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Sipping ciders for spring

An ardent beer lover embraces cider, the official beverage of spring

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If cold, frosty beer is summer’s official drink, then I name cider spring’s choice to sip. Whether you choose sparkling or still, apple or another fruit, cider is laced with fresh aromas and flavours that pair well with the smell of growing grass and fresh leaves. Here are seven Atlantic Canadian options to try this season.

Hop on Board
Coastliner Craft Cider
The first thing you notice upon opening a bottle of this hopped cider is its sweet, floral aroma, followed closely by a hint of herbal hops. For a beer lover like me, adding hops to the mix piques my interest instantly. While this very dry cider is sweet, it’s not cloying. Earthy, mildly bitter New Brunswick-grown Golding hops blend well with the natural apple flavour to create a taste that will keep you coming back for more.

Chain Yard Urban Cidery
Halifax’s newest (and only) cidery made a name for itself with this offering by winning gold for Standard Cider or Perry at the 2017 Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards, the same year the cidery won Cider House of the Year. It’s easy drinking, semi-dry, and not too sweet. It’s refreshingly carbonated with lightly tropical notes and just a hint of apple on the finish. Perfect for someone trying to develop an appreciation for cider.

Red Rover Brewhouse
A semi-dry, English-style cider, and an aptly named beverage. This cider tastes the way a big crate of apples at the farmers’ market smells. It’s bursting with sweet, fresh apple taste and aroma that can’t help but invoke thoughts of spring with each sip. It’s sweet, but not sugary. In 2015, Red Rover won Cidery of the Year at the Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards, and with these flavours we can see why.

The Baker and The Brewer Sour Cider
Gagetown Fruit Farm
Gagetown, N.B.
Reading the back of this bottle intrigues instantly. It’s made with sourdough starter, which becomes abundantly clear as you pour it. The aroma is distinctly sour dough, and not entirely appealing, but have faith as this foreign smell gives way to a delicious cider. It’s not sour in the way this beer drinker expected, but it’s certainly a unique flavour with a tart edge. Like sour-dough bread infused with baked green apples.

Rummed Cider
Planter’s Ridge
Port Williams, N.S.
Annapolis Valley apples meet Ironworks Distillery’s Bluenose Rum. The Lunenburg distillery’s product lends a molasses and caramel flavour and subtle spicing to this smooth cider. It’s well balanced and avoids being too boozy despite its high ABV. This is a pricy bottle, about $11 for 500 ml, but worth it.

Ginger Snap
York County Cider
Prepare yourself, this cider is bracing. Golden in colour, yes, but the cloudy veil I peered through as I held it up to the light told me I was in for a new experience. The ample quantity of ginger in the mix nips at your nose when you smell it. Fresh, tart apples are in the driver’s seat on this one, with the ginger flavour riding shotgun. The slow ginger burn coats your mouth and leaves your throat feeling pleasantly warm between sips.

Hard Rhubarb Cider
Stone Poste Cidery
Falmouth, N.S.
You’ll find no apples in this bottle—just Annapolis Valley-grown rhubarb. Dry and sweet with a white wine-like flavour. This cider is still, meaning it’s non-carbonated. Carbonation is often associated with cider’s crisp taste, so if you’re not used to a still cider, it’s an adjustment; think of it like a dessert wine, not a party-time slammer.

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