Tod Creek Coastal Blue

Review of Tod Creek’s Coastal Blue, a blueberry cider.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had their Tod Cider Vancouver Island and Mala-Hop.

Cider:  Coastal Blue (blueberry)
Cidery:  Tod Creek Cider
Cidery Location:  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Style:  Canadian craft cider from dessert apples, with local wild blueberries

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Availability:  Western British Columbia, Canada, such as in Victoria and Vancouver (see here)

Cider Description:  We add local blueberry juice to our craft cider for an amazing west coast taste!

Cidery Description:  Victoria’s newest Craft Cider maker. We are a farm based micro-cidery producing quality craft cider from apples sourced locally and throughout BC…We have grown so much in the last year because of the support of the private liquor stores, and restaurants, that have been carrying our cider. Many thanks to them, and please visit them to buy your cider. Or swing by our onsite store and tour our cidery at the same time!  (in Victoria)

Price:  I don’t remember (somewhere between $10 & $15 CAN?), but it was a good deal with the exchange rate being $1 CAD to $0.80 USD
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C. Canada
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  A friend brought some to me a couple years ago.  This time when I was in Victoria (cruise port stop), I spotted the blueberry variety, and picked some up as I had heard online that it was popular.

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First Impression:  Deep red/pink/purple hue.  Nearly still.  Smells tart with a hint of berry.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  High tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Low bitterness.  Hints of tannins and sourness.  No funk.  Notes of blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, lemon, and green apple.  Moderate length tart finish.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  I didn’t really care for this one as it was so tart (even more than Tod Creek’s flagship Tod Cider, a semi-dry citrusy cider).  I was also surprised that it was fairly dry, but as Tod Creek’s other ciders are around the same level of sweetness, I shouldn’t have been.  The blueberry flavor was nice though.

Most Similar to:  Ole Swede Blueberry (which was also semi-dry and very tart, but had some different flavor notes).  Most blueberry ciders I’ve tried were much sweeter, like Locust Smoked Blueberry, Schilling Blueberry Cobbler, and Woodchuck Summer Time.  I’ve also tried one which was completely dry and a bit sour, WildCraft Blue River Blueberry.

Closing Notes:  I’d recommend this to folks who like drier tart ciders which still retain a good bit of fruitiness.

Have you tried Tod Creek Coastal Blue?  What did you think?

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Tod Creek Mala-Hop

Review of Tod Creek’s Mala-Hop.  This is the second cider I’ve had from Tod Creek. The name is a reference to Malahat, Vancouver Island’s dividing mountain between Victoria and its southern tip, and that is a hopped cider.

Ron from DrinkingCider.com brought me two Tod Creek ciders from his Vancouver detour to his Cider Summit Seattle 2015 / WA Cider Week trip!  See here for my review of Tod Creek’s Tod Cider Vancouver Island.

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Cider:  Mala-Hop
Cidery:  Tod Creek
Cidery Location:  Victoria B.C. Canada
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  500ml glass bottle

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Availability:  Vancouver Island, Vancouver, and a couple store in the interior of British Columbia.  They are entering their second season, and have plans to expand into the Kelowna area, possibly Alberta, and hopefully eventually the U.S.

Cider Description:  All juice hard apple cider with triple-hop flavour….

Premium cider with a West Coast bite.  Cruising the Malahat is a rite of passage for most Islanders, the mountain at your side as Finlayson Arm and Saltspring Island creep into view.  Whether you’re heading to Victoria or leaving the capital city, the Malahat is an essential part of Island life.  This hard apple cider is prefect for beer-lovers and cider enthusiasts, featuring a touch of tartness from the Granny Smiths and three different hops delivering that distinct flavour and aroma loved by true hop-heads….

This sparkling cider is all juice — no water added to dilute the great taste.  Mala-Hop is a triple-hopped treat and tastes great on its own or paired with a spicy pepperoni pizza, nachos loaded with jalapenos, or a hearty beef stew….

Ingredients:  apple juice, maple syrup, sulfites, hops….

Hopped cider has been around for years, but only recently in the Pacific NorthWest has it really become discovered and loved by so many. This cider is for the beer drinker, or for anyone who wants to have the tremendous nose and flavour of hops in their cider. Kinda like peanut butter and chocolate….

