancestral 
  2. Pelee Island – Mousseux de Pomme
  3. Garland Sugar Shack – Maple Wine

Top 5 – Beers (Bethany)

  1. Bellwoods – Battenberg Cake Stout
  2. Short Finger – Fargo
  3. Fair Weather – Fonso
  4. Blood Brothers – Razzle Dazzle
  5. Dominion City – Small Imperial Stout w/ Pistachios

Top 5 – Beers (Barry – No order)

  • Bellwoods – Battenberg Cake Stout
  • Blood Brothers vs. Collective Arts – Feed Your Gods
  • Fairweather – Beki
  • Blood Brothers – Angelo Della Morte
  • Farmery – Pink Lemonade

Cidery of the Year

  • Banjo Cider

Runners Up 

  • Bulwark Cider
  • East Street Cider Co.
  • Slabtown Cider 

Top Ciders Outside of Ontario

  1. Bulwark (NS) – Winter
  2. Fleuri Cidres Biologiques (QC) – Hyslop 
  3. Cidrerie Milton (QC) – Première Station No. 1

Top LCBO Releases

  1. KW Craft Mixpack 
  2. Pommies – Mimosa
  3. Brickworks – The Purple Road
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The Cider Crate – Best of 2019

As we come to the end of the decade (and half of it, us doing cider stuff), we have a chance to share some of our favourite moments of the past 365 days!

~Bethany and Barry

Cider Crate Combined: Top 5 Bottles/Cans

  1. Cider 101 – Dr Peppercorn With Cherry
  2. Niagara Cider Company – No. 1 Dry Apple Cider
  3. County Cider – Blackberry Peach
  4. Burst Cider – Atoca (Cranberry)
  5. Archibald’s – Hard Ginger

 

Bethany’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Coffin Ridge – Tropical Hopped
  2. Farmgate – Founders Reserve
  3. Duntroon – Raindance
  4. Niagara Cider – Dry No. 1

Barry’s personal preferences (In no order)

  1. Revel – Coral
  2. Thornbury – Blueberry Elder flower
  3. East Street – Harvest Botanical
  4. Sulkers – Equinox

Cidery of the Year-

Niagara Cider Company
Runner Up –
Hardway Cider Co.

 

Favourite Non-Ontario

Rootstock Cider Co – Belgian (Rochester, NY)

Beers!

Bethany (In no order)

  1. Fairweather – Drift
  2. Bench – Henry On Cherries
  3. Blood Brothers – Presto Change-O

Favourite Brewery – Fairweather

Barry (In no order)

  1. Bellwood – Jellyking Blackbery Raspberry
  2. Whitewater – Pineapple Pomegranate
  3. Whitewater – Dawn Partrole
  4. Founders – Green Zibra

Favourite Brewery – Whitewater / Les Brasseurs du Temps (Tie)

Favourite Bar

Elgin Beer Project
Runner Up: Her Fathers Cider Bar

 

So that was 2019.  We also have our Map of Ontario!  Check it out and where/how you can sample our favourites!

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The Best Ciders to Keep You Warm this Winter [2019]

Now that Christmas and the holidays are over, the allure of winter can dwindle. It becomes less of the magical winter wonderland with lights and powdery snow it was in November and December, and more of a grey, slush-fest of snow squalls and un-sholved sidewalks until hopefully only March (sometimes April though!).

We at The Cider Crate want to help keep you warm and cozy. Here are our recommendations for the best ciders you can get to drink for those frosty months you may not want to leave the house at all.

 

1) Heartwood Wassail [Erin, Ontario]

This is a beauty of a mulled cider that features a wide-selection of warming spices and even a bit of pepper. You can buy it at their woodsy retail store or at the Guelph Farmers Market. It is recommended you try it heated, cooked with a cinnamon stick and maple syrup (two things they even sell with the cider sometimes).

Heartwood – Wassail

 

2) 401 Cider Co – Apple Pie Cider [Colbourne, Ontario)

Want dessert in a glass? This cider does not disappoint with creamy dessert apples, a delicate vanilla and just enough cinnamon to remind you of the pie your grandma always makes.

401 Cider Company – Apple Pie Cider

3) Thornbury Spiced Cider [Thornbury, Ontario]

Enjoyable both cold and warm, this cider is well-balanced with cinnamon, cloves and more – amongst a medley of apple flavours. A very approachable cider for most cider fans.

Thornbury – Spiced Apple

 

 

4) Ernest Winter’s Blush Cider [Newmarket, Ontario]

Looking for an offering that is spiced but also has some warming fruits? Winter’s Blush is calling your name with a nice combination of cranberry and orange – with a perfect mix of mulled spiced mixed in there too. You may get flashbacks to that Holiday Party punch you may have had too many cups of though.

Ernest – Winter’s Blush

 

5) Bootleg Whisky Barrel Aged Cider [Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario]

If sweet treats warm you up, then look for this sweeter offering that features vanilla, light spices and a smooth whisky and apple base. If you like the taste of whiskies and smooth bourbons but don’t like the astringency of the straight spirits, this could tickle your fancy.

Bootleg Whisky Barrel Aged Cider

 

6) Kings Mill – Ice Cider

You can’t discuss winter drinking without some of the finest creations made during these cold months – Ice Ciders. Made similarly to ice wine, where the apples are picked after it is below zero, these tend to be slow sippers – with Kings Mill’s offering being no different. This version may be less thick and less astringent than other versions on the market, but is still has the depth of others; while also in our opinion, being more apple-forward in taste than most. Enjoy before or after a meal, or on its own. Great both on and off ice.

