By Tas Fraser
I took a little road trip up to the Blue Mountain area in Collingwood recently, strictly for a cider adventure, of course.
I was hoping to take my small hatchback but with five ladies in one vehicle, you would barely have room to breathe. Lucky for me, my partner let me borrow his truck and from then on it was smooth sailing. We rented an Airbnb at Mountain Springs (a 5-minute drive from the village) and it was cosy and perfect for a small fall getaway. The views on the drive were stunning with the long roads and red and orange leaves.
Luckily the weather co-operated, as well, except the more north you go, the more north wind you get. It was a cloudy, chilly day of 13 C but still perfect for cider.
The first stop on the list is one of my all time favourites — Thornbury Cider House, located 15 minutes away from Blue Mountain. I hadn’t been to this cidery since October 2018 and so much has changed. For one, due to COVID, they aren’t allowing indoor dining. You can enter to use the washrooms with a mask only. Thornbury has extended the patio to a large gated area with picnic tables and small patio tables.
They also have heating on the upper part closest to the building. The menu can be accessed online and you can use smartphones to scan the barcode they have on the tables, which will pull it up for you. For drink options you are able to have beer or cider in either a can or flight. In the flights you can get 4 (5 oz) glasses of cider for $10 (what a steal!).
Sadly, they have a set selection of flavours this year, so if you wanted other ciders you’d have to get them by the bottle or can. In the flight were the following flavours: Blueberry Elderflower (I ended up with 2 of these in mine somehow), Cranberry Apple (one of my all time fall favourites), Honeycrisp (new this year) and Blood Orange (sweet and refreshing). Many of these you can get in the LCBO along with another fall flavour — Spiced Apple. If you want to bring home any of the ciders they are available for purchase on the way out. I brought home a Raspberry and Blood Orange as those are not in the LCBO.
Next and last on the cider agenda was Spy Cider House & Distillery (5 minutes from Thornbury). I have tried one of their ciders in the past but have never been able to visit them. The set up was a little bit different than Thornbury.
Outside on a gravel area they have large wooden tables that can seat about 8 people, and some smaller ones for 2. You have to line up outside of the building and only one group can be inside at a time (mask required). The menu is posted on a board outside. You are able to order spirits and cocktails, cider and spirit flights, ciders and even some non-alcoholic beverages.
Once you know what you want (which can take a while like it did for me), you head in with your group and order. Staff pour the flights and you must take them back to your destination. There are also spirits and cider cans available for purchase inside. All of the ciders are 5% ABV. I tried the “Whistleblower” flight, which contains 4 (4 oz) cider samples for $16.
Included in this set were: Golden Eye (crisp & dry), Crimson Tide (golden eye infused with black currant so it is a red colour), Never Say Never (organic apples, sweeter style) & Never Say Never infused with raspberry wine. My personal favourites were the Never Say Never pair as they had the perfect amount of sweetness. The combination with the raspberry wine was incredibly delicious too! From there I took home a can of the Never Say Never and the Crimson Tide. These ciders are a bit more on the expensive side with Never Say Never costing $5.75 and the other $4.10. They also have vodka, gin, and brandy available for purchase. I would love to visit in the summer months as that would be a perfect time to sip on a cocktail!
Both cideries have their ciders available for purchase online from their website, if you can’t visit. Click here to order some of their ciders (even in a large growler) or their spirits. To purchase from Thornbury, click here to check out their cider, beer, wine and merchandise.
I’d definitely recommend a visit to the Collingwood area in any season, but in fall, the crisp October air paired with a cider is a match made in heaven. Some other places in the area to check out if you are a cider lover are on the Apple Pie Trail. Included in these stops are restaurants, orchards, and cideries in the surrounding area. Some close to Collingwood include: Beaver Valley Orchard and Cidery, Coffin Ridge (1 hour away in Meaford), Georgian Hills Winery (Ardiel Cider), & Grey and Gold Cider. The area is also home to the infamous Blue Mountain Village. It is spectacular at night and full of life. We ended up eating at “Firehall Pizza Co” and enjoyed some pasta and pizza.
Fall must-try ciders
Thornbury Spiced Apple
Style: sweeter side, cinnamon and caramel hints, finish tastes like pie
Hank’s Spiked Cider (Shiny Apple Cider)
Style: spice blend, kind of like a whisky cider cocktail, good on ice!
Ernest Apple Strudel
Style: apple cider sweetened with local honey, spiced with cinnamon
Great Canadian Cider Company Cranberry
Style: organic cranberries and apples, dry + crisp with hints of currant
Spirit Tree Pumpkin Cider
Style: pumpkin forward in flavour, semi-sweet