First Draught: Spirit Tree Draught Cider, a hard apple cider that stands out from the pack
There is a very wide gap between good and bad cider, with not very much in the middle. Unfortunately, too much of the latter finds its way onto bar tap lists simply because it’s an alternative to beer and it doesn’t have gluten.
Spirit Tree’s Draught Cider — made in large part from the apples grown by the cidery — is a stunning example of a delicious cider. It is miles away from the cloying sweetness of mass-market ciders, but it has a wider range than the bone-dry imports, plus a subtle hint of the funkiness that we find in some sour beers.
The cider pours a very light straw yellow with a bit of fizz that quickly dissipates. To me, the aroma is clean and balances apple blossoms with McIntosh apple peel, but if you’re the type who vacuums your way out of the house, you might detect a bit of a gym-sock funkiness.
The flavour opens with more McIntosh and a hint of sweetness that leads into a slightly sour finish. The tart aftertaste (like a very mild Granny Smith) lingers pleasantly. The tart-sour element means that this cider can include a bit of sweetness without being thrown out of balance.
The funkiness on the nose and the sourness in the finish are both by-products of the traditional English cider yeast that Spirit Tree uses to ferment the Draught Cider. There is some Brettanomyces in that blend, so this cider shares characteristics with many of the world’s most complex beers.
The current LCBO release has been quite popular, so depending on what part of the city you’re in, you may only be able to find it in a local pub. Luckily, it’s on tap at barVolo and a few other establishments around town.
The Draught Cider — along with Apelager Cider, Pear Cider, Estate Reserve Cider and Ice Cider — is also available at Spirit Tree’s cidery in Caledon.
In addition to covering beer, new restaurants and food trucks for Post City, David Ort writes about food and drink for several Toronto publications including his own site, Food With Legs. He is also the author of the upcoming Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook. For more of his thoughts on food, beer and life in general, follow him on Twitter or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.