Because this is a beer column, I frequently find myself writing about the speed with which craft breweries are spreading across the landscape and changing the beer industry within Canada. If anything, the growth that breweries are displaying is less impressive than what we’re seeing in the Canadian cider industry. The information that I keep seeing quoted is that in Ontario the cider category is increasing by over 60% a year. On a personal level, I can tell you that while I wouldn’t even have considered cider an option three years ago, we’re now spoilt for choice.
There are interesting developments in the works when it comes to English style scrumpies and Normandy style ciders with tannic notes and brilliant carbonation. Those will show up in the next couple of years, and in some ways they have more in common with wine than with beer. The wheelhouse of the Canadian cider movement at the moment (outside of Quebec, at least) is pub style cider. It’s a category that they’re gaining space in despite the prevalence of large international brands.
One of the most accessible examples is Pommies Dry Cider. Despite the fact that Nick and Lindsay Sutcliffe began their company less than three years ago in Caledon, Ontario, they have managed to expand in relatively short order so that their product is available across Ontario and Alberta. The branding is distinct with specialty round-shouldered bottles and a cute, stylized font. You’d be forgiven for assuming that it was being marketed primarily at women.
In reality, it’s a good entry -level example of the ciders that Canada is starting to produce. It should go without saying that it doesn’t use artificial flavours or concentrate. It is not overly complex, using five apple varieties (Northern Spy, Gala, Empire, Russet and Ida Red) that aren’t traditionally cider apples. This means that it’s approachable for the average Joe whose context is simply “eating the fruit.” At 5.0% alcohol, Pommies is quite light in colour with notes of green apple, pear and a slightly lemony acidity. The finish is quite dry, making it quenching. It’s a light, flavourful beverage that’s perfectly suited to a sunny patio.
Note: If you’re in Ontario, Pommies is hosting tastings and a giveaway at select LCBO locations. Check their website for more information.
Jordan St. John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca. Sometimes cider is a nice change of pace.