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Geo Cider, #TacoChallengeYVR

Today my duties as this year’s Vancouver Foodster Best Taco Challenge judge brought me out to Squamish. A far drive, but one I don’t mind in the right vehicle and with the Sea to Sky’s scenic view.

Located in a business complex is Geo Cider, own and operated by the same folks who oversaw one of Squamish’s most popular taco food trucks: Luz Taco. They had been operating out of their parked truck by A-Frame Brewing, before spring of 2023.

Since then, they have merged with Geo Cider and have stopped operating their food truck, diverting loyal customers and locals to this location instead.

However, there is a hitch. Property management has strict rules regarding competition in the same vicinity, and seeing as there is already another business focusing on tacos here, Luz can no longer advertise their name in the same space. So instead they have become Geo Cider, a cider micro-brewery that also serves food. And not just tacos, but a more diverse menu that includes pastas, salads, burgers, and a slew of bar favourites; along side their ciders and cocktails featuring ciders.

And today, not only did we get a chance to try their tacos, but we got a behind the scenes tour of their cidery as well.

The cidery opened in 2019, but had really taken off until last year, with new management. Previously, they were only focusing on their operations, producing cider to wholesale to restaurants and specialty stores. Since the merger with Luz Tacos they have really began focusing more on the front of house experience, creating a hospitable atmosphere and launching a restaurant concept in what was once an industrial space.

We were led to the back, by-passing the small kitchen and into the back warehouse. Here, they have several vats where various flavours of their fruit ciders sit in fermentation. Each with a two week turn around. They add yeast to the fruit juice where fermentation is aided with the natural sugars of the fruit, turning it into alcohol. When time, each cider to be is filter through a system with 7 levels of filtering.

It is worth nothing that like wine, cider varies from vintage vintage, although Geo Cider does tru their best to keep everything as similar is possible batch to batch. This is done through moderating the temperature of the fermentation process within their workshop. Although they can’t control the apple crop that they source, how the weather and temperature affects their growth and inevitably taste.

This is where their operation gets bottlenecked, as the next step is to add CO₂ to the cider and thus adding the carbonated fizz that we know and enjoy. As they only have one machine, they are at the mercy of the time it takes and the speed in which it runs. However, their business is scalable, and they can triple their small batch operation by adding another stainless steel vat for the CO₂, as well as increasing the capacity of their fermentation vats, by building them up towards the ceiling.

And considering the speed in which their ciders, especially the non-alcoholic ones are selling, this may soon be a necessity. They have a line for 3 non-alcohol ciders that are currently only in the Nester’s Market in Squamish and Whistler. And as of now their margarita which has the taste of tequila but none of the potency, and the classic “old world apple” have sold out and are waiting for restock.

We were lucky to be able to try their non-alcoholic Rose and can testify that if we weren’t told that this had no alcohol in it, we couldn’t tell. It has the same effervescent nature of rose as well as the body of a young wine, but more palatable as a punch you’d enjoy on your porch.

But I digress, the next step in Geo Cider’s production process is the canning. This is a manual process and their team is small. Where their machine has the ability to fill two empty cans at a time.

We also got to see their stock pile of filled cans in the freezer and how the barrels are tapped and lead right to their tap room. (Hence the name)

We then learned how they infuse their own flavoured tequilas for their cider margaritas, all in house. They currently have two flavours and have two different tequilas for each. Using el Jimador tequila for both.

The sweeter fruit margarita uses jamaica, which is hibiscus water infused tequila, mixed with their dark fruit cider. And the spicy margarita uses habanero peppers they dry themselves, alongside their margarita cider or the blood orange one. We would try it with the latter. But first, we were able to try both of the infused tequilas as is. They are polar opposites the sweet floral is light and fresh. Whereas the pepper one had a tingling spice you couldn’t hide from, a tingling heat that lingered on the lips.

And it came out just the same in their blood orange cider spicy margarita. There was so much flavour to this cocktail. This is the first margarita I have had that when they say spicy, and they actually mean it. The heat tingles on its way down and is at the forefront of their spicy cocktail. And the tajin rim adds a similar yet contrasting salty tang for a cocktail that keeps the mouth interested from first sip to last.

