While pumpkins do get all the attention in fall, we're all about them apples. Whether you enjoy picking them in an orchard or packing them into your face via one of Toronto's best pies, there are countless ways to enjoy – we prefer drinking them in a crisp Brickworks Cider.
My first sip of Canadian cider (a sickly sweet nectar that shall remain nameless) was closer in DNA to Sour Puss Apple than the classic English cider I knew and loved – but thanks to a cider revival spearheaded by Brickworks Ciderhouse, things have come a long way.
Brickworks Ciderhouse: What's the deal
“Batch 1904 is our flagship dry UK-style – plain apple cider made from Ontario apples,” explains Emily Gillard, who as head cider maker at Brickworks is responsible for some of the innovative flavour profiles, ranging from rosé cider – with blueberries, raspberries and a touch of honey – to seasonal sippers like blackberry Earl Grey and vanilla oak.
Brickworks launched in 2013 when friends Adam Gerrits and Chris Noll began experimenting with their own small-batch brews in London, Ontario, naming the company after the rebuilding of Toronto following the Great Fire of 1904.
But it would take a while for Toronto to get its first cidery. “For the first five years, the guys tested new recipes on their family – not the best business model when you’re scaling up to ship to all of Ontario,” admits Gillard.
Thus, Brickworks Ciderhouse, which opened in Leslieville in 2018, became ground zero for cider lovers who act as guinea pigs every time they try one of the revolving ciders on tap. Due to its urban setting, Brickworks doesn’t have its own farm – but their commitment to supporting Ontario includes “fostering” apple and pear trees over at Black Creek Farm in North York.
“Basically the world is your oyster because you have something that’s as accepted as craft beer with more of a wine-like base,” Gillard says. “With cider, you can co-ferment fruit together and then add spices, or you can add herbs or barrel age and bottle.”
Brickworks Ciderhouse: What to eat
Chef Colin Waite looks at what’s coming up on tap and creates feature dishes to match. All plates include a suggested cider – pair pasta Alfredo with a vanilla oak cider, or crispy fried chicken with the wildly popular Batch: 1904.
With a beautiful patio upstairs, and part of Queen Street now acting as a patio for restaurants in the ‘hood, there are plenty of options for al fresco fall dining. Or grab a picnic-friendly pack with cans and meat and cheese from local stores.
Brickworks Ciderhouse: What else
The servers are super knowledgeable about what’s coming down the pipe. With up to 10 ciders on tap, a flight of four is the way to go. Get weird – the funky blackcurrant cider aged in a port barrel will knock your socks off.