by Linda Garson and Tom Firth

Now Alberta has become firmly established as an ideal location for breweries and distillers, what’s next for our province’s local beverages? Could it be cideries?

Cider can be made in any brewery from bought apple juice, or brewed under contract, but to make craft cider you need to own your own cidery and brew in small batches from apples, with little to no carbonation. And we’re just starting to see a revival…

Alberta’s first craft cidery opened last summer – Calgary’s Elite Brewing & Cidery, who source all their fruit from B.C. and make small batches of around 1,200 litres, and switch them up once they’re gone.

Elite produce three different ciders each month, all dry and extra dry, and averaging 6.2 percent ABV. The only constant is Kitty Hawk Extra Dry, a deliciously refreshing and easy to drink cider with yeasty undertones, that was so popular with the locals, it had to stay on the list.

A world away from standard sweet ciders, currently you’ll find: Area 51 County Harvest, a new invention trial keg that is apple-y, fruity, and with vanilla notes; Rising Sun, subtle and bright with blackberry, raspberry and cranberry; and Bunker Buster, a mouth-wateringly crisp and refreshing raspberry cider. Fill your 32 oz growler for $11 and $16 for 64 oz, or drink (and eat!) in the brewery.

Launched last November, Lekker Cider use only Pacific Northwest apples, pressing them in situ and bringing the fresh juice back to Calgary to be fermented.

Seven varieties of Yakima Valley dessert apples are pressed to make each cider. Dry Hopped Bru starts dry and then the tart sweetness of fresh apple juice comes into play, complementing the citrus from the hops.
CSPC +809840 473 mL $5, +817204 (355 mL) $4

And watch out for new flavours and styles: heritage series unfiltered Pippin’s bru made from only Newton Pippin apples CSPC +814493 $9-$10, and Eiland Guava Bru blended with fresh guava. CSPC +817205 (355 mL) $4

Alberta’s newest cidery, SunnyCider, has a fruit donor program for wasted urban apples, pears, cherries, and berries, and turns them into cider. It’s about community and neighbours, and we’re excited for their new facility opening this month in Calgary on 14 Avenue NE.

But you can buy Batch #1 in Calgary and Edmonton liquor stores; it’s a totally apple-y cider made from Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Gala, Spartan, and Mac Okanagan apples and comes with a swing top, an orchard in a glass. CSPC +815921 (500 mL) $12

Perhaps one of the best known craft cideries in Calgary, Uncommon Cider is making a wide range of products including the very tasty blend of apple and haskap – showcasing what a little fruit can do with cider. CSPC +795421 (500 mL) $12-14. Uncommon is perhaps best loved for their fruit drives which also source fruit from Calgarians in support of the Calgary Food Bank. 

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