Review of Alpenfire Ember, made from bittersweet apples. I tried this a couple years back (see here), but wanted to give a full bottle a go, as my tastes have changed since then. I’ve also tried Alpenfire’s Dungeness, Spark, Smoke, ApoCalypso, Simple Cider, Calypso, Pirate’s Plank, Glow, Cinders, Shrub, Spiced Tonic Shrub, Traditional Heirloom Cider, and Flame.
Cider: Ember (old world bittersweet, estate sparkling cider)
Cidery Location: Port Townsend WA
How Supplied: 750ml capped bottles
Style: American organic artisan cider from bittersweet apples (from their own orchard), bottle conditioned
Cider Description: Alpenfire’s Ember is a late season Estate Organic Bittersweet cider. Medium Sweet with big round tannins and a long finish. Think…walking through an orchard in late fall. Varietals – Vilberie, Dabinett, Brown Snout, & Yarlington Mill apple varieties. Process – 8 week ferment, 7 month stainless maturation, bottle conditioned.
Cidery Description: Alpenfire Organic Cider is made from our estate and locally grown organic apples. We planted our WSDA certified organic orchard in 2004 with over 800 trees and 10 varieties of English, French & Early American cider specific apples. These apples have been used for hundreds of years for the unique qualities they bring to cider production. Namely the tannins and bitters not found in dessert style apples. While the juice, much less the fruit, of many of these apples would be hard to enjoy by the glass they become amazing with a little fermentation. One of our favorites, the “Muscadet de Dieppe”, has a viscous, winey, yes, even musky juice. It takes months of slow, cool fermentation for that to develop the subtle aroma and flavor you will find in our bone-dry cider. We augment our juice and mellow the flavors with organic apples from other local orchards.
They have a tasting room in Port Townsend WA, open seasonally.
Where Bought: The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank: home
How Found: Browsing. It was 20% off, so an easy decision.
First Impression: Moderate amber orange hue. Very low carbonation with some foam and film.
Tasting Notes: On the sweeter side of semi-dry. Medium bodied. Moderate tartness and acidity. High tannins. Low bitterness. Hints of funk. No sourness. Notes of rich bittersweet apple pomace, caramel, orange, leather, and honey. Long tannic finish. Moderate to high flavor intensity and complexity. Moderate apple flavor. Low sessionability.
My Opinion: Awesome! Its crazy how much tastes can change in just a couple years, as I didn’t like this cider back then, but now its my favorite type of cider. Rich and complex, with a lip-smacking amount of tannins.
Most Similar to: This is the closest I’ve tasted to an English cider that was made in the U.S. More than Liberty’s English Style for example, which has more acidity and less tannins. As far as English ciders, it is most like Henney’s Vintage, Dunkertons Dry, and Newton’s Court Gasping Goose – which are all some of my favorites!
Closing Notes: Although a bit more costly per ounce than many English ciders (as even though the cost of import is high, it costs much less over there to make a cider from cider apples), for being made locally, this is an amazing value (as these apples are rare). Plus, it is even certified organic. Alpenfire has been making a lot of changes lately, with a re-branding / new bottle labels, new cider releases, and the debut of a cider club.
Have you tried Alpenfire Ember? What did you think?