Introducing The Throwback Issue
Yesterday meets Today. In the next few months, Toast will move into retrograde and explore and reflect on those who came before us — innovators, visionaries and trailblazers — and how their influence laid a foundation for this generation.
Lead photo credit Samantha Chamberlain
Trailblazer Peter Reimer is owner of Spot on Cider, near Saskatoon
Brace yourselves. Saskatchewan is about to emerge on the world stage for craft cider production with Peter Reimer at the helm.
If you have an interest in craft cider from Saskatchewan, you’ve definitely heard Peter’s name. He’s an engineer turned cidermaker who’s innovating and paving the way for craft cider production in Saskatchewan, and he’s the owner of the emerging Spot On Cider located just outside of Saskatoon.
“Peter is the epitome of craft,” says John Cote, fellow local craft beverage producer at the distinguished Black Fox Farm and Distillery. Before Peter emerged on the scene, the craft cider industry in Saskatchewan was pretty much non-existent, mostly due to the environmental factors of growing apples in this climate. But like a true trailblazer, he set out to create an exceptional regional product that has its roots in innovative, local agriculture.
“Initially I wanted to be an orchard owner. And then I was thinking, okay, how do you be an orchard owner and make money as a fruit grower? You’ve gotta add value, like fermenting the fruit into a product for consumers.”
Peter also picked up some insight from his time at the University of Saskatchewan; there are a lot of apple growers who planted orchards but didn’t necessarily have a market for their fruit.
“I saw that as an opportunity. I could use the existing acreage that was already being grown here.”
Researching the craft cider potential of the prairie apple… and winning
He dove headfirst into prairie apple research. He partnered and worked with the University of Saskatchewan’s fruit program and tried to get as much information as possible about the apples being produced in Saskatchewan and how good they were for cider.
“The University of Saskatchewan is doing really important stuff for the viability of an apple industry in Saskatchewan. Without the work they do in preserving these cold-hardy cultivars, there’s a good chance some of them would be lost to history. This is due in large part to a lifetime of work that head technician, Rick Sawatzky, has invested there. Thanks to him, we have a huge gene pool of apples to draw from… there is hope for a Saskatchewan apple industry, which is exciting for those of us who make cider with the stuff.”
It turns out that prairie apples are exceptional for making cider. “Compared to dessert apples, prairie apples are much higher in the things that make cider taste interesting. Their fruit is so high in polyphenols and acid that they were too astringent or sour to eat. This has had the unintended consequence of making them world class cider apples, rivalling the cider cultivars of France, England, Normandy or Spain. They are a true representation of our region, an expression of our “terroir,” if you will. They’re something that could put the Prairies on the map.”
And he’s not wrong! His cider tastes phenomenal. Full of pleasing aromas and flavours that will make you rethink what the Prairies taste like. Let’s raise a glass to this Saskatchewan craft beverage pioneer.
Currently, you can find Spot On Cider on the following rotating taps around the province: Metro Liquor Stores, Shelter Brewing, Wolf Willow Winery, Prairie Sun Brewery, High Key Brewing, and La Belle Patate Bistro. More locations to come fall of 2020!
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