Hard cider going down easy

News Nov 23, 2017 by Bill Jackson Waterloo Chronicle

That a University of Toronto mechanical engineering grad would surround himself with vats and valves in an industrial park isn’t all that unconventional perhaps — the fact he decided to make hard cider in Waterloo is more off the beaten path.

It wasn’t until a job opportunity led Michael Kramar abroad that he knew cider was his calling as a relatively untapped venture here at home.

“I was working briefly, about a year and a half, in England. I'd never heard of cider, but it’s everywhere there,” he said. “I came back to Ontario and it was nowhere here around that time in 2008.”

Somersby wasn’t really a thing yet and Kramar knew of only one Ontario craft cider at the time, but no restaurants served it.

“So that was in the back of my mind for awhile,” he said.

“I thought it was great opportunity to make something tangible and work hard to see what you do, because when you sell it to a bar or restaurant, someone opens that cider and has an experience.”

However Kramar, now the owner-operator of KW Craft Cider on Colby Drive, decided to move to the region long before the apple-licious bevy caught his fancy.

Following post-secondary school, the North York native had been working with various manufacturing operations in the area. He’d only heard of Kitchener-Waterloo before, but soon fell in love with it.

“Even before I knew I was going to do cider, I first knew I wanted to move to here,” he said.

And so here he is after about three years in business, churning out more than 100,000 litres of cider each year — about 250,000 servings.

The craft was self-taught, Kramar explained, alongside skids loaded with 50-pound bags of malic acid, sugar, sulphate, sorbate, empty bottle and kegs.

“I read a lot of books,” he said. “We didn’t know how to make cider at first and decided to make a sparkling, dry cider, and make it as best we could.

“I started with an idea and pulling together a plan and eventually rented this unit and got the licences.”

Kramar also came across various people who were willing to help him, including one man he referred to as "the best amateur wine maker" in Ontario.

“Using winemaking principles, the cider is made in small batches to account for seasonal variations in each crop and achieve a rich, well-balanced blend,” the company's website explains. “At 6.7 per cent alcohol content, it is a dry, clear, refined cider with champagne yeast that can be enjoyed on its own as well as paired with a meal.”

Early batches of the drink contained a lot of mistakes, Kramar admitted, but the days of test runs are long gone.

The sparkling cider is now carried in 30 LCBO stores across Ontario as well as all Sobeys and Loblaws stores that are licensed to sell alcohol. Various restaurants, including fine-dining spots like the Berlin in downtown Kitchener, now offer it on their menu too.

“So we did that, and then we found that a lot of customers were asking for what variations we could do,” said Kramar.

There are now five or six specialty ciders on the menus of local restaurants at any one time, he said.

Canadian Shield Berry Cider uses five different types of native berries.

“That’s a popular one,” Kramer said, stressing that local ingredients including Ontario apples are used in production.

A seasonal cider called Winter Spice is aged in cinnamon cloves. Another variety uses hot green Thai peppers and provides a bite akin to ginger beer.

Orchards press the apples and bring the unfiltered juice to the Waterloo facility where a dozen, 64-hectolitre tanks do the processing.

The juice remains in sealed tanks for filtering and fermenting before it’s blended, carbonated and packaged, which is where Kramar’s wife Sandrina comes in. She handles the creative, branding side of things, including social media.

Kramar is hopeful that antiquated laws pertaining to the business will soon be updated so products can be sold directly to the public. Laws have been modernized for beer and wine, he said.

“If I could apply to the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance), there’d be a route to selling it all,” he said. “But as a cider, you’re sort of stuck in a no man’s land where laws are outdated and you can’t sell to the public directly unless you own your own orchard.”

Even as it is, Kramar said he’s happy being a relatively small producer of quality cider. He remains the only full-time employee on staff.

“I’m having a good time, so long-term I’m excited about being a part of growing the cider community and the whole eating-local trend that to me is more than a trend,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense to be using apples from your neighbours, rather than having it shipped halfway across the world.”

As an alternative to beer and wine, cider offers an assortment of flavours and food-pairing options, while leveraging its gluten-free ingredients and appealing to fans of the “grown local” ideology, Kramar believes.

“Beer’s a bigger industry and always will be,” he said. “But cider, I’ve seen a big difference in the past year or two. Now when I go into a bar, everyone’s carrying it and it’s kind of like they’re losing out if they’re not.

“So I’ve seen it take that step to a known thing,” he said. “From here on out it’s keeping the quality high and keeping people enjoying it.”

For more about KW Craft Cider, including locations where you can taste it, check out kwcraftcider.com.

