The West Cider

Finding the best cider in BC and beyond


Basque Cider and thoughts on one of them (Sarasola Sagardoa)


I had heard of Basque Ciders (or Sidra) but had not tried one until Orgle came home with one from a recent trip south of the border.

As I am barely an expert (I define myself actually as a cider appreciator) on North American, French and English ciders, I had to do my homework on what defines a Basque Cider. I read articles and the significant article on Wikipedia.

I started explaining the process, the history and the results. And open re-reading this post, realized I still had no idea what I was talking about.

So I turn to a good post from a few years back.

The Cider Press: Spanish Sidra

Rustic, musty and tart, Spanish cider (or sidra) is one of the great treasures of the cider world. Sidra production in the España Verde region of Spain began in the late eleventh century when the region’s climate was unfavorable for grape cultivation. Farmers planted apple orchards instead of grapes and began producing their own cider. Over time, two main production regions—Asturias and the Basque region—began to develop strong cider traditions and defined what we now consider Spanish cider.

What makes Spanish cider different from the stuff made in America, England and France? Sidras tend to have a dominant wild yeast character and a dry, tannic finish. These ciders are fermented naturally, without any added sugars or sweeteners, and are usually still, not sparkling. Both Asturian and Basque ciders exhibit acidic, complex, and musty flavors perfect for fans of traditional Belgian Lambics.

When served outside of a Spanish sidreria or sagardotegi (cider house), Spanish cider is served from a standard 750ml bottle. Instead of opening the bottle and letting it “breathe,” Spain has a custom known as “throwing the cider.” A server pours the cider from a height of approximately one meter to aerate and enhance the aroma and flavor of the cider.

(I encourage you to read the rest of the post as well.)

We ended up with the 750mL bottle of Sarasola Sagardoa.

The pourinto glass

Orgle, the very practical man that he is, read the label and told me he had to pour it a metre into the glass.

Sure enough, that took the still cider and gave it a bit of natural carbonation.

I can’t say I was impressed with my first sip. There was something, uh, funky about it.

I couldn’t put my finger on what the weirdness was. But I guess I got used to it.

It had a likeable sourness and still held some of the apples in both flavour and smell.

It was… different.

Guess I will have to find another and give it a go.


Portland has a cider bar, Seattle has a cider bar… Vancouver?

This past week, Capitol Cider opened up in Seattle. The 150 seat cider pub and restaurant specializing in gluten-free food, has 14 ciders on tap and 50 in bottles. They intend to have 100 ciders eventually.

More info:

Down in Portland, Bushwacker Cider will be celebrating its third birthday in September. They carry 6 ciders on tap and 150+ in bottles (!!!). They also produce several ciders that can be found in the Portland area.

More info:


So we’re about five years behind Portland when it comes to all the other trends – microbreweries, doughnuts, fancy ice creams (mark my word, Earnest Ice Cream will have competition soon), etc.

On the five year anniversary of Bushwacker Cider, in 2015, Vancouver will not be ready for its own cider bar. At this point, it’s hard to find even one decent cider in most bars.

I give it five years. It will happen.  We like trends and cider fits the role for the massive contingent of newly minted gluten-free people.

But we need to build the BC industry. People need to know that cider isn’t just a sickly-sweet option for 18 year olds and those who don’t have a taste for wine and beer.  I’m at the point where I think I’ve tried every BC cider. That wouldn’t be the case in Washington State or Oregon.

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing about cider, maybe I should be making it?


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Review: Traditional Thistly Cross Cider

Traditional Thistly Cross Cider Traditional Thistly Cross Cider Traditional Thistly Cross Cider Traditional Thistly Cross Cider


Orgle was in the states when I was doing my intense five month job. This is a cider he brought back for me.

Kind: Traditional Thistly Cross Cider

Size: 500mL glass bottle

Strength: 6.2% ABV

From: Scotland

Company Description: I’m able to find a description for the Traditional cider, but it is listed as 4.2% ABV. So maybe their export cider is different?

Orgle’s thoughts:

“It’s a little sweet. But pleasant. Not very tangy or tart.”

My thoughts:

“It poured with carbonation. But where did the fizz go?”

“It’s appley.”

This is a likeable however unremarkable cider. It wasn’t too sweet, too fizzy/flat, too dry (is there such a thing?), but it was just not memorable.


Often my afterthoughts are weeks or months later, depending on how behind I am on this blog, but this one was just a few days ago. Needless to say, things haven’t changed. I’m neither disappointed nor wowed by this cider. It is completely adequate.

Where to buy:

Ask Orgle. Or look at their list. Doubtful to find in Western Canada.

Traditional Thistly Cross Cider


Thoughts: Rustic Roots Pippins sparkling wine (and apple wine vs. cider)

To mark the end of my employment, I cracked open a sparkling apple wine. I managed to neglect writing down anything about it, or even a picture of the bottle.

So rather than pretending I remember the subtle notes on the tongue and the mouth feel, let me tell you, it was crisp, well-carbonated and yummy.  That’s right: Yummy.

But wait, it’s not a cider?

No, it’s not. But here’s the thing it got me thinking about. What’s the difference between apple cider and apple wine?

Is it the ABV? Is it the sugar content? Is it just how the seller wants it marketed?

Reading on cider forums, ABV over or under 10% seems to be the prevailing thought, but let me know in the comments.

And while you’re at it, when you’re bringing cider across the border, do you treat it as wine or as beer?

Anyways, you can find out more about Rustic Roots Pippins Sparkling Wine. I picked up my bottle at Legacy Liquor Store.

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Review: Lonetree Cider on tap at Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar

Lonetree Cider Lonetree Cider Lonetree Cider

I don’t actually want to give Lonetree a full review based on this particular tasting.

Frankly, I don’t think what I got was completely indicative of the cider – or maybe it does. This is just my experience…

Arrived at Rogue for a friend’s birthday party and the birthday girl had several drinks in front of her already. She passed me this cider saying, “you like ciders.”


Turns out she was giving it to me because she didn’t like it. I tried to not let it cloud my judgement but I can’t help but think it might have.

Problem 1: The cider was flat. I don’t know how long it was at the table before I got it, but it was chilled enough to think it couldn’t have been too long. Having worked in a bar, I’m more likely to blame this on the establishment rather than the beverage.

Problem 2: The taste fell flat. It bored me. It had no oompf. (How technical of me.) The depth was just lacking. The flavour didn’t last, and any tartness was shallow.  This problem I put on the cider itself.

So, overall? I will try this in a can another time. But unfortunately, I’m in no rush to do so.

I think I gave a better review to the non-alcoholic version.



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