Newfoundland has its first cidery. The Newfoundland Cider Company launched Friday night, and its products sold out city wide at the NLC.
The demand for cider in Newfoundland came seemingly out of nowhere in the 2010s, perhaps because ciders were poorly known and poorly marketed here, not to mention the slim pickings available to us. For a while there, it was Strongbow or nothing. Slowly, some fine craft offerings trickled in, like No Boats on Sunday, and Yellowbelly’s Crooked as Sin Cider.
Ahead of the Cider Game
Marc Poirier and Chris Adams, the force behind our province’s first cidery, had been homebrewing cider long before the NLC starting giving more shelf space to the stuff.
Chris particularly fell for ciders during some time spent living in Ireland, where he was exposed to stuff never available in Newfoundland. He got to to try a lot of great examples of ciders, in all their variations, from dry to sweet, and smoky and strange.
Turning an Unused Orchard into an Opportunity
The revitalization of rural Newfoundland lays in the hands of entrepreneurs who are seeing and seizing opportunities.
Upon moving back home to Newfoundland, Chris couldn’t help but notice all the unused apple trees in his hometown of Milton. Milton’s unique geography creates a protected valley that apple trees do quite well in.
Locals discovered this and planted them amply many years ago, but the trees were producing more than anyone was eating, so the apples dropped to the ground, rolled around, and laid the seeds for new apple trees. This created a kingdom of apples for the Newfoundland Cider Company to put to use in their cidery. In fact, walk through the woods in Milton, and there’s just as many apple trees as spruce and fir.
There are nearly eight thousand species of apples, and Poirier and Adams didn’t plant the ones they started make cider from, so they weren’t even sure what they were making their first batches with. While there’s a nice air of mystery in their early bottles on account of this, the duo started their own orchard in Milton, in part to know what kinds of apples they’re working with. It’s our province’s first official orchard.
Plan to Offer Cider in All its Glory
Newfoundland Cider Company plans to offer the full range of their drink of choice from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, straight-up to botanical, and more. They launched with 2 core, permanent offerings listed below.
The duo is also dedicated to making cider the traditional way, as Poirier rightfully points out that the vast majority of ciders available in the province come from breweries that rely on imported ingredients, and breweries that admittedly inject their “ciders” with artificial flavours. Many of these offerings admit that right on the can, like Mad Jack, which are labelled as “apple-flavoured beer” instead of ciders.
Newfoundland Cider Company’s story is a classic tale of filling a niche and doing it right: they wanted a steady stream of quality ciders for the people of their province, and looking around their hometown, they had the apples to do it. When life gives you apples, made cider beer.
They Predicted The Demand They Experienced on Launch Weekend
Poirier was confident there’d be demand for a local cider company because consumption of cider in Newfoundland increased almost fourfold during the 2010s. He also adds that an increasing demand for locally produced products, like a cider, is entirely in-line with trends in our newly booming food and drink industry.
As well, Milton is at the gateway of the Bonavista peninsula, so it’s very well positioned to attract plenty of tourists and baycationers.
Forager Barrel Aged Cider
As with wine, aging cider in oak barrels can add desirable body, flavour, and complexity. For their Forager Barrel Aged Cider, Newfoundland Cider Company uses oak whiskey barrels to add something special and distinct to the cider. The whiskey notes wind up defining a lot of what makes this cider unique.
Forager Barrel Aged Cider is made from wild apples foraged from along the sea front and forests of Milton. “Each vintage will be slightly different from one year to the next,” Poirier adds. “Tastes will vary depending on which wild apple trees we harvest, and what type of whiskey barrels we use.”
Old Tilt is named after an old, abandoned, long-forgotten orchard in Milton. The very same place Newfoundland Cider Company established their new orchard.
Old Tilt is made using a blend of apples to conjure up a sweet, medium-bodied cider. It pairs well with a lot of seafood and cheeses like Brie and cheddar. Refreshing on a hot summer day, it works to wash down sausages as well.
One of the misconceptions of a microbrewery is that the product will be better than a larger outfit. I did try a bottle of the Old Tilt cider and my overall impression would be “godawful.” It lacks even a little carbonation, tastes way too much of the barrel it was aged in and gave me the worst case of heartburn I’ve had for some time. This is just the positive part of my experience. I wonder if the brewers even considered that old abandoned apples would make good cider. Avoid.