I spent Memorial Day weekend in Toronto celebrating a birthday; This meant three amazing days, eating, walking, gawping at fish in the aquarium, and generally exploring this cool new city. No exploration is complete without checking out a new cider scene, and I was stoked to see what Toronto has to offer cider-wise.
After a shockingly intense thunderstorm, we headed off to Her Father’s Cider Bar for dinner and cider. I’d heard about this particular spot for more than a year. When we arrived, I was instantly charmed by seeing how the world-class cider selection is stored and displayed. Looking at the menu only increased my excitement. The cider menu didn’t fit in a paragraph, or a column, or even a page. It was a book and a chalkboard. I knew we’d come to the best place in all of Toronto, and that was before we tried the chickpea fries!
You can see some lovely photos and check out the extensive menus online: https://www.herfathers.ca
I love how the ciders are divided into styles in the menu of bottled and canned ciders. That gives the drinker enough information to really hone in on a style they like and still try something unfamiliar. Plus the flags make identifying cidery location very simple too. Check out this cider by the glass page. It's positively swoon-worthy.
My cider co-pilot Woody had an adventurous flight of ciders with different additives and fermentation technique experiments, and I tried the Single Varietal Flight from Windswept Orchards. I love apple blends, but I am always curious to try a single varietal from an apple I've not tasted singly before and this flight had two: Ida Red and Crimson Crisp. And the one apple I did know from other single varietals is the Golden Russet which has contributed some fantastic ciders.
Windswept Orchard Ciders is a relatively young Ontario cidery: started in 2016. From what I read on the website; Windswept uses foraged fruits from abandoned orchards and has invested in the future with a young orchard on the farm.
Visit the cidery website to learn more and to peek at all the gorgeous labels: https://windsweptcider.com/
Here’s Windswept Orchard Cider’s official description:
Ida Red apples are known for their sweet aromas and zippy tart finish. Light, crisp and delicate, great on it's own as an aperitif. Crafted with 100% Ida Red apples from a single orchard overlooking the shores of Georgian Bay near Thornbury, Ontario. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% 500ml 101 cases produced.I found the Ida Red a bubbly dry, delicate cider. I loved it’s pear-apple aromas and clean fermentation. It brough an airy light body and lots of bubbles to the experience. This is definitely one I’d like to seek out again.
Next up was the Crimson Crisp: a GLINTCAP Silver Medalist
Here’s the official description for Crimson Crisp:
A modern varietal with heirloom appeal, Crimson Crisp apples are rich, tart and full of flavour. Lush, vinous and textural. Crafted with 100% Crimson Crisp apples sourced from a single orchard and grown on the slope of the Niagara escarpment on Georgian Bay. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% ABV 500ml 101 cases produced.For me the Crimson Crisp smelled just like homemade apple sauce; it reminded me of ciders with a lot of Northern Spy. I like the super vivid apple aromas that make me think of the texture of ripe apples as much as the taste. When drinking, I found this cider a bit more yeasty and fermented. Something about it connoted cold though it’s serving temperature was the same as its compatriots.
I want to finish up with the Golden Russet, starting with its official description:
Rich, lively honey apple finish. Coveted amongst cidermakers, Golden Russet apples are known for their perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and tannin. Crafted from 100% Golden Russet apples grown in a single orchard overlooking the shores of Georgian Bay near Meaford, Ontario. Bottle conditioned, contains lees. 7.4% ABV 500ml 155 cases producedOh boy! This cider smells mature and farmy! The Golden Russet is the funky one of the flight! It was smart to put it last on the list, as it’s a build up to this wild and barny cider. The aromas remind me not only of barn wood but also a dry sherry. The tastes are very different from the cider’s smells. The Golden Russet tastes like pear and like a soft overripe apple. I love this one.
The food was absolutely as good as the cider, and I wouldn't trade the whole experience for anything. Toronto was a great place to visit and a fun place for cider.