Monday, August 23, 2021

Cider Review: Ontario Orchards' Traditional Hard Cider

Good morning, cider friends! Back to school is the main topic in my world these days, and that calls for a cider. I don’t even have any kids, so my heart goes out to all the parents dealing with back-to-school in a pandemic (again). It’s still a challenge as a university employee with a faculty spouse at another nearby college. We take breaks from meetings and emails, even this time of year, and cider can play a starring role in after-work treats. I’m happy to be reviewing a totally unexpected cider shared with me by dear friends. Thank you! 

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Ontario Orchards’ Traditional Hard Cider.  This is my first review of any thing by Ontario Orchards. This cidery is based in Oswego, New York. 

Visit them online here:

There’s not a ton of info about the cider, but I found this much, “A traditional hard cider made from our own apples and bottled for us by local winery, Bella Fattoria!” 8.2% ABV. 

I wish I knew what apples go into this!

I noticed the ABV when my friends showed me the bottle. Many hard ciders end up with an ABV of 6.9% or lower, so I was curious about what made this cider end up just a notch higher. It could be any number of things, but often they correlate to a particularly tasty beverage. It’s not that ABV inherently tastes any particular way, but ripe apples often have more sugar content. Sugar is what is transformed into alcohol by yeast. Please forgive all of this total oversimplification, friends, but it’s one reason to look at ABVs. 

Appearance: transparent, pale straw, no visible bubbles

This cider looks elegant and restrained. The Traditional Hard cider is transparent with a mild hue that looks like palest straw stems. I don’t see any bubbles, but that doesn’t mean its not sparkly.

Aromas: minerals, overripe apples, baking spices

Ontario Orchard’s cider smells of clean minerals and overripe apples. I’m reminded of sun-warmed apples sitting on a limestone fence. When I sniff again, I notice baking spice notes. Nothing is overwhelming, but these aromas are enough to whet my curiosity.

Dryness/sweetness:  semi-dry

This is a pleasingly semi-dry cider. It’s not austere, but neither is it bursting juicy. The flavors come from fermentation as well as the fresh juice. 

Flavors and drinking experience: bubbly, mellow, balanced, 

The Traditional Hard Cider by Ontario Orchards certainly brings all the fun of good strong bubbles even though I couldn’t see any bubbles in the poured glass. This cider comes across as mellow and beautifully balanced. We all enjoyed it so much. I was shocked that I’d never heard anyone singing its praises  before now. Oswego isn’t that far away. 

Something in this cider reminds me of the very few Quebecois ciders I’ve tried that use heat to concentrate the apple flavors. They are called fire ciders but they aren’t to be confused with the vinegar-based cold remedy that goes by the same name. It’s an intriguing set of flavors. 

We had the cider with savory shortbread biscuits, and this simple pairing was a perfect way to unwind after lots of busy brain time. I’ll highly recommend it to any one who has the chance to try it, and when I’m near Oswego, I’ll have to check out Ontario Orchards!