We use a blend of Granny, Golden, Jona, Sparton apples, and this year we’re also using Mac. In the Mala-Hop is also some cider variety such as Yarlington and Tremlett, with some crab as well. 
The three hops we’re using are Chinook, Sterling and Centennial, all sourced from the organic growners HOOH  (harvest our organic hops) in Liloette, BC.

Cidery Description:  Tod Creek Craft Cider makes small batch, handcrafted cider with BC apples. We source our apples from local trees on Vancouver Island as well as from farmers in the BC interior.  Long, slow fermentation brings about great flavours in the traditional way. We typically ferment each batch for about four months. If you want the super-sweet, watered-down canned stuff, we can’t help you. Our ciders are all-juice blends to bring a clean, crisp, enjoyable drink that goes great with dinner, friends, or all by itself.  As a small batch cider, you’ll notice that each year the ciders will vary slightly, much like a good wine does. Our apples will be influenced by the sun, the amount of rainfall, and other factors, so each year will yield a slightly different taste.  Most of our ciders are coarse filtered, and our hopped cider isn’t filtered at all. Filtering can take some of the flavours out of cider, so we try to limit the amount of filtering we do.

They opened in June 2014 and have a micro-cidery setup, their own orchard in Victoria, and lease an orchard in Kelowna.  A tasting room is in the works (hoping for Summer 2016), but they will do a tasting & tour by appointment.  Sea Cider and Merridale are also in the same area.

Price:  n/a (appears to run $7.60 CAD, or $5.77 USD a bottle)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Ron gave it to me.  I’d never heard of Tod Creek cider before as it isn’t available here in the Seattle area.

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First Impression:  Almost no carbonation.  Light straw yellow with a hint of honey hue, slightly hazy.  Mild aromas of hops, floral, citrus, wood, and maple.

Opinion:  Semi-dry.  This cider tasted spot-on to how it smelled, with the same mild hops, floral, citrus, wood, and maple notes.  Low bitterness, astringency, acidity, and tartness.  Medium bodied.  Very smooth.  On the unfiltered side.  Balanced complex flavor.  Average length finish.  The hops are present throughout the sip, but remain very mild.  I’m surprised it wasn’t more tart as I pick up a lot of granny smith aple notes, but I imagine the other apple varieties, hops, and maple syrup balanced out the flavor.  I’m impressed they really kept the bitterness down.  My main comment is that it could use more carbonation, but I say that about almost all ciders!

Most Similar to:  Portland Cider Hop’Rageous, which is the only other hopped cider I’ve tried that I actually liked (tasting notes here).  Hop’Rageous also has very little hop flavor, more floral & citrus notes with a slight hops aftertaste.  Most hopped ciders seem to go quite overboard on the amount of hops, only appealing to beer lovers, which I definitely am not.

Closing Notes:   Not bad!  I was pleasantly surprised.  My husband also enjoyed it.  I’m not sure Mala-Hop is something I would buy if it was available here as its not really my type of cider, but like Portland Cider Hop’Rageous, I’d recommend it to anyone who is curious about hopped ciders and looking for something on the mild end of the spectrum.  I didn’t have any problem finishing the bottle, which was definitely unexpected.  Hopefully I’ll be able to try more ciders from Tod Creek in the future.

Have you tried any cider from Tod Creek?  What did you think?

Tod Creek Tod Cider Vancouver Island

Review of Tod Cider Vancouver Island from Tod Creek Craft Cider.  The only other Canadian cider I’ve had that I can think of is Sea Cider.  Thanks to Ron from DrinkingCider.com for bringing me two ciders from Tod Creek from his Vancouver detour to his Cider Summit / WA Cider Week trip!

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Cider:  Tod Cider Vancouver Island
Cidery:  Tod Creek
Cidery Location:  Victoria B.C. Canada
ABV:  6.0%
How Supplied:  16oz can

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Availability:  Vancouver Island, Vancouver, and a couple store in the interior of British Columbia.  They are entering their second season, and have plans to expand into the Kelowna area, possibly Alberta, and hopefully eventually the U.S.

Cider Description:  Our craft cider in a can! This is all juice, and not watered down like all the big boys do. Refreshing, clean Canadian cider with a hint of tartness.

