How do you like them apples?
Would it astound you to know that cider is one of the fastest
growing segments of the liquor market in Canada?
In 2011, domestic sales for cider were up 14.5%. Imports were up
9.5%. What this means is that cider has become a lucrative business
for anyone that can produce it. This is no surprise as there are
more people becoming aware of gluten intolerance and celiac
The fact that individuals afflicted in these ways can't drink
beer is no reason that they shouldn't have any fun at all.
Cider is the answer. Because it's made from apples and contains
no grain products, it's fair game for sufferers of either
condition. It also benefits from being darn near custom-made for
the summer. If you put ice in your beer, the bartender is going to
look at you funny. Putting ice in your cider is a personal
I've been able this week to try two ciders that are coming on to
the market in Ontario: Duke's Dry Apple Cider and Alexander Keith's
Original Cider. The thing that strikes me is how different these
two ciders are.
Duke's Dry Apple Cider is a product of Tree Brewing Company from
Kelowna, B.C. It was introduced last year in B.C. and was so
popular that it's being rolled out into Alberta, Manitoba and
Ontario this summer.
It pours a colour that is pale gold to light straw and the aroma
is a very subtle apple, with a large amount of bready yeast that is
The instructions on the can say that it should be served over
ice, although I found that diluted the flavour to the point where
any individual apple character was extremely hard to pinpoint.
Without ice, it is more assertive, and reminiscent of baking apple
The description does not lie.
This is an exceptionally dry cider, without much residual sugar.
It is probably best enjoyed over ice in order to mitigate this
Alexander Keith's Original Cider is a product of Anheuser-Busch
corporation and is actually an import from Baldwinsville, N.Y.
Currently, it's only available in Ontario, but there are potential
plans to roll it out nationally if it proves to be a success
It pours a pale straw colour with some very quickly dispersing
The aroma is of red apples specifically (jonagold and red
delicious were mentioned as part of the mix at the tasting) and
there are some sulfur notes remaining from the yeast used in
It is recommended that it be served over ice, and having tried
it without, I can see why. It is very sweet, but not in a way that
is cloying or overly chemical. Over ice, it balances out and
becomes quite refreshing. The finish is actually drying, tart and
For my taste, I actually find myself preferring the Keith's
It seems to make more sense to me that a product designed to be
served over ice should dilute when it hits the ice and appear the
way it's meant to be.
With Duke's Cider, I found that the addition of ice diluted the
flavour too much to really allow for complexity. If you prefer a
very dry cider, Duke's may be for you.
I suspect that the key factor that will decide this when the
products are both in the marketplace is price.
This is one of the only times I can remember when the product by
the smaller brewery will actually be less expensive. Duke's will be
available in the LCBO at $10.95 for a six pack, whereas Keith's has
edged toward the premium market at $14.
I imagine this structure will be approximately the same across
the country if Keith's rolls out in Western Canada.
If you're a cider drinker, you're ultimately going to have to
decide for yourself.
Take some solace in this knowledge, while you're experimenting:
If neither of these does anything for you, the cider market
continues to grow and it will only be a matter of time before there
are more choices available to you.
Jordan St. John writes about beer (and now cider, apparently)