Alpenfire Tempest New England Style

Review of Alpenfire Tempest, a newish special release, New England Style (with raisins & brown sugar, high ABV, aged).  It is my first time trying this, although I’ve had other New England Style ciders, and tried most of Alpenfire’s line-up (see here).

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Cider:  Tempest
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  10%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American artisan New England Style cider (4 week fermentation, tank aged 5 months, bottle conditioned)

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Availability:  special release in fall 2017 (55 cases), likely only available in Western WA, although they have online sales (but I didn’t see this one at the time of review)

Cider Description:  Alpenfire’s Tempest, a new release from the 2016 harvest. Phenolic and spiritous, rounded and warming. A proper fall cider, estate apples refermented with raisins and brown sugar. Create your own tempest in a tea cup with this winter warmer.

Apple Varieties:  Muscadet de dieppe, Kingston Black, Liberty, Republican, Democrat, plus many more

Cidery Description:  Alpenfire Cider, the West’s first certified organic cidery, growing traditional cider apples since 2003.  Family owned and operated.

Price:  $15
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Medium pumpkin orange amber.  Still.  Smells of bittersweet & heirloom apples with a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low funk and tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of bittersweet apple, apple pomace, must, orange, and leather.  Long finish with a hint of sourness and an herbal quality.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  This really reminded me of English cider, with the cider apple flavor, slightly higher sweetness, and funk.  I loved the flavor and style.  It really had all my favorites qualities all in one package, which is rare (rich, complex, flavorful, mid level sweetness, cider apples, and higher ABV).  I’m also a fan of the 500ml bottles, as I’m more likely to buy them (plus it probably reduced the price of this cider from ~$20 to $15).

Most Similar to:  New England style cider isn’t too common so I’ve only tried four others that I can remember, but this is my favorite by far, likely due to its similarity to English cider.  Otherwise, Alpenfire Tempest was similar to Cockrell’s Colonial Winter, more flavorful & complex than Seattle Cider’s New England Style, less sour than Reverend Nat’s Providence, and more traditional than Tilted Shed’s Barred Rock.

Closing Notes:  I am really excited to try more of Alpenfire’s new releases, which have been very plentiful of late, as they are are my favorite Washington cidery.

Have you tried New England Style cider?  What did you think?

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Alpenfire Ember

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.

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Cider:  Ember (old world bittersweet, estate sparkling cider)
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  7.3%
How Supplied:  750ml capped bottles
Style:  American organic artisan cider from bittersweet apples (from their own orchard), bottle conditioned

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Availability:  Primarily Western Washington, including these retailers.  They also have an online store through Vino Shipper which ships to states which allow it.

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.

Price:  $18.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was 20% off, so an easy decision.

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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?

Alpenfire Flame

Review of Alpenfire Flame, a methode champenoise style Extra Brut cider.  It is my first time trying this one, although I have tried every other cider from Alpenfire:  DungenessSpark, SmokeApoCalypsoEmber, Simple Cider, Calypso, Pirate’s Plank, Glow, Cinders, Shrub, Spiced Tonic Shrub, and Heirloom Dry.

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Cider:  Flame (2011 vintage)
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottles
Style:  Organic American artisinal champagne-style cider

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Availability:  Primarily Western Washington, including these retailers.  They also have an online store through Vino Shipper which ships to states which allow it.

Cider Description:  A true “Methode Champenoise” cider. Made Primarily with Fox-whelp and Muscadet de Dieppe apples. We use Champagne traditions to develop a crackling carbonation with bright acidity and dryness. (This is part of their estate line of ciders, made from their own orchard’s organic apples.)

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.

Price:  $24.99
Where Bought:  Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It was the only cider from them I hadn’t tried yet.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation (which was surprising…I’m guessing this lost its fizz over the last 6 years).  Smells acidic, of citrus, and a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light bodied, with a creamy but slightly effervescent mouthfeel.  Moderate tartness.  Very high acidity.  Low bitterness, funk, and tannins.  Hints of sourness.  Sharp flavor notes of lemon, heirloom apple pomace, herbs, vinegar, yeast, and mineral.  Moderate length warming finish.  Moderate complexity.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Low sessionability.  Low apple flavor.

My Opinion:  This was nice, but not a favorite style of mine.  I was hoping for some bittersweet apple flavor, but it was more bittersharp and heirloom (for a lot of bittersweet apple flavor, as well as high tannins, try their Ember).  I’m curious if the flavor also changed with the loss of carbonation.

