June 4, 2011


Many, many years ago a friend tried to get me to like cider. I wasn’t biting. I was a beer gal through and through. I like wine as well, but I’m (was) partial to micro-brew beer. There’s something about a small company that still cares about how their beer is made and what it’s made of. My favourites have always been Creemore and Muskoka, but alas, my body is no longer happy when I have them.

Once I began working on my health I thought that if I had to cut out beer, then maybe I’d switch to stout. Stout is known for being high in iron, and I’ve also heard, in calcium. There’s a saying that there is more iron in a glass (by glass I mean pint) of Guinness than a glass of milk. Whether that’s true or not I’m not sure, but I haven’t acquired a taste for it. Plus it’s not celiac friendly.

So I’ve been trying out different ciders, and it’s taking some time. With the first sip of my glass I’m always taken aback at how sweet it is. I’m not a fan of apple juice so it’s taking some time.

Now that the warm weather is here, restaurants have opened their patios and homeowners have put out the deck chairs alongside the BBQs. Along with that will be good times with friends and also times to relax after tending to the garden and it wouldn’t be the same without some kind of beverage in your hand (at least with my circle).

I’ve been sampling (oh, how rough life is!!!) and doing some digging and here is what I’ve found (and my opinion too).

Strongbow: Your run-of-the-mill cider. It’s good but there’s nothing special to it. The great thing is that it’s available almost anywhere, and if it’s a pub, well, it’s a sure thing that they’ll have it.

Stowford Press: This is nice and a tad different than Strongbow. It’s sweet but not overly so, and there’s no kick or bite afterwards. It’s smooth and thirst-quenching. I like it.

Woodchuck Draft Cider: I really like this and it’s perfect in every way. Unfortunately, it’s brewed in Vermont (picked it up on a trip to Syracuse) and not available in Canada.

Blackthorn: This cider is really, really sweet. My eyes close/wince at the shock of it. If you like the Grower’s Ciders found at the liquor stores, you’ll like this one as I find it very similar.

Gaymers: Overall this is a nice cider as it’s not too sweet. There is a tad of a yeast flavour that I’m not fond of.

Bulmers: This cider has a bit of a complex flavour that is a little hard to nail down. It’s sweet, but not too much; it’s yeasty, but not too much. This isn’t a favourite.

Magners: This is your typical cider but it has a stronger flavour and a bit of an aftertaste.  I’m not too keen on this one.

William: A nice little Canadian Cider that isn’t your crazy-North-American-sweet-type. This is a nice cider – not too sweet and not too dry, and not yeasty. It’s just right.

A proper cider should be naturally gluten-free as it is made of pressed apples. But double check before you indulge, products may be different in your region. The info added below is for the UK and Canada.

Weston & Sons: all ciders are gluten free and suitable for celiacs
Strongbow in Canada is gluten free
Gaymers cider is considered gluten free, but includes sugar from wheat. Under the EU coding, the levels are so low that it can be considered gluten free.
Woodchuck Cider (if you’re in or from the northern states) is gluten free
Bulmers Cider (and all Bulmers cider products) is gluten free


zider'ead said...

Hi, just stumbled accross your site. Blackthorn used to be a very different cider - it was 6% and a much dryer taste. They have recently started selling "original" Blackthorn again here in Bristol and the west as there were many complaints here in Cider land. In terms of mass market ciders like the ones you have sampled - Thatchers is by far and away the tasting. As a rule - if it isnt from Somerset, its not really cider!
Good read.

Pickles said...

Good to know about Blackthorn.
Things always taste differently than from where they originate, and at times it can be quite sad. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for Thatchers. I didn't become a ciderhead (although reluctantly) until last year and it's been a while since I've been across the pond. One more reason for a trip to the homeland!!!
A friend sends me a small bottle of Scrumpy's in my Christmas parcel every year, so she might disagree where real cider comes from. ;-)

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