Now in Niagara more than ever I have been noticing more than just my friends trying to drink local and I am so excited there is this push from the consumer because drinking local is so important. You can imagine my excitement to see one of my highschool friends crafting a local cider called ‘Overlander’ at their family run winery ‘Palatine Hills’ in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The group of 4 young adventurous guys looking for something beyond their wines; exploring an uncharted territory…which also is where the namesake for the cider stems from. Not only just a refreshing drink on a hot summer day but perfect for the cool autumn ones as well. Full of festive apple harvest flavours all the while finishing bone dry and refreshing. It takes me back to my childhood where I have memories of puncturing open a big can of Allen’s Apple Juice, although I never understood why it was the only type juice you could buy in a giant can. While this cider in particular is full of fresh juicy apple flavours, I can’t help but channel my inner 10-year-old and those memories I have tied to large cans of apple juice. However my palate has since developed into something a bit more refined and high maintenance and now prefers the dry crisp finish of the Overlander Cider.
Ciders can range in styles just like wine from the Old World bottle conditioned with refinement to crazy funky unfiltered pet-nat styles, all the way to this beautiful modern bubble in a can. This is made from 100% Ontario Apples and honestly you can taste it. There is something that just seems so Ontario about this cider, if you were walking through an Ontario Heritage Orchard and plucked off a perfect apple the first crunchy sour bite and explosion of juice would be in the same flavour house as this Overlander Cider. With a nice long fermentation this cider spends 2 months in fermentation to become totally dry and then rests on its clean lees to pick up some bready yeast characteristics that you can smell on the aroma. Small hints of baked goods that compliment the pure apple aroma; a match made in heaven just like your Grandma’s Apple Pie.
Cider has been around for what seems like forever. Even a hero of American Folklore the tale of Johnny Appleseed is not just about a man who wore a pot on his head and walked around the country barefoot, leaving a trail of apples everywhere he went. He was a real man named John Chapman who travelled the frontier (maybe barefoot) planting apple orchards on barren land to claim them as property and sell the large plots to settlers for pretty pennies and make a living. Up until the days of prohibition most apples that were grown were not made for eating but grown to be fermented and consumed as cider and in some cases consumed even more regularly than water since it was clean. Water at this time could contain harmful bacteria but cider was safe.(And delicious.) Now I am not suggesting that you swap out your water intake for this Overlander Cider but just get yourself some cans and crack it open on a lovely fall day hiking through Decew Falls or enjoying these falls days however you choose. I love this cider, it’s full of the flavours of Autumn and will leave you feeling even better for drinking local Niagara products.
Cider: Overlander Cider
Winery: Palatine Hills Winery
Address: 911 Lakeshore Rd. Niagara-on-the-Lake
Price: 3.25 per/473ml