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Real Cider in Toronto?

I'm not often a beer drinker so in the summer when my usual red wine or gin and tonic doesn't feel very seasonal, I'm partial to hard cider. I don't mind the regularly available English/Irish varieties--Strongbow, Gaymers, Bulmers, Blackthorn, etc--as well as Grower's and the Swedish berry-flavoured stuff I've seen lately at the LCBO that's sort of like an alcoholized fruit punch. All the same, I'd rather have the real stuff.

I've had the good fortune of having "real cider" a few times, the stuff made from fermented pressed apples, rather than the standard sort that's chock-full of added glucose/fructose and filled with carbonated water. Does anyone have brand recommendations or know of branches of the LCBO that carry what I'm looking for? I've tried a few LCBOs in the west end and have only seen the same old brands.

I don't claim to be very knowledgeable about the stuff, but I'd like to broaden my knowledge of it and taste some of the best of what's available in this province. I'd prefer to get varieties I can drink at home throughout the summer but if anyone knows of some bars that have a fair variety available, let me know about those too! Thanks everyone!

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  1. I'm no expert either, but I see Waupoos cider on the lists everywhere as the cider of choice. I don't usually see more than one choice for cider on the menus.

    1. These are worthwhile Ontario, BC, and Quebec ciders at the LCBO. They come in a variety of styles and prices, so you'll have to try them all (no hardship by me). OR -- check with a Product Consultant at a larger LCBO store.

      Canada | Ciderie St Nicholas
      VINTAGES | 179473 | 750 mL | $ 12.95
      Canada | Mondia Alliance
      VINTAGES | 89490 | 750 mL | $ 12.80
      Canada | County Cider Company
      | 459370 | 1000 mL | $ 7.75
      Canada | Ciderie St Nicholas
      | 61671 | 750 mL | $ 10.50
      Canada | Vincor International Inc.
      | 384800 | 6x341 mL | $ 10.95
      Canada | Thornbury Village Cidery Inc.
      Limited Time Offer | 146043 | 4x341 mL | $ 10.95
      Canada | County Cider Company
      | 612804 | 4x341 mL | $ 13.25
      Canada | Cidrerie Solar
      | 173039 | 473 mL | $ 2.75

        1. I don't think the Waupoos cider is a patch on several kinds I tried in Quebec. I find it too fizzy and too cloying. The Clos Saint-Denis is superb.

          1. Thanks for the replies!

            I'm hoping to try some of the fancier ciders--the sort that come in wine bottles rather than cans or plastic containers--and I'll start with the Clos Saint-Denis. Frankly, I'm primarily looking for kinda "beer-equivalent ciders" that I can drink from a can or pint bottle but aren't crap loaded with sugar.

            I've had Waupoos at bars; it's not bad, so thanks for the reminder. I'll seek some out.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gumbril

              A link you may well have seen...

              So you have never had scrumpy from the barrel?

            2. There's a new cidery in Caledon -- Spirit Tree Estate Cidery -- that is putting out a hard cider any day now. They're very serious about what they're doing. http://spirittreecider.com/

              1. I've been making cider at Fermentations and it's excellent. They really do everything, all you have to do is bottle it. They have 4 different kinds, I like the English one.


                6 Replies
                1. re: crawfish

                  Crawfish -- do you know how many of the cider juices are from Ontario apples? Concentrates? Thx

                  1. re: Dean Tudor

                    I've got an appointment Saturday to bottle my first batch of cider at Fermentations. They actually have about 10 varieties of cider (no idea why their website is incomplete). I'm getting the cherry cider, which I expect will be delicious.

                    I'm fairly certain they don't use concentrates - they don't for their beers. Only their organic cider specifies Ontario apples, but that doesn't rule out local apples for the rest. It takes about 4 weeks to do a batch.

                    1. re: Dean Tudor

                      Sorry, Dean, I haven't logged on for a while. I'll check the ciders at Fermentations this weekend.

                      Of the LCBO commonly available offerings, I like Weston's Stowford Press Export Cider. Might just be the bottle though - I hate cans.

                      1. re: crawfish

                        I haven't seen that. Which locations do you routinely see it at?

                        1. re: Gumbril

                          Liberty Village always seems to have it but now that I am not in that neighborhood I am having a harder time finding it.

                      2. re: Dean Tudor

                        The organic cider is made from Ontario apples (around St. Catharines), but the rest of their apples are from BC.

                        The cherry cider is pretty crisp and tasty, though the cherry flavour is very subtle.

                    2. There's a place in Niagara-on-the-Lake called Sunnybrook Farms that makes fruit wines and a hard cider but you have to go there, no sales in Toronto.

                      1. I'm a Waupoos fan too. I found that too many of the Quebec Ciders were too sweet. Must be the variety of apple they're using. Waupoos is nice and dry. Another good cider I bought at the SAQ in Quebec (seems unavailable in Ontario) is Kerisac from Brittany. Give it a try if you're ever in Quebec or across the pond.


