It was a bit of a haul today. A drive of 500 or 600 km from the eastern end of the fifth Great Lake to the south of the third. We made a point of finding better stops along the way. Chatterpaul's Trinidadian influenced bistro in suburban Whitby was a bit of a happy surprise. As was the traffic, a little quieter than I might have expected passing by the north of Toronto mid-afternoon on a Friday. And the fireworks being set off at the hotel as dusk ends - courtesy of the inordinately well mannered high school grads at their prom. But the real treat was hitting Spirit Tree Estate Cidery in rolling wooded farmland to the northwest of the Big Smoke.
I heard about Spirit Tree from Chris Schryer of Toronto Beer Blog who did a series on ciders in Ontario a few weeks back. What really got my attention, though, was that they were making perry. I bought six of that as well as six bottles of the basic apple cider. Called Pub Cider, it cost $5.95 for 500 ml of 6% cider. It pours a lightly caronated lightly hued crystal clear gold. The aroma crosses the room from the table: sweet apple peel but also a slight muskiness. In the mouth, there is a very satisfying complexity of apple flavours. The roughness of a russet, the sweet of a golden delicious, the fresh cut of an apple branch I use to smoke my BBQ. Maybe a slight nutmeggy thing. A proper foody cider. The finish especially give you that confidence as it lacks cloy altogether. I could imagine it having enough punch to stand up to a blue cheese, turkey and pear sandwich. You might even poach haddock in it.
The perry was that at another wee notch up. Is it because I have only had perry a couple of times years ago? It is because I have planted pear trees thinking I might take making this drink on as a life skill - up only to later learn of the saying "he who plants pears plants for his heirs"? Whatever it is, we got off highway 10 and dove into the rolling countryside though forests and fields along the Boston Mills Road.
Their perry is also offered at 6% and is sold in a 330 ml or so bottle for $3.95. Again, crystal clear but it has rather than a light gold hue something lightly greenish - like unsteeped cold green tea that has only had the tea bag in it for 20 seconds. The aroma is more floral than the cider's apple peel. A subtly vegetative, sweet and slightly creamy smell. In the mouth, it is heavier than the cider and satisfyingly so. A much meater drink. Lightly effervescent sweet like moscato d'asti but with that green vegetative hint that lets you know you are drinking the results of something that grew on a tree. I might mention the sensation of snapping a thin green stem, faint melon, lychee without rose petal thing, certainly icing sugar, a hint of parsley or grass, even rice vinegar as well as a bunch of other flavours. But maybe the flavour is perry. Or maybe just really really good perry.
I will be hoarding the ten remaining bottles. Mine. Screw off. Get your own.