We would then settle down for some more drinks and food. The tasting room includes a second floor mezzanine with additional seating, colouring for the kids, and board games for the whole family. The open space as a whole gave me Havana vibes with warm tone painted walls, a collection of fake and live plants, wicker lamp shades, and found shutters turned into mirrored wall decor. It took me away.

The owners admit it has been a roller coaster for them, opening March of 2023 with a shoe string budget. The community support for Luz Tacos as been tremendous with word of mouth directions on how to find their new home, which they cannot advertise as being connected to their old business.

Case in point, those who know Luz, know to come into Geo Cider and order their favourite tacos. Tacos not on the listed menu, like the Ceviche Taco we were having today. Take their fresh basa fish ceviche with plenty of citrus and fill it into a hard shell taco made from the same tortilla as their chips. Then top with salsa, and a mild guacamole paste. This is basically ceviche and chips, but made hand held for easier eating.

I highly recommend asking for some of their habanero hot sauce to have it with. Spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. It adds a nice roasted quality to the bites, while adding more depth. We ended up having it with everything else below.

The Jalapeño Poppers are a must try for me. Breaded jalapeño stuffed with sour cream; and either their mild, medium or hot salsa; finished off with guacamole and chipotle mayo. Taken in two bites, but best in one where a mouthful has the cream over filling within your mouth. This wasn’t too tangy, it had the perfect amount of acidity. A nice softened texture from the stewed pepper and the starch-like thickened cheese.

And the main reason why we were here was to try their Best Taco creation, the Stuffed Poblano Taco. This is the only vegetarian taco competing this year. This is a battered poblano pepper stuffed with creamy melted cheese, served on a corn tortilla, over a bed of tender cooked rice. All topped with a mild morita chile salsa, crumbled feta cheese, red onions, cilantro, and toasted sunflower seeds. And as a bonus, you also get a scoop, of refried Mexican beans on the side, topped with warm, fresh corn tortilla chips for dipping into, plus a side of tomato seasoned rice.

The pepper was well battered and fried, making it less clean and more satisfying. The rice ensured that this vegetable taco didn’t feel flimsy, but had some substance to it with the thick breading and the starchy base. And sunflower seeds added protein with crunch. I also really liked the beans as a spread, it wasn’t ashy or gritty but a nice addition to everything else. Overall this was a well conceived and well balanced vegetarian option. And with some of the habanero hot sauce, you weren’t left feeling like you were missing anything. This was also the most fulsome of all the taco combatants.

To drink I tried their ciders as a flight. They didn’t have all the flavours on tap, so we got the only four that they had available today. We missed out on their margarita cider, peach, and pear. But enjoyed their staple the Old world apple that wasn’t too sweet like other apple ciders, but more spirit than juice.

The Blood orange tasted more like dried apricot. I liked this one the most, as you don’t often encounter a flavour like this often. It was very lovely. The Dark fruit was the heaviest and strongest of the quartet. It offered a sharp tang, closest to the feeling of wine. Although the Black plum had the highest ABV at 7%, but didn’t show it or any signs of plum.

And for dessert we had a taster of their Horchata water. Made solely from rice, this is dairy free and vegan friendly. It was light and sweet and made for a great palate refresher. Their in house made mix is allowed to sit overnight where the paste settle: and the liquid is what is filtered out. To it they add vanilla and sugar to sweeten. It has the texture of water, but with the creaminess of milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl. This was very nice.

And we also got a taste of their Churro with Dulce de Leche caramel. (Note, this is a smaller version of their dessert). Available singular, or in a group of three, each home made and deep fried, coated in an even layer of cinnamon and sugar. Served crispy with a thick syrupy dip of milky caramel. This was a wonderful way to end the meal, you could taste the homemade love.

In conclusion, not only do they have the best apple cider I have had to date, but an excellent food and drink menu worth checking out as well. Considering we liked all that we tried, we would definitely be back to have more. Including their non-Mexican food options. I can recommend this one for your next trip to Squamish.

Geo Cider
1201 Commercial Way #318, Squamish, BC V8B OV1

1 thought on “Geo Cider, #TacoChallengeYVR”

  1. Geo Cider’s transition from taco truck to cider micro-brewery demonstrates adaptability and innovation. Despite challenges, they’ve created a welcoming space for patrons to enjoy handcrafted ciders and flavorful dishes. Their commitment to quality and creativity shines through, making them a must-visit destination in Squamish.

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