Red Island Cider celebrates their grand opening in Charlottetown

It was a chilly and cloudy day, but the mood at Red Island Cider was warm and bright. After multiple challenges getting up and running, the newest hard cider business in PEI opened its doors on May 17.

Hundreds of people came through the doors and the cider taps ran constantly from noon to eight, filling glasses full. There were three ciders on tap to choose from: Father Walker, The Devonport, and Ghost Ship. Eight weeks in the making, all have an apple base, but the cidery will be brewing with additional fruits in the future, including a blueberry cider called Blueshank Blueberry. It is made with Wyman’s blueberries and will be ready in a few weeks.

Robert van Waarden and James Van Toever are childhood friends who decided to start Red Island Cider. They set their business in motion 18 months ago and had many hiccups along the way (see this previous Salty story), but seeing the crowd embrace their product was worth the wait.

“It was great, it was very exciting,” van Waarden said. “It was a better reception than we were expecting; I knew we were going to do well but I didn’t expect so many people.”

The cidery is located in the heart of Charlottetown on Longworth Ave and has a small taproom attached to the production facility where patrons can enjoy a glass of cider, get a growler filled to take home, or purchase individual bottles of cider to go. “We had 160 growlers go out the door,” van Waarden said. And he noted with pleasure that some of those patrons returned the next day to get their growlers refilled.

Red Island Cider is also on tap at multiple spots in Charlottetown including: bar1911, The Old Triangle, The Pilot House, Hopyard, Craft Beer Corner, Salt & Sol, John Brown Grill, and Churchill Arms. “We did an amazing job to get it into bars a day before, so we could tell people [to go to other spots] when the party was over, and actually a lot of them went over across the street to [bar]1911,” van Waarden said. They also plan to expand distribution to the east and west of the Island, and you can grab a glass at the new-opened Bogside Brewing in Montague to start.

As people flooded in and out of the cidery, accolades for the cider were heard far and wide. Self-proclaimed cider haters enjoyed the lighter taste of Father Walker, a dry cider with a light finish. The Devonport is a cider that has been dry-hopped, which gives it a slightly sweeter taste, but without the classic bitterness of an IPA. It has a clear apple taste that is not lost among the hops. Ghost Ship is a more traditional tasting cider, but still on the dry side. Father Walker and The Devonport will be flagship cider for the business, with Ghost Ship being a series that will change frequently.

Bar manager Rod Weatherbie was pleased with the support the new cidery received. “Everyone seemed to be really happy that there was a cider house, or a cidery, open in Charlottetown,” he said. “People are usually excited when you open a new place because it’s a new place, but people were also excited because it’s a new product to here. People were really happy about that.”

If the opening day was an indication of Islanders’ desire for local cider, the future looks bright for Red Island Cider. At the end of the evening, van Waarden took a breath, and said “we’re gonna need a bigger facility!”

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

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