5 places to go for a cider
Posted on June 29, 2021 | By Ashley Fitzpatrick | 0 Comments
Ciders come in sweet, sour, spicy varieties; alcoholic and non-alcoholic. In Atlantic Canada, craft cideries are springing up in direct connection to local apple production. Nova Scotia in particular is blessed with orchards with row upon row of honeycrisps and mcintoshes, but more importantly heritage varieties. They feed cider makers big and small. Some names, like Boates, you may know and return to. But have you also tried a little something from the Meander River Farm and Brewery? Visited the Corberrie Cider Company orchard? Tasted from the latest small batch at the Malagash Cidery at Vista Bella Farm? The fact the apple production is local also opens up opportunities in agri-tourism. The blossoms are done, but a walk through an orchard is a summer afternoon well spent, U-Picks are ahead and fall harvest festivities still to come. Don’t fret if you can’t get to Nova Scotia. All four Atlantic provinces now have ciders and cideries to enjoy. Be aware: like wineries, not all producers do farm or production tours, not all have tap rooms for on-site sampling, and some may require booking ahead. A quick check online before heading out is recommended.
Annapolis Cider Company-Wolfville, N.S.
Pop into the location in downtown Wolfville and pull up to the tasting bar to try the old-fashioned gravenstein or newfangled Earl blue. The Annapolis Cider Company uses apples from local orchards in its blends, pressed just down the road, and fermented and bottled at the Main Street location. While in the tasting room, ask for a peek into the working cellar or book a cellar tour. The company is proud of its “Something Different” line, having crafted about 40 related ciders to date. They feature produce grown in the valley and, as a bonus, $0.50 from every bottle is given to local non-profits, with $38,000 donated to local charities as of mid-June. The Annapolis Cider Company was started in 2016 by Sean Myles and Gina Haverstock. Alex Rice is now the proprietor, after a change in ownership, but still sharing the low and slow, cold-fermented ciders that have developed a following. There are plans to re-launch an original in a new format through Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) stores around the end of July. In the meantime, the company can ship to order anywhere in Canada.
Gagetown Cidery and Distillery-Gagetown, N.B.
Co-owner Heather Rhymes (who happens to be a red seal chef by the by) told Atlantic Business Magazine all of the apples and other fruits (peaches, plums, cherries) used in the company’s cider are grown on the small family farm now kept by her and her partner, Matt. “Matt’s family bought (what was) the Gagetown Fruit Farm in the 1970s. We took over in 2008 and it’s been trying to figure out what worked in New Brunswick,” she explained. After establishing cider production, with pressing on site and slow fermenting, they added production of spirits and formally launched their cidery and distillery business in 2017. The old barn at the farm has been renovated as a shop and bar, where the lights were made using a repurposed apple picking ladder and the cabinets formerly housed preserves in Matt’s grandmother’s house. The bar itself was milled by Matt, using wood sourced from the property. Apart from the cidery and distillery, the Village of Gagetown offers museums, trails, shops featuring the work of local potters and other artisans. There are B&Bs if you’d like to make a weekend of it. “It’s a sleepy little place with a lot to offer,” Rhymes said.
Newfoundland Cider Company-George’s Brook-Milton, N.L.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s first cidery is tucked away in a small community, found just beside the regional centre of Clarenville and close enough to St. John’s to make for a day trip from the city. The company was established by long-time friends Chris Adams and Marc Poirier in 2016 and the first two ciders – The Old Tilt and Forager – released in 2017. The pair had a hobby making small-batch ciders from foraged heritage apples but also incorporated other local fruits and flavours, including blueberry, rhubarb and elderflower. The company has come a long way since its start, reviving an old barn for its tasting room, where you can expect at least half a dozen ciders on tap at any given time. You could sample anything from a barrel-aged sour cherry to the popular Cloudy Scrumpy. Gaining notice with book-ahead experiences from their “winter dome” to new summer picnic options, the Newfoundland Cider Company has re-invested into the experience for visitors (and of course into its apple orchards). The company is currently developing a wildflower summer series, perfect for sampling during summer hours.
Little Pig Cidery-Hazel Grove, P.E.I.
When talking beverages, there’s nothing like a good pairing. In this case, we’re featuring the Little Pig Cidery along with the Deep Roots Distillery in Warren Grove. The distillery is found at the family farm of Mike and Carol Beamish, where 200 apple trees were planted in 1990, expanding to two acres by 1995. In 2013, the couple (with help from their children, extended family and friends) established the Deep Roots Distillery, releasing the Island Tide cane sugar spirit in 2014, then a vodka, gin, even a maple liqueur incorporating syrup from a son’s maple grove, but also an apple brandy using the farm’s apples. You can book a tour, including a tasting at the distillery. But the distillery also happens to be the current source location for Little Pig Cidery dry cider. The Little Pig Cidery was started after Greg and Ashley Beamish purchased some New Zealand Kunekune pigs for their own operation, to help with the apple orchard. The pigs are great post-harvest cleaners, eating fruit dropped in season. The couple have made the leap from making small-batch hard ciders for their own use to a small cider business and have partnered with the Deep Roots Distillery for sales.
Noggins Corner Farm Market-Greenwich, N.S.
A taste of hard cider can always follow a day out with the family and full agri-tourism experience. If that’s what you’re looking for, there are few places quite like Noggins Corner Farm. Apples have been grown on the property, found along the banks of the Cornwallis River (the Chijekwtook), for over 250 years. The Bishop family actually started the farm over a century before Canada became a country. There is a market on site now, full of the farm’s products and others of the local area. Book ahead to challenge the corn maze or tour the packing house and food lab. You can spend some time picking fresh apples to take home, before dropping by the food truck on site to slap some butter on fresh corn to commemorate the occasion (it’s where fans also try to luck into a taste on some Sundays of proper Jamaican jerk pork or chicken). Noggins produces hard ciders, including a vintage apple and raspberry bramble, with a non-alcoholic option as well. If you don’t get out until the fall, take a two-litre of the latter home, along with a pack of the Noggins mulling spices from the farm market, for a hot cider on the next cool evening.
About our “5 Places” series: It’s been a difficult period for small businesses, particularly in tourism and hospitality. While it’s not deep investigation, we wanted to encourage the sector by taking a moment each week to shine a spotlight on some of these small businesses in Atlantic Canada, “5 Places,” with the hope of encouraging people to make some staycation plans and get out to support local (albeit with COVID and related restrictions in mind). We’re featuring spots in no particular order, but with representation from all provinces. The series will continue at least until fall 2021, looking at some hidden gems or popular stops for ice cream, kayaks, comics and more. Any tips on BIPOC-owned businesses, ideas for future themes or general feedback are welcome: [email protected].
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