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.
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.
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.
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.
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.