Cidery Description:  Tod Creek Craft Cider makes small batch, handcrafted cider with BC apples. We source our apples from local trees on Vancouver Island as well as from farmers in the BC interior.  Long, slow fermentation brings about great flavours in the traditional way. We typically ferment each batch for about four months. If you want the super-sweet, watered-down canned stuff, we can’t help you. Our ciders are all-juice blends to bring a clean, crisp, enjoyable drink that goes great with dinner, friends, or all by itself.  As a small batch cider, you’ll notice that each year the ciders will vary slightly, much like a good wine does. Our apples will be influenced by the sun, the amount of rainfall, and other factors, so each year will yield a slightly different taste.  Most of our ciders are coarse filtered, and our hopped cider isn’t filtered at all. Filtering can take some of the flavours out of cider, so we try to limit the amount of filtering we do.

Additional information I obtained from Tod Creek:  This canned cider variety is made from mostly dessert apples (Golden, Granny, Sparton, Macintosh, and Jona), but their bottled ciders have more apple variety, including crabapples.  They opened in June 2014 and have a micro-cidery setup, their own orchard in Victoria, and lease an orchard in Kelowna.  A tasting room is in the works (hoping for Summer 2016), but they will do a tasting & tour by appointment.  Sea Cider and Merridale are also in the same area.

I commented I noticed a higher carbonation level and enjoyed it, but cidermaker/owner Chris Schmidt says their canned cider is carbonated to the minimal levels for Aluminum cans, a target of 2.4 atm, and their bottled cider is also lower carbonation.  So, I’m curious why I perceived different.  Maybe read my review and see what you readers think?  I’m guessing if anything its the citrus notes which made it seem more fizzy.

Each batch of Tod Cider is 1000-1200L, so its very small production. Consequently, there will be slight differences between each batch. Also, it is 99% juice without any water, sugar, preservatives added. And we only course filter the cider. I’m really trying to put a true craft cider into a can, and provide a price point similar to the big commercial producers.  [he says 99% as they actually consider the water used to wash the apples the other potentially 1% lol]

Price:  free for me, but their website says $11.30 CAD for a four pack, which is $8.55 USD
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Ron gave it to me.  I’d never heard of Tod Creek cider before as it isn’t available here in the Seattle area.

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First Impression:  Light lemonade yellow, slightly hazy.  HIgh carbonation upon pouring.  Smells of citrus, yeast, and apples of course.

Opinion:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Moderate acidity and tartness.  Mild bitterness and tannins.  Flavor is quite citrus-forward.  Some yeast, pear, and floral notes.  Slight funk and earthiness.  Light bodied.  Moderate carbonation.  Quick finish.  A refreshing and easy to drink cider.  More complexity than I expected.  The only negative I have is that it seemed slightly on the watery side, but they only used fresh pressed juice; sometimes it just ends up that way.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve had.  Its still pretty dissimilar from Spanish Sidra, which probably typically has the most citrus notes of any type of cider.  Seattle Cider kinda came to mind, but not really.

Closing Notes:   This is probably my favorite canned craft cider so far, and possibly one of my favorite flagship ciders.  I think I like the citrus notes and higher carbonation the best.  I usually don’t like significant tartness, but it worked well in this case.  It doesn’t however seen to be as well-received online.  I really want to try their Breakwater Vanilla (Cider with Maple Syrup & Vanilla), as that sounds awesome!  I also have Tod Creek’s hopped cider, but I’m not a hops fan, so I may pass the cider review baton to my husband, who is.  Here and here are two writeups which mention Tod Creek, from Cidercraft and Straight.

UPDATE (Feb 22, 2016) – A friend gave me a can of this cider, as she remembered me saying I liked it, and she didn’t.  Its quite unusual she also stumbled upon some as its still not available in the U.S. (although she works in the industry).  This batch was quite different, and unfortunately I didn’t like it nearly as much.  Although the citrus notes were there, it was drier (between dry & semi-dry), a bit more bitter, and a bit more tart.  A good reminder that it is common in craft cider to sometimes have large differences batch to batch, year to year, despite trying to keep all the variables the same.  Since this review I have a new favorite canned craft cider, Cascadia Ciderworkers United Dry, and have also found more multipack craft ciders I enjoy (like Rev Nat’s Revival and Celt).

Have you tried any cider from Tod Creek?  What did you think?