Cider is all the rage right now and I must admit, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon wholeheartedly. Quebec is a great place to do it too; given the plethora of apples grown in the province, there is an abundance of stellar cideries to choose from. You can get your toes wet and try something sweet and unassuming, like Neige Bubbles sparkling cider fortified with ice cider; or, you can jump right in with Les Verges de la Colline’s Honeycrisp Sour Funky Brett. Whatever your taste for cider, whether it is just developing or full blown, there is no shortage of options to choose from. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
If you’re looking for an incredible selection of unique and tasty ciders, McKeown’s is a pretty good go-to in both departments. It offers seven different varieties, including draft, cranberry, pear, honey, original, spiced, and my personal favourite, hopped. The hops are locally grown and add a pleasant bitterness to cut the sweetness that you’d traditionally expect from cider. If you prefer your cider on the sweeter side, the cranberry one is a great option, with the acidity preventing it from being tooth-achingly sweet.
Hopped ciders are becoming more and more popular in Quebec, and Michel Jodoin offers one of the best there is. With zero grams of residual sugar, it’s super dry, which allows you to taste the crispness of the apples and floral, citrus notes that the hops provide. It goes down smoothly and would be great paired with anything salty or spicy. Michel Jodoin also offers a cidre mousseux, or cider that is made similarly to Champagne but with McIntosh apples instead of grapes. It’s fruity, yet yeasty, and is ideal if you need cider for a special occasion.
Domaine Neige was the first Quebec cidery to produce ice cider and it has made quite the name for itself doing just that. Its classic ice cider is perfect for after-dinner sipping, but it also offers a ton of other products that build on this traditional recipe. Its Neige Bubbles is a sparkling apple cider that has been dosed with ice cider for extra oomph. It also makes its own gin starting from apple water and ice cider. Sounds like the quintessential base for a winter cocktail to me.
Sometimes you want fancy, craft cider, but it’s also important to have a reliable everyday cider that tastes good without breaking the bank. London Calling fits these criteria. You can get it at the grocery store on your way home after work, and it is ever so quaffable.
Made with McIntosh apples, it tastes exactly like a grown-up version of the apple juice you drank as a kid. There’s also a newer apple-pear cider if you enjoy the honey-like sweetness that pear adds to the party.
Les Verges de la Colline
If you’re up on your hipster beer knowledge, you may know that Brett is a wild yeast that adds a lot of funk to whatever it is fermenting, like Les Verges de la Colline’s Honeycrisp Sour Funky Brett. It’s a mouthful to say, and quite the mouthful to drink. There’s a lot going on with the Brett, which creates a weird but not unpleasant musty, barnyard kind of taste. The cider is also aged in French oak and made from three different types of apples, so there’s a lot for your taste buds to comprehend. Overwhelmed? Les Verges de la Colline also offers simpler ciders like its Milton Star brand and a lineup of cider-based liqueurs. There’s something for all palates and curiosities!
Du Minot’s lineup of pretty, leafy bottles look just as good as the apple-based liquids inside them taste. Virtually all of its products are award winning but if you have to choose only one or two to try, the “crémant” is where it’s at. At only two and a half per cent alcohol, the effervescence of the crémant de pomme is sublime. The crémant rose differs in that the skins are left on, giving it a beautiful pink hue. If you’d prefer something sweeter and boozier, try the crémant glace, a sparkling ice cider with notes of candied apple. Heck, just go and try all of them, why don’t you? It’s too hard to choose otherwise!
Domaine du Petit Saint Joseph
Out of all the ciders on this list, the ones from Domaine du Petit Saint Joseph are definitely the hardest to hunt down, but if you can get your hands on them, the search is totally worth your time. My two favourites are the Lougarou and the Minotaure, both of which are unlike any cider you’ve ever tried before. They are so dry (in a good way), there are points where you may wonder if you are actually drinking cider. The best part is, you can taste 100 per cent of the apple flavour because there is no sweetness to mask it.