When powerhouses like Keith's and Molson jump on the cider bandwagon, there's a serious trend afoot. Not surprising, really - most ciders are gluten-free alternatives to cerveza, and few thirst quenchers are more efficient on a muggy Toronto afternoon. Drink your way through this short list of Ontario hard ciders.
SPIRIT TREE PUB CIDER
This tart, balanced sparkler is the toast of Caledon. Pale yellow with a greenish tinge, notes of crushed apple and hay with whispers of white wine. Subtle tannins and bright acidity check the sugar quotient. Fills the mouth with plump bubbles and a slick finish. Spirit Tree screams session cider.
On tap at: Bar Hop (391 King West, 647-352-7476), Tequila Bookworm (512 Queen West, 416-504-2334) and other select establishments.
POMMIE'S DRY CIDER
Another quencher from Caledon, Pommie's is fermented from the fresh juice of five types of heritage apple. Bursting with bright apple notes and finishing with a persistent effervescence, this is an insanely drinkable cider, especially in the heat of summer. Serve over cracked ice for ultimate refreshment.
LCBO #244897, 4x355 ml/$12.95
THORNBURY PREMIUM APPLE CIDER
Thornbury offers easy drinking, clean and simple. Nothing complicated here, and frankly that's a selling point. Its fresh-pressed fruit hails from the heart of Ontario apple country, producing an off-dry refresher to occupy one hand while the other helps you gnaw on barbecued pork ribs.
LCBO #333583, 473 ml/$2.95
SIR ISAAC'S PREMIUM PEAR CIDER
Puddicombe Estate, one of the province's most prolific pear growers, is so devoted to cider promotion that it just hosted the second annual Ciderfest on its sprawling orchard grounds outside Hamilton. Bosc and Bartletts mingle in this lovely cider with a floral nose of ripe pear and subtle grape must. Drinks like an ephemerally carbonated white wine. Slightly off-dry but expertly balanced.
LCBO #312843, 473 ml/$2.75
WAUPOOS PREMIUM CIDER
There are few more satisfying ways to kick off a lazy Sunday afternoon than a crisp and crushable off-dry sparkler like this one. For those lusting for summertime stone fruit, Picton's County Cider Company also does Waupoos peach.
LCBO #612804, 4x341 ml/$13.35