Chances are, if you’re a cider drinker in Ontario, you’ve seen Thornbury Craft Cider & Brew House‘s colourful cans in LCBOs around the province. The full Thornbury menu has quite the variety to choose from, and the same goes for their beer and wine options. If you’re looking for a sunny patio to enjoy a crisp cool award-winning bevy this summer, the trip to Thornbury is worth it. Sample a few while you soak in the sun and take some home to share with friends and family!
If you want to learn more about the Ontario Cider Trail, stay tuned to the blog for more features on the unique businesses, individuals, and apples behind each refreshing sip!
At a Glance
- Location: Thornbury, Ontario (restaurant)
- ABV: 4% – 7.1%
- Cans or Bottles: 473ml cans & 500 ml bottles
- Price Range: $3.65 – $3.85 (cans) & $4.95 – $7.95 (bottles) & $9.95 (Sparkling Celebration Cider)
- Where to Buy: Thornbury Craft Cider & Brew House, LCBO, Colio
- Style: traditional English cider
- Dietary Notes: gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan
History of Thornbury Craft Cidery
What began as a wooden apple storage building for passing trains to load up at has blossomed into the home of a thriving beverage business over 100 years later. Before hopping into Thornbury Craft Cider & Brew House’s history, we should back up and chat about the Georgian Bay Fruit Growers Association. Formed in 1905 by brothers John and George Mitchell, as well as William Reekie, John Veith, and Albert Moore, they set the foundation for the lush area’s apple industry. Realizing the potential of the climate and terrain, John was ahead of his time, playing and experimenting with different varietals of apples and other fruit. He was so successful that he landed provincial government contracts. In 1905, the Georgian Bay Fruit Growers Association built a large apple storage facility and just 6 years later they incorporated, selling shares in their organization. In 1932, the Mitchell family’s success continued and they built a production plant for cider, apple juice, apple sauce, and vinegar.
At the turn of the 20th century, steam trains would trek from Toronto to load up with country bounty at the wooden apple storage building before transporting it to the Big Smoke. There, nature’s candy was distributed to the city folk and shipped to the UK. Over the decades, the building underwent many changes, including succumbing to a fire in 1928. After being rebuilt in the 1930s with concrete and 4″ natural cork insulated walls, it morphed through phases as an apple storage centre, a flea market, an ammunition storage facility, and a nuclear fallout shelter. Come the late ’50s, the building was closed. In 2007, Thornbury Village Cidery moved in and in 2017 the building opened as the restaurant and production facility that it is today.
Originally King Brewery, Thornbury Beverage Company acquired the local brewer in 2015 and moved the brewery from Nobleton to Thornbury. There, King Brewery was blended with Thornbury Village Cidery Inc., which had opened in 2007, and Thornbury Craft Cider & Brew House was born. Thornbury’s Head Cider Master Doug Johnson, a passionate and knowledgeable biochemist, has led the team through endless experimentations and successes from the start. Interestingly, the first Thornbury cider was developed in his basement, before he worked for the cidery. For all of the beer drinkers reading this, Thornbury is one of very few decoction method brew houses in Canada. As a non-beer drinker, I had to Google what that meant and it still doesn’t mean much to me…but maybe it will for you craft beer connoisseurs!
A Treasure Hunt for You
For all of my puzzle lovers and treasure hunters out there, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a wee nugget for you to search out when visiting Thornbury Cidery. If you’re familiar with the South Georgian Bay area, you may have heard of Clarksburg, a neighbouring town only 5 minutes away. The annual fall fair used to be held there and in 1912 the event poster featured a man riding a large pig. It may seem odd to suggest, but keep an eye out for that little piggy around the venue. Not a live pig, mind you, but a character named Clark sprinkled throughout Thornbury imagery.
Where is Thornbury Cider Sold?
If you’re looking for a day trip to the South Georgian Bay area, definitely visit the cidery and brewery on Highway 26 (90 King St E, Thornbury, Ontario). They have a large outdoor seating area, perfect for enjoying a refreshing cold drink on a summer day. There is also indoor seating and a fully stocked store ready to welcome you. If a road trip isn’t in the cards, or you don’t live in the area, Thornbury craft cider is sold in select LCBOs.
Thornbury has a pretty wide variety of ciders to choose from, including standard options such as the Premium Apple Cider, collaborations like those with the legendary Canadian band The Tragically Hip, and creative variations like Wild Blueberry Elderflower Apple Cider and the most popular in-house option, the Blood Orange Apple Cider which is also found on tap. Many of their ciders have won awards at The Royal Craft Beer and Cider Awards, the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition, and at the Great International Beer, Cider, Mead, and Sake Competition, among others. They also introduced cider seltzer to their menu, which is more carbonated along with a cider base.