Hard cider going down easy

Local craft producer now making 100,000 litres a year for stores and restaurants

News Nov 23, 2017 by Bill Jackson Waterloo Chronicle

That a University of Toronto mechanical engineering grad would surround himself with vats and valves in an industrial park isn’t all that unconventional perhaps — the fact he decided to make hard cider in Waterloo is more off the beaten path.

It wasn’t until a job opportunity led Michael Kramar abroad that he knew cider was his calling as a relatively untapped venture here at home.

“I was working briefly, about a year and a half, in England. I'd never heard of cider, but it’s everywhere there,” he said. “I came back to Ontario and it was nowhere here around that time in 2008.”

Somersby wasn’t really a thing yet and Kramar knew of only one Ontario craft cider at the time, but no restaurants served it.

“So that was in the back of my mind for awhile,” he said.

“I thought it was great opportunity to make something tangible and work hard to see what you do, because when you sell it to a bar or restaurant, someone opens that cider and has an experience.”

However Kramar, now the owner-operator of KW Craft Cider on Colby Drive, decided to move to the region long before the apple-licious bevy caught his fancy.

Following post-secondary school, the North York native had been working with various manufacturing operations in the area. He’d only heard of Kitchener-Waterloo before, but soon fell in love with it.

“Even before I knew I was going to do cider, I first knew I wanted to move to here,” he said.

And so here he is after about three years in business, churning out more than 100,000 litres of cider each year — about 250,000 servings.

The craft was self-taught, Kramar explained, alongside skids loaded with 50-pound bags of malic acid, sugar, sulphate, sorbate, empty bottle and kegs.

“I read a lot of books,” he said. “We didn’t know how to make cider at first and decided to make a sparkling, dry cider, and make it as best we could.

“I started with an idea and pulling together a plan and eventually rented this unit and got the licences.”

Kramar also came across various people who were willing to help him, including one man he referred to as "the best amateur wine maker" in Ontario.

“Using winemaking principles, the cider is made in small batches to account for seasonal variations in each crop and achieve a rich, well-balanced blend,” the company's website explains. “At 6.7 per cent alcohol content, it is a dry, clear, refined cider with champagne yeast that can be enjoyed on its own as well as paired with a meal.”

Early batches of the drink contained a lot of mistakes, Kramar admitted, but the days of test runs are long gone.

The sparkling cider is now carried in 30 LCBO stores across Ontario as well as all Sobeys and Loblaws stores that are licensed to sell alcohol. Various restaurants, including fine-dining spots like the Berlin in downtown Kitchener, now offer it on their menu too.

“So we did that, and then we found that a lot of customers were asking for what variations we could do,” said Kramar.

There are now five or six specialty ciders on the menus of local restaurants at any one time, he said.

Canadian Shield Berry Cider uses five different types of native berries.

“That’s a popular one,” Kramer said, stressing that local ingredients including Ontario apples are used in production.

A seasonal cider called Winter Spice is aged in cinnamon cloves. Another variety uses hot green Thai peppers and provides a bite akin to ginger beer.

Orchards press the apples and bring the unfiltered juice to the Waterloo facility where a dozen, 64-hectolitre tanks do the processing.

The juice remains in sealed tanks for filtering and fermenting before it’s blended, carbonated and packaged, which is where Kramar’s wife Sandrina comes in. She handles the creative, branding side of things, including social media.

Kramar is hopeful that antiquated laws pertaining to the business will soon be updated so products can be sold directly to the public. Laws have been modernized for beer and wine, he said.

“If I could apply to the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance), there’d be a route to selling it all,” he said. “But as a cider, you’re sort of stuck in a no man’s land where laws are outdated and you can’t sell to the public directly unless you own your own orchard.”

Even as it is, Kramar said he’s happy being a relatively small producer of quality cider. He remains the only full-time employee on staff.

“I’m having a good time, so long-term I’m excited about being a part of growing the cider community and the whole eating-local trend that to me is more than a trend,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense to be using apples from your neighbours, rather than having it shipped halfway across the world.”

As an alternative to beer and wine, cider offers an assortment of flavours and food-pairing options, while leveraging its gluten-free ingredients and appealing to fans of the “grown local” ideology, Kramar believes.

“Beer’s a bigger industry and always will be,” he said. “But cider, I’ve seen a big difference in the past year or two. Now when I go into a bar, everyone’s carrying it and it’s kind of like they’re losing out if they’re not.

“So I’ve seen it take that step to a known thing,” he said. “From here on out it’s keeping the quality high and keeping people enjoying it.”

For more about KW Craft Cider, including locations where you can taste it, check out kwcraftcider.com.

