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Look out, Toronto! Ontario’s craft cideries are about to take over the downtown core for six days and nights of discovery and revelry that just might open up some eyes and palates to this growing beverage trend that’s exploded on the drinks scene in the last couple of years.

The relatively new Ontario Craft Cider Association is holding the inaugural Cider Week 2014 beginning June 2 at various venues in Toronto all culminating on Saturday June 7 with a “Tap takeover” at barVolo with all 32 taps pouring a diverse range of Ontario ciders over two sessions.

In case you haven’t heard, Ontario craft cider is a thing, a big thing that has quickly found space at taps across the best bars and restaurants in Ontario and is slowly gaining shelf space at LCBO and Vintages stores. Cideries are springing up faster than wineries right now as consumers discover the pleasure of this diverse and natural alcoholic beverage.

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This first major event in Toronto is indicative of the popularity cider is enjoying. There will be over 40 different ciders from 15 of Ontario’s finest cider producers. The event begins at the Loose Moose on Monday June 2, and then on to Tequila Bookworm, WVRST, Bar Hop, The Only Café and ending at barVolo for a full Saturday of fun.

This event is a must for Ontario cider lovers (and those curious to learn about it) across the GTA.

chris haworthChris Haworth (left), one of the organizers behind both the Ontario Craft Cider Association and the owner of the popular West Avenue Cider company, says the cider movement is “exploding” in Ontario and the timing for the Cider Week couldn’t be more perfect.

“Timing is everything,” says Haworth. “The whole cider thing is taking off; people love the product and they are discovering it.”

The purpose of the week is show consumers the myriad styles of cider being made today, says Haworth, from lovely, fresh and vibrant house styles to single variety, single-orchard, French style, barrel-aged style cider, Champagne-style sparkling ciders … the whole entire will be on full display with plenty of surprises on tap.

Haworth’s West Avenue Heritage Dry flagship cider will be poured but he also has some tricks up his sleeve. How about the West Avenue School Yard Crab?

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Haworth dreamed up this “sour” style cider while waiting to pick up his daughter at her Toronto schoolyard and noticed some gorgeous crab apple trees on the property. The family picked the apples and Haworth made a “bloody sour but bloody good” single variety cider with what he calls just the right amount of brett (brettanomyces) that wine geeks will find intriguing.

The schedule for the week is as follows:

Monday June 2, 6 p.m.

“Meet the Cider Maker” at The Loose Moose. 16 taps dedicated to Ontario ciders and, presumably, a chance to meet the people who made them.

Tuesday June 3, 6 p.m.-10 p.m

“Scrumpy Night” at Tequila Bookworm. 12 taps dedicated to alternative and funky Ontario ciders paired with appropriately “funky” food.

Wednesday June 4, 6 p.m. until the cider runs dry

“Flight Night” at WVRST. Customize your own flight from the 17 ciders available with exclusive food pairings by the talented Wvrst kitchen crew.

Thursday June 5, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

“Buck a shuck oysters, charcuterie and cider” at Bar Hop. The name pretty much says it all. 12 taps dedicated to Ontario cider, charcuterie will be provided by Hogtown Charcuterie.

Friday June 6, 6 p.m.-9.p.m.

“Pig toast and tasting seminar” at The Only Cafe. Pork and cider on the patio.

Saturday June 7, all day

“Tap takeover” at barVolo. On Saturday, all 32 taps at barVolo will be pouring Ontario ciders. Much like other events at Volo, the event will be ticketed and there will be two sessions. There will be a 12-4 p.m. session and a 5-9 p.m. session. Ticket includes a commemorative glass and individual drink tickets will be sold separately. There will be food from a handful of as-yet-unnamed restaurants in the city and a limit of just 100 tickets per session will be sold. Pricing information will be available closer to the event date and consumers can check here for updates.

Cider Fast Facts:

ciderbottle_small Cider (pronounced: /ˈsaɪdər/ SY-dər) is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple or pear juice, but can also be flavoured with the juice other fruit like peaches.

Pear cider is often called perry and is traditionally fermented with wild yeasts found on the fruit’s skin

Ciders can be classified from dry to sweet. Their appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear, and their colour ranges from light yellow through orange to brown.

In Ontario, cider usually has a 5-7% alcohol content.

Because it is made of fruit, not grain, cider is gluten-free.

The Ontario Craft Cider Association

occa-logojpegFrom the lakeside orchards on Niagara to the micro-climate grown groves of Collingwood and all the way to Prince Edward County, Ontario cider production is on the rise.

As the leading organization representing craft cider producers in Ontario, this organization aims to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and to further the discussion on matters relating to cider in Ontario. The mission is to ensure that Ontario is recognized as a centre for cider excellence and innovation!

Learn more about the OCCA here.