Lately, mid-week has become a time for Wine Wednesdays (see here, here, here and here), where I write about my experiences at local wineries. Today, I’m shifting gears ever-so-slightly and focusing on cider. It doesn’t have quite the same alliterative ring to it, but I’m going to own it nonetheless.
I’ve found that people’s stance on cider varies wildly. Some love the overly sweet, mass-produced ciders we find at the local liquor store. Others hate cider precisely because of those mass-produced, overly sweetened ciders. In other words, our views on cider can be complicated. Also, for those of you who do love the sweet ciders, I’m sorry but this post is not going to be for you. I mean, you still might like the post, but you won’t like the ciders I discuss. For everyone else who loves ultra dry ciders, this post and the ciders described within it are for you. Here we go!
Region: north okanagan
Cidery: BX Press Cidery & Orchard (Vernon, BC)
Varieties: Prospector & Bandit
Price Point: $8-9 bucks per 500 mL bottle
Brief and non-technical Tasting Notes: Let me start off by saying that I love every single cider I’ve ever tasted at BX, with the exception of one. So in choosing two to highlight, I am by no means saying that the others aren’t worth it. They have many seasonal offerings which are either done til next year (their winter seasonal offerings) or which are not yet ready (summer offerings); today’s two ciders are my two personal favourites among the mix of ciders currently available.
The Prospector: Being a fan of tart white wines and sour ales, this slightly tart and ultra dry cider has been a personal fave since the first time I tried it. It mixes apples and crab-apples and, while I can’t definitively say it’s the crab apples that gives the cider its tartness, I definitely assume that it’s part of the magic. This is super, crazy refreshing on a hot day and I consider it to be a worthy replacement for any beer.
The Bandit: Right at the onset I said that sweet cider lovers would find nothing here, and I was sort of wrong. The Bandit is apple cider blended with real cherry juice. While I wouldn’t characterize the cider as ‘sweet’, it’s certainly the sweetest of the ciders I’ve tried at BX. That said, it’s still refreshing and not at all cloying and it goes brilliantly well with potato chips for reasons I don’t quite understand. If you aren’t really into ciders, trust me when I say this will be your gateway cider.
Cidery Vibes: Cidery vibes are super important yet underrated. This is the feeling that you get when you walk into a space, and is influenced by things such as: aesthetics, decor, set up, staff friendliness and knowledge, sampling protocol (free vs. fees, sampling variety, etc.), snobbiness vs. accessibility, etc.).
The BX doesn’t just have a tasting room, they have a full-on tasting experience. They do a whole presentation along with their tastings. While some people might just want the cider, I appreciate that this makes trying their ciders more of an outing than a five minute sampling. Plus, there are some really cool stories about the region and cidery’s history, including harrowing tales of a gold thief and prison escape. Bonus points: their visual aids are (professionally) drawn on cardboard. It feels homey and quaint and personal. It does not hurt that you get anywhere from 3-6 sizeable cider tastings to accompany the story.
You will sit at large communal tables, which means getting to know a bit about some other people. That’s not everyone’s thing, but there’s not a ton of time for small talk so I’ve never found it to be awkward (and I am not one for small talk with strangers). You may have to wait for the tasting because it comes with a story, but it’s never more than 15 minutes and there’s orchards to be viewed and a little shop with quaint decor that will keep you distracted.
Tastings are by donation, which is a lovely thing these days. Apparently they tried to implement a tasting fee earlier this year, but it felt wrong to them. I like that they are honouring who they are, and I imagine people are actually more generous when they aren’t forced to pay. Or at least I am.
This is a brilliant place to stop and visit when the hankering for cider strikes, or a fantastic place to go if you’re not sure you even like cider yet. No matter what, go check it out. It’s fun, it’s informative and, most importantly, it’s delicious. Cider on, my friends.
*It probably goes without saying, but I have received no compensation for writing this. BX has no idea who I am, nor do I have a followership on this blog that would inspire anyway to pay me for writing nice things about them.