Seriously, F R E S H. The Merridale POG a nectarous tropical BOMB! Packed with juicy ripe oranges, zesty pineapple and smooth guava, Merridale’s POG transports its drinker to an imaginative bevy of tropical delights - white sands, cocktails served in coconuts, endless basking in the sun - it’s all right there, just close your eyes and enjoy. But, let’s be serious for a moment, this cider is what I’ve been dreaming of, and now Merridale has gone and made my dreams come true! Just remember, where ever you find yourself enjoying this beverage, you’ll feel bathed in a spot of fresh sunlight. To top it all off, this cider proved to be a soothing reprieve those nasty sore throats that tends to show up this time of year!
2. HOWLING MOON MAKER’S SERIES LEMON HOPS
This was another phenomenal creation from the Maker’s Series of Howling Moon Cidery. Crisp, effervescent lemon rind aromatics entice the drinker while the first sip presents a startlingly fresh Citra hop profile to the front of the palate, a kind of weighty citrus resin that coalesces beautifully with the residual sweetness of the apple base. Seamless integration of soft tannins into a hefty, velvet mouthfeel complimented by a modest carbonation level. Always as ever, I am a big fan of this edition from the Maker’s Series.
3. Naramata Dry Pear
Crisp. Simple. Beautiful. A determined army of bubbles charge the tastebuds upon the first sip of this devilishly dry perry. Decidedly cohesive, finessed bubbles reminiscent of champagne tickle the back of the throat all the way down to the back of the palate. An extra dry, bready finish also brought to mind traditional brut. Simply a light, clean pear cider perfect for patio sipping or as diverse pairing partner with anything from a wheel of rich baked brie to spicy mediterranean prawns. I enjoyed mine with a lovely assortment of hot capicolo, marinated olives, toasted almonds, and baked brie drizzled in mango habenero jelly. It was heaven. 6% ABV
4. MAVERICK HARD APPLE
A blend of tart Granny Smith and Braeburn apples, this cider hides nothing from its enjoyer. A crisp, straw-coloured delight with well-integrated tannins that result in a nicely structured, versatile beverage. Floral aromatics compliment fresh, ripe red apple characteristics followed with a big, full apple finish on the palate. A surefire crowd-pleaser with the right blend of residuals sugars and acidity, a four pack of these babies can disappear dangerously fast. The Maverick Hard Apple cider was hands down the best seller at this last spring’s East Kelowna Cider Festival - no doubt because of a flavour profile that screams with broad appeal to the masses of diverse cider lovers. It’s magic, and one sip will convert you into a believer! 5.5% ABV
5. SUMMERLAND HERITAGE CIDER WOODLAND HOPPED / DOUBLE HOPPED (DISCOVERY SERIES)
I'm including both of these hopped beauties because they both deserve recognition! I first tasted the Woodland Hopped this past spring and instantly fell in love with the resinous piney/citrus hop characteristics balanced flawlessly with a floral apple base. A good amount of sugars and acid were present in the base making for an interestingly complexity. The Discovery Series Double Hopped boasts a formidable intensity of fresh local hops that brings into play another layer - a deeper, richer, resinous characteristic in the finished cider. The Double Hopped is limited to the Discovery Series small-batch cider program that operates on seasonal rotations. 7.5 ABV
6. HOWLING MOON MAKER’S SERIES SPICY GINGER CYSER
With honey sourced from bees feeding from fireweed and apple blossoms, this fiery cider is a surprising mix of disparate awesomeness. Usually, I am not a huge fan of honey additions to cider, but I have to say that I sincerely appreciated the light natural touch of sweetness that was matched impeccably with a healthy dose of ginger. The resulting harmonizing profile was compounded by a hint of fresh-cut jalapeno peppers. A balanced dynamic of sweet and spicy, the Cyser from Howling Moon’s Maker’s Series is a decided home run in Babbling Bottles’ book! 6% ABV
7. HOWLING MOON MAKER’S SERIES VANILLA PEACH
Okay, any off-dry cider fan is going to be blown away by this handcrafted creation rom the Howling Moon Maker’s Series. A natural sweetness akin to the first bite of a fleshy, juicy peach is essentially what you’re going to get with this beauty. Vanilla bean adds another stratum of delicious spice. It’s a party in my mouth of the best variety. The sweetness of the peach is tamed in such a way that the fresh fruit flavour is imparted without being a sickly sweet dessert-style stone fruit cider. Perfect in the summer sun or paired with Thanksgiving Dinner, this is truly a versatile cider for any occasion. 6% ABV
8. REVEL CIDER SPIRIT OF THE WOODS
The only outsider to this BC line up! Infused with gin botanicals including juniper, orange rind, vanilla bean, clove, cinnamon, this complex apple + pear based cider was my new love from the start. The marketing behind this cider is brilliant with a spooky skull apple tree - perfect for the Halloween season or for any macabre-loving soul like myself. Spirit of the Woods has that rich pulpy freshness reminiscent a fresh mango smoothie. The weighty body of the cider adds to an overall creamy, full mouthfeel. I would be thrilled to try a version of this cider with a boost of added lactose to impart even more of a smooth, milky texture that retains a subtler sweetness than other sugars. 6.9% ABV
9. NOMAD PINOT NOIR BARREL
Fulfills both wine and cider lovers - this dry barrel-aged cider is an absolute treasure from the heart of the orchards of Summerland. Finely structured tannins from old growth terroir-infused apples provide ample backbone for a complex assortment of spicy, rich aromatics bursting with vanilla, bourbon, cherry, and cassis imparted from neutral French oak from previously used Pinot Noir barrels. One sip reminded me of days spent last winter doing barrel top-ups for the Pinot Noir program at the winery I worked at, a task that always meant a mornings worth of good whiffs of all that beautiful French wood spice and deep cherry cola notes resonating from each barrel. 6.7% ABV
10. DOMINION FIRST PRINCIPLES
Wild-fermented bittersweets come together with Okanagan apples sourced from 1960’s heritage orchards to form First Principles, the flagship cider of Dominion Cider Co. Based out of Summerland, B.C., Dominion has made its mark on the Okanagan craft cider scene with a series of beautifully crafted small batch ciders that reflect the natural essence of high quality heritage fruit. I chose First Principles over other favourites like the Dry-Hopped to better highlight the pure naked beauty of what Dominion has to offer. Bursting forth with juicy acidity and a lovely bouquet of apple blossoms and stone fruit, this cider is full and satisfying. Each sip confirms the experience of rich tannins seamlessly integrated into a dry cascading waterfall of flavours. A lengthy finish is enhanced by light carbonation. 6.8% ABV
11. BX PRESS CRANBERRY CINNAMON
Saturated in ripe, tart cranberry fermented dry, this cider made its mark on my cider-loving heart straight away. No fussing around with this one, the folks at BX Press hit the nail on the head. The Cranberry Cinnamon is a true portrait of winter cider, warm and full with a strong backbone. Fraser Valley cranberries combined with third generation apples come together harmoniously with the added warmth of whole cinnamon sticks for lengthy, saturated finish. Perfect pairing: roast turkey dinner with all the fixings! BX Press always has something amazing on the go, and the experience of their summer taproom is like none other. Always highly recommended. 7.2% ABV
What’s your favourite cider? Comment below and let me know what you’d like to see featured on the blog.
xo. Babbling Bottles
ALL ORIGINAL PHOTOGRAPHY © AMBER RAE BOUCHARD