Fueled by a thirst for craft drinks and an abundance of apple trees, eastern Canada is experiencing an artisanal craft cider explosion. Cider, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple juice, came from France in the 17th century, but it was deemed illegal in Canada between 1921 and 1970. Today the industry has made a revival with over 70 cideries in Quebec province alone.
Montreal, the largest city in the province of Quebec, is the hub of the tourist industry. Fifty miles outside of the metropolis lies the Eastern Townships of Dunham, Cowansville, East Stanbridge and Saint-Armand. This area is currently known as the Brome-Missisquoi Wine Trail but if things continue at the pace they are going, it will soon be a Cider Trail too.
The countryside testifies to its agricultural roots: Maple trees, vineyards, and apple orchards. The trail features rural landscapes of rolling green hills and valleys, lakes and rivers, quaint villages wit historic homes, white church spires, few stoplights and many French-speaking people. When surrounded by such bucolic scenery, the troubles of the day are forgotten. All that surrounds you is fresh; fresh air, fresh flavors of the region and the scent of fresh apple blossoms and apples.
Here is where you’ll find the 75 acre apple estate, Union Libre Cider. Co-owner Anouscha Bouchard is proud of their devotion to producing fine ciders. “We were the first cidery to produce the heated fire cider method, she proudly proclaimed. “Fire cider is produced by the fermentation of heat-concentrated apple must. Apples are first pressed, one variety at a time. Musts, the result of the press, are blended and transformed by heat. The concentrate obtained from this pressing is then fermented placed in stainless vats for several weeks at a low temperature.”
Some of the Fire Cider will be fortified with apple eau-de-vie and aged in oak barrels. Fire cider is known for the intensity of their aromas. They are tart and dry in flavor, perfect for sipping or making into cocktails.
Once you’ve tried the fire, it’s time for the ice. Ice cider is modeled after ice wine, it’s made from apples harvested in January when they are frozen and have a higher concentration of sugars. The apples are pressed and cold fermented in stainless steel vats for months. The cider is sweet yet rich and complex in flavor, with aromas of honey and pear. Serve this cider very cold. Try pairing it with cheese, foie gras and chocolate.
A fun way to enjoy cider is in a cocktail.
2 oz of Fire Cider
½ oz of Infernal Ginger Le Lab syrup
1. In a glass, drop 2oz of the Fire Cider and ½ oz of the Infernal Ginger Le Lab syrup.
2. Add 2 lime cubes and crush them.
3. Put some ice cubes in, stir and serve.
Enjoy the Brome-Missisquoi terroir! Cheers, à votre santé!