I have new-found sympathy for Adam and Eve: surely the pair only intended to make cider with the apple they pinched. Granted, being cast out of Eden must have left a bitter taste, but the fermented product of the forbidden fruit must have made the consequences of original sin a bit easier to swallow. And to their great credit, the folks at Sea Cider in Saanichton have a number of delightful products to comfort the rest of us sinners.
Founded in 2004 by husband-and-wife team Kristen and Bruce Jordan, Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse occupies a bucolic piece of land on the Saanich Peninsula.
Perched on an east-facing slope that overlooks apple orchards and the Gulf Islands beyond, the ciderhouse and its rather Teutonic tasting room is an idyllic place to while away a few hours sipping ciders on a sunny afternoon.
While it's a bit tricky to find, I highly recommend making a trip to the farm to sample their full range of offerings. Not every cider may be to your liking, but there is enough diversity that you are sure to find at least two or three you'll fancy.
Nevertheless, if a trip to the ciderhouse is not in the cards any time soon, here are five Sea Cider products that are readily available at most private liquor stores in Victoria, notably Spinnakers Spirit Merchants and Cascadia Liquor Stores.
9.5 per cent alcohol, 750 ml, $14
Pippins is the most popular and widely sold cider produced by Sea Cider. Pale gold in colour, with a slight effervescence, Pippins has a pronounced apple smell -as you might expect -that combines with a pleasing yeastiness and hint of honeysuckle. On the palate, it has nice acidity and a pleasant note of honeyed sweetness. The result is a relatively simple and refreshing introduction to cider that would pair well with oysters or spicy Asian dishes.
KINGS & SPIES
8.5 per cent alcohol, 750 ml, $14
A bit more interesting and complex than Pippins is Sea Cider's Kings & Spies. Pale straw in colour with a slight green hue, this cider has herbaceous notes of fresh-cut grass and wildflowers, as well as honey and lemony citrus. It's a bit like the cider equivalent of sauvignon blanc -a comparison confirmed by sharp acidity and grassy notes on the palate, balanced by sweet fruitiness. I stocked up on this cider and plan to serve it with a delicate baked halibut or a light salad, or possibly with some mild cheeses on an indulgent summer afternoon.
WILD ENGLISH '08
7.5 per cent alcohol, 500 ml, $10
One could easily mistake the appearance of Wild English for a pale ale, with its amber colour, effervescence and slightly frothy rim. It is all cider on the nose, though, with distinctive notes of sour apple, apricot, orange and baking spices. On the palate it is highly acidic and tart, with a long, dry finish. Unlike the Pippins, Wild English is an acquired taste that could grow on me with time, especially if paired with bigflavoured foods, such as curry, smoked sausage, and strong cheeses like Stilton or aged cheddar.
12 per cent alcohol, 500 ml, $14
Copper-coloured Rumrunner is a curious cider aged in bourbon and rum casks that pass on pronounced oak notes of caramel and vanilla, as well as cinnamon, molasses and sugar cane. While it was smooth and full of complex aromas and flavours, I found Rumrunner a bit too sweet and dominated by caramel. Nevertheless, it could pair well enough with strong cheeses, salty nuts and cured meats.
16.2 per cent alcohol, 375 ml, $21
This sweet dessert-style cider is a real treat. Crafted as an iced cider, it is a bit hot at 16.2 per cent alcohol, but the combination of floral honey and crab apple comes together in a beautiful balance of sweet and sour that allows it to pair well with aged cheeses and sweet desserts, or as an aperitif.
Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse is at 2487 Mount St. Michael Road in Saanichton, just north of Vantreight Farms. seacider.ca