                        1. Had Waupoos for the first time recently and loved it. Highly recommended.

                          1. I absolutely love waupoos and it is available all over the city, I have also had the pleasure of trying pomdor which will be available at the LCBO at the end of June - I can hardly wait!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: tickmouse

                              I've taken to mixing UK ciders 50/50 with beer, because they are simply too cloyingly sweet for me to drink straight. I always thought Growers ciders are inferior to Okanagan, which is also on the sweeter side. I don't feel the same way about Waupoos cider, though, which is definitely drier and less sweet. It reminds me more of a sparkling wine than a cider. I really like it. I'm looking forward to seeking out some of the ciders mentioned by Dean Tudor that I've never heard of before now.

                              1. re: 1sweetpea

                                Odd. There used to a number of bone-dry ciders in the UK. The sweet ones were for the ladies.

                                Cider and lager is known as snakebite in the UK and had a reputation for destroying reputations.

                                1. re: Paulustrious

                                  The problem is with the limited variety of UK ciders you see here. I routinely see Strongbow, Gaymers, and Bulmers (the latter two are made by the same company, I think?); the second ingredient in all of those is some kind of sugar.

                                  I found Stone's Ginger Wine in an LCBO, which is much more obscure; I should be able to find more than 3 or 4 kinds of cider!

                                  1. re: Gumbril

                                    It's actually Gaymers and Mangers that are owned by the same company - although Mangers is known as Bulmers in Ireland (where it's made), even though it's completely unrelated to the Bulmers we get here, which is from England.

                                    One other mass-produced UK cider available here is Blackthorn, but it's not much better than the ones you mention.

                                    I don't mind the Weston's Stowford Press Export Cider which is fairly widely available. And I recently picked up a can of a new cider from Quebec called William Premium Cider - haven't tried it yet, so I can't offer any opinion.

                                    1. re: gregclow

                                      Personally, I find Blackthorn superior to the other imports, and drier. Although it is certainly still mass produced, it is widely drank in the West Country of the UK, where they love their cider. When it first came to Canada I had to stockpile it for when my dad came to visit from Bristol.

                                      They recently changed the formula in the UK, to make it sweeter to appeal more to women. After lots of outrage and lobbying, they now have two versions - the original and the sweet. I briefly saw the new in Canada - beware of a different can with improved taste written on it.

                                      Real scrumpy (or rough, as it's called by the locals) can certainly be evil, and is not to everyone's taste. My husband (who is a chemist at the LCBO) wanted to get it back to Toronto and test it - he thought it was undrinkable.


                                      1. re: mariecollins

                                        Now I like scrumpy. It is the West Country equivalent of moonshine. It does have the appearance of an aged urine sample, but the flavour id distinctly apple. There are a number of ciders in the UK at over 9% so you can end up overdoing it quite easily. That happened on my last day of high-school.

                            2. Archibald's Estate Winery east of Oshawa is an apple orchard that produces hard cider and apple wines. Their website is www.archibaldswinery.com. Their listings for cider are:

                              Hard Cider (3) $10.95 750ml
                              Hard Cider Blends(Apple Raspberry; Apple Cranberry & Apple Black Currant (3-4) $11.95

                              They also produce a number of apple wines, which are generally less sweet and have a higher alcohol content.

                              Personally, I like some of the Quebec ciders a bit better than these, and in general I think the price is too high for all cider in 750ml bottles.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jjmellon

                                I agree with your choice of the Quebec ciders. Some are great. had a few from LCBO that were excellent. Hard to get though.
                                Cafe du Lac charges a whopping $8 a glass for a Quebec cider that tastes like apple juice. Very disappointing.

                                Cafe du Lac
                                2350 Lake Shore Blvd W, Toronto, ON M8V, CA

                                1. re: jjmellon

                                  I really enjoy Archibald's Ida Red Oak Aged wine, but I find their ciders are sickly sweet. Mind you, I've only had the regular cider; I imagine the Apple Cran would be more tart and dry.

                                2. I just tried William Cider, which is Canadian and comes in a grey-silver tin and has only very recently appeared at my nearest LCBO. It's got added sugar but its only other ingredient is fermented apple stuff--no carbonated water or caramel colouring or anything.

                                  It has a good beery-apple taste with a bit of acidity and while it could be drier, it's pretty good.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Gumbril

                                    I have to agree. I was really craving some cider while watching the world cup matches today, so I trekked off to the nearest LCBO on the less glamourous stretch of the Danforth. They had Waupoos, Bulmer, Blackthorn and Strongbow. They also had William and another cider from Picton in a 1 litre bottle. when I looked closely, the 1 litre was $7.75, whereas William in 473ml cans was only $2.75. I also noticed that William is certified organic and has no artificial additives. I grabbed a couple of cans and chilled them. It turned out to be the best version of cider I have had outside of the UK. It is a lot better than the UK imports and I think it is far superior to Waupoos and Growers. It is fairly dry, but with a touch of sweetness, crisp, appley and has no chemical aftertaste. It was the perfect accompaniment to watching Oz get its ass handed to it by Deutschland. I might need 3 cans for the next England game!

