Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sea Cider, Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island

Celebrating Artisanal, Organic Ciders from Heritage Apples

I fell in love with traditional cider many years ago on British pub crawls. So I was eager to visit Sea Cider, Vancouver Island’s newest ciderhouse.

And it was wonderful – but also a complete surprise. Sea Cider is currently offering nine different kinds of organic cider made from heritage apples, and some of them were completely unexpected.

Sea Cider offers two tasting options. The short flight costs $7 and gives you an opportunity to try any three of their ciders. Or two people can share a long flight with samples of all nine ciders. I’m going to describe the four ciders I tasted. I think they’ll give you a sense of how diverse cider flavours can be.

Wild English is a typical English cider – dry, slightly effervescent and smelling sweetly of apples. It’s made from wild yeast that was present in the air when it was being made and is unfiltered so it’s slightly hazy. It’s made from Herefordshire bittersweet apples and closely resembles the ciders I have had in England.

Ginger Perry is a new, short-term addition to Sea Cider’s repertoire. Perry is a traditional pear drink, but the owners of Sea Cider have given it their own unique twist by infusing it with camomile ginger tea to create a very mellow sipping cider with a pleasant ginger aroma. It’s low in alcohol – the perfect drink on a hot summer day.

Rumrunner is darker, sweeter and more alcoholic (12%). The cider is fermented in Kentucky bourbon producers’ barrels that have been soaked in Newfoundland screech. The resulting cider is rum-scented, rich and warm – perfect for a cold winter’s night (although that isn’t stopping me from drinking it in July!). It’s made from winter banana and winesap apples – what wonderful names!

Pomona resembles an ice wine. The crab apple juice has been frozen and the ice removed to create a sweeter, concentrated juice, which is then fermented and fortified with eau de vie (made locally by Victoria Spirits). It’s 16% alcohol and very sweet with lots of fruit flavours – perfect for dessert.

Sea Cider is pleasant and unpretentious, and the staff are friendly and informative. The tasting room and deck look down over the orchard to open water and islands. They serve a few simple but good quality cheese and meat platters to accompany the tastings, and they sell a variety of cider-infused and/or local products.

They will be hosting 25 weddings this summer, which seems very appropriate as the owners decided to open a ciderhouse after successfully making cider for their own wedding. They bought the property six years ago and have been open to the public for the past three.

Sea Cider is located on the Saanich Peninsula, just a short drive from Butchart Gardens. In fact, we found it combined really well with a trip to the Gardens. After walking and feasting our eyes on the flowers, we were more than happy to sit quietly and to exercise our taste buds instead.

Sea Cider is open year round, Wednesday through Sunday and holiday Mondays, from 11 am to 6 pm. I’ll get another taste at the Main Event, the launch of Victoria’s festival of food and wine on Thursday, July 15.

My thanks to Sea Cider for responding to my request for information and for providing me with a complimentary tasting.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Mmmmm, sounds delicious!