Big-city chef goes country for craft cider

The Cidery: West Avenue Cider Company

It may be premature for a beer blog in its infancy to swap one muse for another. But there’s a new cider on the otherwise beer-soaked bar and restaurant circuit in Toronto, and it’s turning heads in the craft beer community.

Husband-and-wife team Chris Haworth and Amy Robson are seasoned cider drinkers turned cider makers. They’ve spent the bulk of their adult years “researching” hard cider in the U.K., before calling Toronto their home and founding West Avenue Cider Company earlier this year.

Cask Days 2013 - Chris and amy-1

Husband and wife: Pictured at Cask Days, Chris Haworth and Amy Robson launched West Avenue Cider Company earlier this year.

Since then, the company’s flagship cider, Heritage Dry, has become a mainstay at better beer bars and restaurants in the city, including Bellwoods Brewery, Bar Isabel and Momofuku, to name a few.

To much acclaim, Haworth’s experimental one-offs have also made guest appearances at major craft beer events. Cherry Beach, for example, was a favourite at barVolo’s Zwanze Day and at Cask Days. Aged in Pinot Noir barrels, the lively ruby-red cider was crafted using Niagara Montmorency cherries. A bourbon barrel-aged cider is also in the works, and is slated for release this Christmas.

Cherry Beach Cider - Cask days 2013-1

Tart and tasty: Cherry Beach was crafted using Niagara Montmorency cherries and aged in Pinot Noir barrels.

The couple behind West Avenue is treating their inaugural year as a soft launch. Presently, West Avenue produces 10,000 litres, but the plan next year is to expand to 40,000 litres.

The Cider: Heritage Dry, draught and in 500-ml bottles, 6.2% ABV

Crisp and fruity, Heritage Dry pours a clear, pale gold with a slight white head. The lightly carbonated cider is pleasantly acidic, refreshing and sessionable.

West Avenue Cider-1

Crisp and clear: West Avenue cider is available in better beer bars and restaurants  by the  bottle or on tap.

The Brand: Big-city chef goes country

Haworth’s roots as a chef have coupled with his country sensibilities to shape West Avenue’s brand.

Having worked in U.K. kitchens for big shots like Marco Pierre White, Manchester-born Haworth is no stranger to fast-paced urban life. Even so, it’s not unusual to see him foraging for fruit on the side of rural roads, or in “secret” countryside orchards.

While West Avenue sources apples exclusively from Ontario, mostly from Norfolk County, Haworth can be found plucking heritage varieties from trees as far as Windsor. As well as harvesting the apples, Haworth labels, bottles and delivers the kegs himself.

As a chef, Haworth believes in ingredient-driven food. He follows the same ethos with West Avenue. His cider is a homage to country flavours, but for city slickers with discerning tastes to enjoy at hip bars and fine restaurants.

The West Avenue brand is reflected in the cider’s logo – an apple tree bearing the bright lights of a cityscape in its branches.

West Avenue Cider-2

Country meets city: The West Avenue brand appeals to big-city tastes with flavours from the countryside.

For Haworth and his wife, the dream is to one day swap city living for a farm. They hope to grow an orchard of their own, and to eventually call an estate cidery in the country their home.

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2 comments

  1. Learning so much from your posts. Thank you.

    1. Great to hear! If you’re looking to find West Avenue locally, head to Dundas. It’s available on tap at Quatrefoil Restaurant, and in the bottle at Detour Cafe.

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