                                    1. re: munchieHK

                                      Glad you liked it too! I was really pleasantly surprised. And if Spain's luck doesn't improve I'm going to have to keep drinking it.

                                      1. re: Gumbril

                                        Ahh, if only they could import some cider from Casa Mingo in Madrid. Miss that place!

                                    2. re: Gumbril

                                      I'm pretty sure there is only one type of William Cider and it does NOT contain added sugar, only organic apples and CO2. It is terrific and costs less than the other imported European ciders and doesn't have the additives like GMO beet sugar and GMO high fructose corn syrup (glucose/fructose in Canada) that the ciders from Molson and other big breweries have.

                                      1. re: dobyblue

                                        Dobyblue, William is no longer 100% organic; but it is still gluten free. The LCBO instructed the producer to remove the gluten free statement, I suppose to distract attention from brands that aren't.

                                        1. re: taterbrandy

                                          The only ingredient other than CO2 is organic apples, therefore it is 100% organic otherwise under Health Canada's labelling guidelines they would not be able to list "organic apples" as the sole ingredient, they would have to list "organic apples" and "apples".

                                          1. re: taterbrandy

                                            My mistake, you're right. I had a response from the company saying that they are 85% organic and need to hit the 90% bar to get the organic logo. They stated the product didn't change at all and that the apples are coming from the same orchards. How do you get 85% organic apples when they're all from the same orchards? Some pretty strange stuff.

                                        2. re: Gumbril

                                          Gumbril, William Cider (LCBO #173039) does NOT have added sugar!

                                          1. re: taterbrandy

                                            you are correct, taterbrandy. however, i just got some cans that have been rebranded. the new ones no longer say "certified organic" (disappointing as apples are one of the worst fruits for pesticide content), and it no longer has the ingredients listed (apples, fizzy stuff), and now says it contains sulphites.


                                            1. re: darlingclementine

                                              Sulphites occur natually in some fruits lemons, limes, grapes (which is why all wines say this too) and apples.

                                              As stated just up above, the company says the LCBO told them to remove the ingredients list, but the reason the "organic" is removed is because they're currently at 85% organic using the exact same suppliers of apples whereas previously they were over the 90% marker that allows certified organic label to be there. I'd rather see 100% organic label, but I think the LCBO needs to be harrassed if it's true they are indeed telling manufacturers not to list their ingredients, how supportive of informed consent is that? What, they don't want one brand to have an advantage over the newer Keiths and Molsons products that we KNOW contain genetically modified ingredients like high fructose corn syrup (labelled glucose/fructose in Canada) or sugar from genetically engineered sugar beets (which is usually the case unless it specifies cane sugar which has no GE variety)

                                              With you on the apples pesticides link, #1 fruit/veg to choose organic. The Environmental Working Group do a great service to us all.

                                        3. This jogged my memory about some French ciders I used to enjoy from DUCHÉ DE LONGUEVILLE.
                                          I've contacted the agent to see if these are still brought in (the product code is no longer recognised).

                                          1. i realize this is an ancient thread, but if anyone comes across it looking for a wonderful dry cider, try William Cider. It's organic, Canadian, sulphite-free, no added sugar. As far as I can tell, nothing but organic apples and whatever makes it fizzy. No cloying taste, no "battery acid" aftertaste like some ciders give me, no sugary teeth. It's crisp, light and subtle. It's so fantastic. Really well-priced, too, on par or cheaper than Strongbow, Bulmer's and good ol' Sir Perry. Happy drinking!

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: darlingclementine

                                              Yep, organic apples + CO2 only, fantastic product, good price, great taste. I look upon my previous faves with a bit of disdain now given all the additives in there.

                                                1. re: LexiFirefly

                                                  Yes it is, here's the product listing page where you can input your city or multiple locations close to you to see where the closest location is that has it in stock. On sale right now for $2.25/can, sweet! I'll have to pick some up this week-end.


                                              1. re: darlingclementine

                                                Still not my fave - I did enjoy the Thornbury Cider now at the LCBO.
                                                Also, has anyone checked out the Spirit Tree Cidery in Caledon? Going to take the Bristolians there in August for the acid test.

                                                1. re: mariecollins

                                                  Yes, Spirit Tree is very good. My favourite after Stowford Press (sadly not available now) and Grower's Peach (a guilty pleasure). Growers has a lot of weird flavours now at their store in Shoppers World on the Danforth (mango, blackberry, a few others), but i haven't tried them.

                                                  I also like Thornbury better than most.

                                                  1. re: Ted Richards

                                                    Oops, I meant to say Blackthorn, not Thornbury. I haven't had the latter.

                                                    1. re: Ted Richards

                                                      I drank Thornbury and William all weekend in an attempt to wean myself off of the artificial Blackthorn. They are nice but I do have a soft spot for Blackthorn.

                                                2. re: darlingclementine

                                                  I'm more of a beer/wine guy myself, but I've had a couple of bottles of Pommies Dry Cider recently. It's crisp and only slightly sweet--quite delicious. Apparently made with 'heritage' apples. It's in a clear glass bottle, quite attractive. Here's their website for more info: http://pommiesdry.com/