Hard cider going down easy

Local craft producer now making 100,000 litres a year for stores and restaurants

News Nov 23, 2017 by Bill Jackson Waterloo Chronicle

That a University of Toronto mechanical engineering grad would surround himself with vats and valves in an industrial park isn’t all that unconventional perhaps — the fact he decided to make hard cider in Waterloo is more off the beaten path.

It wasn’t until a job opportunity led Michael Kramar abroad that he knew cider was his calling as a relatively untapped venture here at home.

“I was working briefly, about a year and a half, in England. I'd never heard of cider, but it’s everywhere there,” he said. “I came back to Ontario and it was nowhere here around that time in 2008.”

Somersby wasn’t really a thing yet and Kramar knew of only one Ontario craft cider at the time, but no restaurants served it.

“So that was in the back of my mind for awhile,” he said.

“I thought it was great opportunity to make something tangible and work hard to see what you do, because when you sell it to a bar or restaurant, someone opens that cider and has an experience.”

However Kramar, now the owner-operator of KW Craft Cider on Colby Drive, decided to move to the region long before the apple-licious bevy caught his fancy.

Following post-secondary school, the North York native had been working with various manufacturing operations in the area. He’d only heard of Kitchener-Waterloo before, but soon fell in love with it.

“Even before I knew I was going to do cider, I first knew I wanted to move to here,” he said.

And so here he is after about three years in business, churning out more than 100,000 litres of cider each year — about 250,000 servings.

The craft was self-taught, Kramar explained, alongside skids loaded with 50-pound bags of malic acid, sugar, sulphate, sorbate, empty bottle and kegs.

“I read a lot of books,” he said. “We didn’t know how to make cider at first and decided to make a sparkling, dry cider, and make it as best we could.

“I started with an idea and pulling together a plan and eventually rented this unit and got the licences.”

Kramar also came across various people who were willing to help him, including one man he referred to as "the best amateur wine maker" in Ontario.

“Using winemaking principles, the cider is made in small batches to account for seasonal variations in each crop and achieve a rich, well-balanced blend,” the company's website explains. “At 6.7 per cent alcohol content, it is a dry, clear, refined cider with champagne yeast that can be enjoyed on its own as well as paired with a meal.”

Early batches of the drink contained a lot of mistakes, Kramar admitted, but the days of test runs are long gone.

The sparkling cider is now carried in 30 LCBO stores across Ontario as well as all Sobeys and Loblaws stores that are licensed to sell alcohol. Various restaurants, including fine-dining spots like the Berlin in downtown Kitchener, now offer it on their menu too.

“So we did that, and then we found that a lot of customers were asking for what variations we could do,” said Kramar.

There are now five or six specialty ciders on the menus of local restaurants at any one time, he said.

Canadian Shield Berry Cider uses five different types of native berries.

“That’s a popular one,” Kramer said, stressing that local ingredients including Ontario apples are used in production.

A seasonal cider called Winter Spice is aged in cinnamon cloves. Another variety uses hot green Thai peppers and provides a bite akin to ginger beer.

Orchards press the apples and bring the unfiltered juice to the Waterloo facility where a dozen, 64-hectolitre tanks do the processing.

The juice remains in sealed tanks for filtering and fermenting before it’s blended, carbonated and packaged, which is where Kramar’s wife Sandrina comes in. She handles the creative, branding side of things, including social media.

Kramar is hopeful that antiquated laws pertaining to the business will soon be updated so products can be sold directly to the public. Laws have been modernized for beer and wine, he said.

“If I could apply to the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance), there’d be a route to selling it all,” he said. “But as a cider, you’re sort of stuck in a no man’s land where laws are outdated and you can’t sell to the public directly unless you own your own orchard.”

Even as it is, Kramar said he’s happy being a relatively small producer of quality cider. He remains the only full-time employee on staff.

“I’m having a good time, so long-term I’m excited about being a part of growing the cider community and the whole eating-local trend that to me is more than a trend,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense to be using apples from your neighbours, rather than having it shipped halfway across the world.”

As an alternative to beer and wine, cider offers an assortment of flavours and food-pairing options, while leveraging its gluten-free ingredients and appealing to fans of the “grown local” ideology, Kramar believes.

“Beer’s a bigger industry and always will be,” he said. “But cider, I’ve seen a big difference in the past year or two. Now when I go into a bar, everyone’s carrying it and it’s kind of like they’re losing out if they’re not.

“So I’ve seen it take that step to a known thing,” he said. “From here on out it’s keeping the quality high and keeping people enjoying it.”

For more about KW Craft Cider, including locations where you can taste it, check out kwcraftcider.com.