Brickworks Ciderhouse is a local brewery which started in 2013 and was founded by two childhood friends from Aurora, Chris Noll and Adam Gerrits. Last week Brickworks introduced its second cider "Queen Street 501". The cider was named after the Toronto Transit Commission's 501 streetcar route which (mainly) runs along Queen Street and is the longest streetcar route operating in North America.
According to Noll and Gerrits, the diversity of the people they saw along the 501 streetcar route is what inspired them to craft Queen Street 501. The cider is blended with 8 types of Ontario Heritage apples which is supposed to represent the 8 major neighborhoods the 501 streetcar travels through (Parkdale, Roncesvalles, the Fashion District, the core of downtown Toronto, Riverdale, Leslieville, East Toronto and The Beaches).
Last week Brickworks threw an event to celebrate the release of their brand new cider and just in time for Cider Week in Ontario. The event consisted of complimentary cans of Queen Street 501 at a pub, a tour around the city aboard a private streetcar, a live band and a private party at a bar.
The night started off at a pub called Betty's which is known for its wide selection of draft beers. Before even arriving at Betty's it was clear that something big was going on as hoards of people lined the sidewalk outside the pub. Betty's was filled to the brim with people who were taking part in the event and were inside to taste Brickworks' latest creation. Everywhere you turned there were people with cans of Queen Street 501; drinking from them, posing with them, having conversations with them in hand. I went to the table where the cider was so I could try it out myself.
The can is bright red with a black stripe along the top which has Brickworks Ciderhouse's slogan (Country born. City crafted) on the front with the company's logo and a picture of a classic Queen Street streetcar below it. Queen Street 501 is delicious and a perfect drink to enjoy during patio season. It's lighter than any cider that I've had before and has a strong apple taste. The cider has the fizzy-ness of a soda but is still very easy to drink.
The next part of our night was the ride aboard the streetcar (which didn't arrive when it was expected to in typical TTC fashion). The first streetcar that pulled up was the vintage street car with the yellow and maroon design, similar to the one that is shown on the can of the cider. People surrounded the streetcar trying to get pictures. Behind it there was a modern streetcar, reflecting the company's philosophy of blending the past with the present. I managed to squeeze myself onto the vintage streetcar. Everything from the paint in the interior, to the seats, to the prices listed for fares was a blast from the past. The streetcar was packed with people who were part of the event including a Fancy Frank's Gourmet Hot Dogs hostess who was handing out delicious hot dogs and a three-man-jazz ensemble for entertainment.
We all stood for a while before the streetcar went anywhere but nobody seemed to mind because the hotdogs and the three young men playing jazz were both wonderful. The bus was full of laughter, hand clapping and singing set to the background of a very old school, up-tempo jazz. When we did finally leave King Street we travelled north on Parliament Street to Queen Street, west on Queen to Spadina Avenue, south on Spadina to the Queens Quay, where we headed north once we got to Bathurst and finally back east on to King Street where we arrived at our destination, the Firkin on King.
Our leisurely route to Firkin took the better part of an hour so as delightful as the music and food were on the streetcar everyone was relieved to get off. The whole bottom half of the restaurant was reserved for the launch of Queen Street 501 and just like at Betty's there were people handing out free cans to the guests. Once everyone had settled somewhere in the basement the hostess made an announcement to the group. For the adventurous folk there was an event being held down the street at SPiN Toronto, the social club/bar and for those looking for a quieter evening they could stay at Firkin and lounge while a band played music. This also presented an opportunity for people who missed out on riding the vintage streetcar the first time around a chance to go on it.
The entire night was an enjoyable experience and I would recommend Queen Street 501 to anyone who is looking for a new way to enjoy summer with a cold one, looking to discover local craft brews or anyone who plans to partake in the Ontario Cider Week festivities.
Ontario Cider Week runs from May 30th until June 6th with events happening throughout the city.