Kings Mill – Ice Cider

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The Cider Crate – Best of 2018

So as we come to the end of 2018 and are third full year in operation, we are happy to look back on some of the best ciders we had the past year and our favourite locales to enjoy them!  Have a look and we hope you tried a few yourself!  We sampled over 200 ciders all year, posting reviews of close to 70 of them which resulted in over 59,000 hits on the website!

~Bethany and Barry

Cider Crate Combined: Top 5 Bottles/Cans

  1. 401 Cider – Apple Pie
  2. Hard Way Cider Co – Rogue Apples
  3. Great Cider – Ice Cider
  4. Collective Arts – Honey and Lavender
  5. Bonnieheath Estate – Folkin’ Hard Cherry Bomb

Bethany’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. 401 Cider – Apple Pie
  2. Hard Way Cider Co – Rogue Apples
  3. Duxbury Heritage – 1650

Barry’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. 401 Cider – Apple Pie
  2. Shiny Cider – Bootleg
  3. Hard Way Cider Co – Rogue Apples

Cider Crate Combined: Top 5 Ciders Enjoyed at Bars/Events

  1. Revel – Mithras [@ Tooth and Nail Brewing, Ottawa, ON]
  2. County Cider – Lychee Pear [@ Elgin Beer Project, Ottawa, ON & Toronto Cider Festival 2018]
  3. Heritage Estate – Heirloom Cider [@ Toronto Cider Festival 2018]
  4. Sulkers Cider – Rose-hip Hibiscus [@ Arabella Park, Kitchener, ON]
  5. Duxbury – Barrel-aged Haskap [@ Ciderhouse for the Duxbury & Cider Crate Event, Toronto, ON]

Bethany’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Revel – It’s Character Forming [@ Union 613, Ottawa, ON]
  2. East Street Cider – Watermelon Mint [@ Toronto Cider Festival 2018]
  3. Revel – Mithras [@ Tooth and Nail Brewing, Ottawa, ON]

Barry’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Revel – Soif [@ C’est What, Toronto, ON]
  2. Revel – Mithras [@ Tooth and Nail Brewing, Ottawa, ON]
  3. Thornbury Cider – Blood Orange [@ Toronto Cider Festival 2018 & Growler Pour from Lansdowne LCBO, Ottawa, ON]

Cidery of the Year-

Fieldbird Cider 
Runner Up –
 Revel

Break-out Cidery of the Year

Kings Mill Cider Company
Runner Up – Heartwood Farm and Cidery

Bethany PreferenceEast Street Cider Co
Barry Preference Kings Mill Cider Company

Favourite Non-Ontario

Reverend Nat’s Cider (Portland, OR)
Annapolis Cider (Nova Scotia)

Favourite Cider Event

Ottawa’s Craft Cider Celebration
Runner Up – Cider 101 with Duxbury at Cider House on Roncesvalles

 

Favourite Bar

Bar Lupulus (Ottawa)
Runner Up – Union 613 (Ottawa)

 

Thats all for 2018.  We also released our Map of Ontario!  Check it out and where/how you can sample our favourites!

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The Cider Crate – Best of 2017

So as we come to the end of 2017, we are happy to look back on some of the best ciders we had the past year and our favourite locales to enjoy them!  Have a look and we hope you tried a few yourself!  We sampled over 200 ciders all year, posting reviews of close to 70 of them!

~Bethany and Barry

Cider Crate Combined: Top 5 Bottles/Cans

401 Cider Company – The Gatsby
Brickworks – Mint and Basil
Heritage Estates – Dragon’s Gold
Hinterland Cider – Sparkling Cherry
Sea Cider Farm and Cidery – Birds and The Bees

Bethany’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. 401 Cider Company – The Gatsby
  2. Coffin Ridge – Forbidden Hopped Dry Cider
  3. Creekside Estate Winery – Rood Apples

Barry’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Sea Cider – Birds and The Bees
  2. 401 Cider Company – The Gatsby
  3. Fraser Valley – Elderflower

Cider Crate Combined: Top 5 Ciders Enjoyed at Bars/Events

California Cider Company – Ace Pineapple [Her Fathers]
County Cider Co. – Blackberry Sage [Elgin Beer Project]
Revel – Tepeche [Union 613, Brother Beer Bistro]
Steel Town Cider Co. – Guav as Fuck [Toronto Cider Festival]
Sulkers Cider – Kombucha [Craft Coyote]

Bethany’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Revel – Emergent Property [Union 613]
  2. Revel – Forks Not Spoons [Brothers Beer Bistro]
  3. Spirit Tree – Hopped [Toronto Cider Festival]

Barry’s personal preferences (In order)

  1. Garage D’or – Hailstorm [The Wolly]
  2. Revel – Tepeche [Union 613, Brother Beer Bistro]
  3. BX Press Cardamom BlackCurrant [Devil’s Elbow Ale and Smokehouse]

Cidery of the Year-

Revel Cider Co.
Runner Up401 Cider Company

Break-out Cidery of the Year

Sulkers Cider
Runner Up – Steel Town Cider Co.

Bethany Preference26 Acre Craft Cider Company
Barry Preference Garage D’or

Favourite Non-Ontario

Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse (Victoria BC)
101 Cider House (California, USA)

Favourite Cider Event

Toronto Cider Festival
Runner Up – County Brewmaster in Ottawa

Favourite Apple Drink

Nickel Brook – Green Apple Beer

Favourite Bar

Brother Beer Bistro (Ottawa)
Runner Up – The Cider House (Toronto)