- Thornbury Premium Apple Cider
- Cranberry Apple Cider
- Wild Blueberry Elderflower Apple Cider
- Spiced Apple Cider
- Honeycrisp Apple Cider
- Rosé Apple Cider
- Thornbury Craft x The Tragically Hip Road Apples Cider (popular)
- Zero Gram Sugar Apple Cider
- Pear Apple Cider
- Blood Orange Apple Cider (most popular)
- Tropical Apple Cider (popular)
- Peach Apple Cider
- Raspberry Apple Cider
- Craft Sparkling Cider
- Celebration Cider (popular) *bonus taste test they offered while I was there
- *Red Door Releases
Thornbury Village Cider House & Brewery has long experimented with creative cider flavours. Some of their past creations include: Dry Hopped Cranberry, Red Prince, Orange Chocolate Cranberry, Tart Cherry, Blood Orange Pomegranate, Elderflower, Honey, and perhaps the two most outlandish ones I’ve heard of yet… Cranberry Cocoa Hazelnut and Raspberry Chocolate. Would you try any of these? Curiosity would definitely twist my arm to give them a taste!
Make sure to stay tuned to their website and socials for the very special Red Door Releases, named for the building’s original apple storage door. These small batch ciders and beers are exclusively sold on location.
Events & Experiences
Thornbury Craft Cider & Brew House is a happening place, with events held year-round. They’ve participated in several larger festivals, such as the Toronto Cider Festival, Toronto Craft Beer Festival, Toronto Ribfest, and Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival. At their restaurant in Thornbury, they host trivia nights, Meet the (cider and beer) Masters maker events, and have a steady stream of live music events.
When I visited, I tried a cider flight with the Tragically Hip collaboration, as well as the Peach, Raspberry, and Pear ciders. I was also fortunate to get a taster of the Celebration Sparkling Cider. I enjoyed the Tragically Hip collab the best and brought some home in cans to share with friends and family.
Other Cideries in the South Georgian Bay Region
If you’re in the South Georgian Bay area, you’re in luck! There are several amazing cideries within a short driving distance from each other, including Duntroon Cyderhouse, Spy Cider House and Distillery, Grey and Gold Cider, Duxbury Cider Co., and Coffin Ridge Vineyard & Winery.
Ontario Cider Trail Map
Prep for your own Ontario Cider Trail adventures by loading this map I made onto your phone.
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Plan Your Visit to Thornbury Village
How to Get There
Thornbury is located on beautiful Georgian Bay, halfway between Meaford and Collingwood, and approximately 2.5 hours north of Toronto. If you’re leaving from southwestern Ontario, follow the directions below:
- Hwy 410 N
- Continue onto Hurontario St (ON-10/Orangeville)
- Turn left onto ON-10 / ON-89 W
- Turn right onto County Rd 124
- Take a left onto Grey Rd 4
- Turn right onto Grey Rd 2
- Take a left onto ON-26 W in The Blue Mountains
Where to Stay in Thornbury and Georgian Bay
There are many different places to stay in Thornbury to suit any travel style. For those who prefer hotels, book a stay at the popular 4-season Royal Harbour Resort. The resort is not dog-friendly, however there is a nearby boarding option at Blue Mountain Veterinary Services for your furry family members. You can enjoy a 2-bedroom lakeview suite and balcony facing Georgian Bay and the marina, or a studio room that sleeps up to 4 people. Both options include a fully-equipped kitchen and a fireplace. If you’re all about the amenities on your trip, Royal Harbour Resort has you covered with just about everything you could wish for: an indoor salt water heated pool, gym and sauna, hot tub, games room, BBQs, pickle ball and tennis courts, a games room, and even bicycles for you to ride around town!
Love a unique Instagrammable boutique motel? Look no further than Penny’s Motel & Après Snack Bar! The 13-room motel on Highway 26 was built in 1974 and still sports the original sign for a bit of nostalgia amongst the modern-day touches. In 2021, John Belknap, a hospitality entrepreneur from Toronto who has been skiing in South Georgian Bay most of his life, purchased and re-designed the motel. In addition to the colourful and cozy bedrooms, there are many other areas for you to rest and recharge. Outdoors there are several neat features that are perfect for mixing and mingling with other guests or simply enjoying the fresh air: a large outdoor 4-season patio, an herb garden, an art wall featuring Canadian artists, a bocce court, and a fire pit to perfectly cap off your day. Inside, the versatile reception area triples as a lobby bar, coffee station, and an oyster bar with seasonal menu offerings. In keeping with the local theme, they created a delicious apple Manhattan cocktail in recognition of South Georgian Bay’s delicious Apple Pie Trail. It’s also dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your pup! Did I mention it’s walking and biking distance to the water and downtown?
If house rentals are more your style, check out the wide variety of Thornbury homes and cottages on VRBO.
Food and Drink
Thornbury has a lot to offer the food and drink scene. Looking to start your day with a piping hot cuppa joe? Good Grief Coffee has your caffeine fix and your sugar fix with in-house made Instagrammable pastries. They also wholesale their beans, sell other coffee paraphernalia, and even have some healthy juices for sale too. Care for a fancy charcuterie board or an outdoor picnic? Head to The Cheese Gallery for all of your gourmet nibbles. Craving a hearty Italian dinner? There’s the mouthwatering Fabbrica restaurant on Bruce Street South. My favourite treat stop is found in nearby Meaford, and is an artisinal ice cream shop called PomPom.
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