There is just something about Vermont that makes you fall in love with it from the moment you arrive.
Although my #1 spot in the U.S is the Southwest (being the fake cowgirl that I am, of course) Vermont comes in a very close 2nd. They’re almost tied, actually, but especially in the Fall.
If you’ve never been to Vermont in the Fall, you are missing out one glorious show. Every October, the Green Mountains are suddenly awash in brilliant shares of reds, oranges and yellows, it’s absolutely stunning. While we have our fair share of beautiful fall foliage in Ontario, there’s just something about Vermont in the Fall that will blow you away.
And fortunately Burlington (my favourite city in Vermont) is pretty close for us, only about 3 ½ hours from Ottawa. It’s the perfect distance for a short weekend road trip.
And trust me, when you’re in Vermont, you may not want to leave at all.
Although it’s not the state capital, Burlington is its biggest city and is also home to the University of Vermont. Although it’s a city, really, it really does look and feel like a small town with its friendly, casual & outdoorsy vibe.
Especially if you’re on Church Street, the heart and soul of the city, which is the town’s main pedestrian street. It’s named that because the street is flanked by two churches at either end. With it’s great collection of restaurants, pubs and shopping, it’s the place to be if you’re visiting this lovely town.
I can’t come to Burlington without going to this store.
One of the best chocolate shops in North America, most definitely. And it even rivals many I’ve been in some areas of Europe (crazy, but true). This place alone is worth a visit to Burlington, at least if you’re a chocoholic.
It was on my last visit here, which happened to coincide with the NHL playoffs, where I happily discovered that Vermonters love the Bruins. As a huge Bruins fan living in Ottawa (yep, I’m brave) I was really happy to be in a pub filled with people wearing black & gold for once (my kinda people!). Since Burlington isn’t too far from Beantown, the Bruins are almost their home team, I guess. But it should be everyone’s team, if you ask me, as they are the best in the league (let the attacks begin…wait, don’t hurt me!)
Okay, enough hockey talk. I digress…
Burlington is a very progressive town, much more so than many other cities across Canada and the U.S, at least from what I’ve seen. On my very first visit there about a decade ago, I noticed some of the restaurants had adopted the ‘farm-to-table’ concept. They even listed the farms where they got the ingredients from… on the menu! This was a fairly new concept at the time (circa 2001). This was quite interesting to me since I studied the food industry while doing my Masters degree (in Geography and Environmental Studies).
Of course, this concept is very mainstream now. It’s just interesting that restaurants in Burlington have been doing this for the last 15 years. Super cool.
I’ve found yet another reason to visit Vermont: they’ve now got a Cidery! Since discovering I’m fairly gluten-intolerant, I’m not able to drink drink beer much anymore. Which can be pretty tough when you’re smack-dab in the state with the most craft breweries per capita (Ugh!)
Thankfully, I like wine too and there are more cider companies popping up too these days.
I was never a huge cider fan, but that’s because Strongbow was the only one around for so long (too dry for my liking). I found two awesome ciders when I first went to BC (Okanagan & Growers) but they were (until recently) hard to get here in Ontario. As a result, I almost never drank cider.
But with the gluten-free craze and a fairly saturated craft-beer market, ciders are starting to get a lot more popular. We’ve got a great cidery in Ontario called ‘County Cider’ which I toured awhile back.But other than that, there isn’t too much else around (at least in Ontario). I know someone who is thinking about starting a Cidery here in Ottawa, so hopefully that’ll come to fruition. With the explosion of local craft breweries here in Ottawa– it’ll be nice to see a good cidery here, too.
So, when I learned the news that Burlington has a local cidery now, I was ecstatic. Cowboy and I found this out while at a local restaurant (Farmhouse) in downtown Burlington. The bartender told us they had a LOCAL cider on tap and asked if we wanted a sample. I was giddy with excitement. This delicious concoction was called ‘Unified Press’, made by ‘Citizen Cider’. It was delicious! So, we decided that the next day we were going to check this place out.
The next day after lunch, we hopped in the car, punched the address into the GPS and set out to find Citizen Cider.
Easier said than done, as it turns out.
We had a hard time finding the building as it was in an industrial area and it wasn’t well-marked (note: it’s moved since, to a much better location. See end of post for info).
We finally found it and as we were entering the building, one of the brewery workers told us they were actually in the process of moving because of the high increase in demand. We could see why as it was a pretty tiny spot.
It was pretty quiet when we walked in, but it was early January right after the holidays and it was snowing. So, not exactly prime cider-drinkin’ weather. But a snowstorm just can’t keep us hardy Canadians away!
The bartender was a little non-impressed to see us and we felt like maybe they were actually closed, after all. But it was indeed open and as we chatted with her a bit, she warmed up a little. So far everyone else we met here (brewers etc) were super friendly, so we chocked it up to the snowy weather, and as a result, not really expecting anyone.
We learned that Citizen Cider was stated in 2011 by three guys: a wine salesmen, a chemist, and a small farmer. Their slogan is ‘Get Excidered’, and rest assured you will be once you try their delicious offerings. With names like “Dirty Mayor” and ‘The Full Nelson” I had a feeling I’d love anything I was going to try here.
The first sample on the list was the one we tried yesterday: ‘Unified Press’, their flagship cider. It’s a fairly light, not too sweet, crisp and a very easy-drinking cider. It’s the perfect cider to sip on the patio on a warm, summer day. Or maybe during a snowstorm in January 😀
Next up, we met “The Dirty Mayor” (bonus points on their fun, clever names). This is more of a summery cider as it’s got a nice lemon-ginger mix going on. Sort of a wacky, yummy lemonade with a funky twist. Very tasty and different.
The 3rd offering was a Blueberry Cider called ‘Brose’. This is basically their apple cider mixed with fresh blueberries. Definitely my favourite so far, as it was delicious and had the right amount of fruity accent to it, without being overpowering. Plus it’s unique as I’ve tried a lot of apple, peach or strawberry ciders, but never a blueberry one. I was definitely picking up a bottle of this one to take home.
Our last sample was was the AmeriCRAN. Yep, it’s an apple cider combined with cranberries which resulted in a vibrant pink cider. It had a nice mix of tart and sweet, but with a lot of flavour. I found it similar to a champagne as it had a nice, bubbly taste. I really liked this one so I added this to my take-out list as well.
Cowboy’s favourite was the ‘Unified Press’. He’s more of a beer drinker and finds some ciders way too sweet, but he really liked this one, so we grabbed a bottle of that one too.
We really enjoyed the ‘tasting tour’ and we can’t wait to head back to Burlington to see their new digs (it’s been a couple of years now, so a return visit is long overdue). And, apparently, they’ve got a bigger tasting room with food offerings too, which sounds delightful. I can’t wait!
Heading to Vermont soon and love a good cider? Be sure to swing by Citizen Cider. You’ll find them at 316 Pine Street (Suite 114). Enjoy getting Excidered! Don’t forget to let me know what you think if you do go….and maybe grab me a couple bottles too, if you don’t mind. Thanks a bunch, guys! xo