February 11, 2019
When Uncommon Cider set out to make an Alberta-centric cider they knew they wanted to be unique, and keep their focus on western Canadian ingredients. Using crisp B.C. apples was a given, but co-founder Brodie Thomas was looking to add a little something special.
He chose a unique and almost unheard-of berry that’s starting to grow in popularity, thanks to its bold taste.
Unique Canadian Berry Creates an Uncommon Cider
“We use haskap berries from Grande Prairie as well as Salmon Arm B.C.,” says Thomas. “We juice them and leave the skins in the cider to pull the colour from it so you get this really nice pinky cider with pomegranate notes and berries. It’s nicely tart with a touch of sweetness.
Haskaps are poised to become the next superfruit, depending on what you read. It’s also got a reputation or a flavour like nothing you’ve ever tasted; as if a raspberry, a blueberry and some mysterious tropical fruit all got together and threw a tropical fiesta in your mouth.
Haskap berries are good-sized fruit that resembles a longer and more oval blueberry. It has the same mottled violet-cobalt skin you'd find on a blueberry, but it can grow up to 4 centimetres long.
“It’s common for other cideries to make a berry cider but we wanted to do something more local. Plus we chose to use haskaps because they’re an uncommon berry; and we’re an Uncommon cidery,” laughs Thomas.
With their standout Haskap Cider, Uncommon Cider is also making Uncommon Dry Craft Cider and a Dry Hopped Cider.
“My cider is traditional in that it’s dry. It’s got a good sweetness-to-acidity balance that showcases the apples themselves. Drinking my cider would be like drinking a fine wine; with wine you have depth and complexity; you’re not just drinking grape juice. With my cider, you get subtleties and complex tasting notes too. It’s not a one dimensional product.”
In that way it’s like drinking a wine; you’ll get different tasting notes—you’re not just drinking grape juice.”
Making Local Cider is a Labour of Love & Takes Time
Making Uncommon Cider isn’t a quick process. Apples are juiced then fermented for about a month. Then it’s aged for a minimum of three months. While the bulk of Uncommon’s apples do come from B.C, they also do an annual harvest from here in Calgary, taking donations of fruit that homeowners just can’t use and crafting a special local cider.
“We can use many different kind of apples; you blend the juices with others to get a good flavour with a good acidity-and-sweetness balance. Crabapples actually make really good cider and we have lots of those in Calgary; often it’s the apples you don’t want to eat off the tree that make really good cider.”
Traditional Cider Made Here in Calgary
Thomas came to love cider after working in the United Kingdom. There, drinking cider is as common as drinking beer is here. Once he returned home, he longed for that authentic British cider taste; with a good balance and not overly sweet. It was surprisingly hard to find in Canada. So he started making his own, and soon Alberta’s first craft cidery was born. Uncommon has since crafted its third production run.
Thomas says that even those who think they may not like cider, should give Uncommon a try.
“Our Traditional Dry Craft Cider is very dry; there’s very little sweetness. It balances the acidity nicely. You’ll get a hint of white grapes and orchard fruits with a nice golden colour. When it comes to our Dry Hopped Cider, we dry hop it to give it some aromatics but you get none of that hoppy bitterness. You’ll notice peachy flavours, papaya and tropical fruits, but with a balanced cider underneath.”
There’s also that uniquely Albertan Haskap cider, sold in clear bottles so the gorgeous rosy hue shows through. Calgarians may find it a challenge to hunt down haskap berries on their own, but sampling the berries as part of Uncommon’s tangy-sweet cider is easy. You can pick up Uncommon Cider at Calgary area Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.
“We want to show that there’s a lot of different fruit out there. I love the idea of finding weird things and making them delicious.”
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