Most Similar to:  Alpenfire Pirate’s Plank, Eden Sparkling Dry, Eve’s Beckhorn Hollow, Eve’s Autumn’s Gold, Farnum Hill Extra Dry, Liberty Crabenstein, and Liberty New World Style

Closing Notes:  I can now say I’ve tried every Alpenfire cider!  My favorite remains Smoke, which is in a class of its own (but I also really enjoy SparkApoCalypsoSimple Cider, CalypsoGlow, and Heirloom Dry).

Have you tried Alpenfire Flame?  What did you think?

Alpenfire Spark!

Review of Alpenfire Spark!, their semi-sweet cider.  I’ve tried it a couple times before, but only bottle pours.  I’ve tried most of Alpenfire’s ciders–DungenessSpark, SmokeApoCalypsoEmberSimple Cider, Calypso, Pirate’s Plank, Glow, Cinders, and Shrub.

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Cider:  Spark!
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  8.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  Organic American craft cider from heirloom & cider apple varieties, sugar added

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Availability:  Year round in Washington and their online store

Cider Description:  Spark! is blended from Melrose, Kings, Gravenstein, Winter banana, burgundys and other heritage apples as well as traditional cider apples. This bottle conditioned, unfiltered cider has the wonderfully crisp flavor of a just picked fall apple. This semi sweet cider is delicious with a appetizers, especially cheese and fruit.

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.

Price:  $15.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I’ve been wanting to pick up an Alpenfire bottle, and this is one of my favorites from them (in addition to SmokeApoCalypso, and Glow).

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First Impression:  Light pumpkin amber hue.  Low carbonation and foam.  Smells tannic, of honey and apple pomace.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness.  Moderate to high acid.  Low to moderate tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Apple-forward and rich.  Notes of apple pomace, honey, orange, and leather.  Moderate finish length.  Moderate to high apple flavor, sessionability, and flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity,

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I forgot how much I like this cider.  Its easily in my top 10 favorites, and has all my favorite cider qualities.  It would be a great introduction to “real” cider (made with cider apples), as it is sweeter and doesn’t have any overwhelming qualities.

Most Similar to:  English cider such as from Aspall (except a bit sweeter and less yeast-forward), Bertolinos, and E.Z. Orchards Semi-Dry.

Closing Notes:   I think this cider is a great choice and a good value too.  Their Smoke is my favorite, but I need to be in a certain mood for that one…Spark is way more easy drinking.

Have you tried Alpenfire Spark?  What did you think?

Alpenfire Calypso – Blackberry Rum Barrel Aged Cider

Review of Alpenfire’s Calypso, a cider with blackberries aged in rum barrels.  I’ve tried this before, as well as the draft-only version of this which has double the blackberries and is barrel aged 4 instead of 2 months, Apocalypso (see here), but this is the first bottle I’ve bought.  I’ve also sampled most of their line-up; see here.

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Cider:  Calypso
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft cider from heirloom apples, with local blackberries, aged for 2 months in toasted oak rum barrels

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Availability:  Primarily Western Washington, including these retailers.  They also have an online store through Vino Shipper which ships to states which allow it.

Cider Description:  Calypso, named for the legendary sea goddess and the research vessel of Captain Jacques Cousteau.  This delightful sparkling taste of the Northwest is aged in Bull Run Distilling Rum barrels to bring a hint of the South Seas to the mix.  Heirloom apple is the dominant flavor, the beautiful scent and hint of fresh Greysmarsh Farm blackberries comes second.  Bottle conditioning adds a delightful sparkle and full bodied flavor!  You don’t want to miss this limited production cider.

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 an outdoor tasting room onsite at their Orchard in Port Townsend, open seasonally.

Price:  $11.99
Where Bought:  Whole Foods
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  It sounded good that day, but I actually didn’t open it up for a few weeks.

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First Impression:  Deep cranberry hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells mildly of blackberries with a hint of oak.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of blackberries, plus some raspberry & blueberry & red grape, and hints of oak.  Moderate length finish with slight warming.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate blackberry flavor.  Low rum and oak influence.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate sessionability.

My Opinion: Yum!  Quite tasty.  This is my favorite berry cider, which typically isn’t a category I find impressive.

Most Similar to:  Other berry ciders, although I find this to be more sophisticated and complex, even a bit wine-like.  I prefer their Apocalypso with its stronger oak and rum notes, but it is quite seasonable / hard to find, and only on draft.

Closing Notes:   Another winner from Alpenfire!  I like nearly every cider they make, and look forward to seeing what they come up with next.  I think for what you get they are a great value, as they are a step above most other craft ciders, actually an Artisan product, as they grow most of the apples for their ciders themselves, as use primarily heirloom and cider apple varieties (instead of dessert apples).  Check out my post here from when I visited the cidery.

Have you tried Alpenfire Calypso?  What did you think?

Schilling Cider House Visit 16 Tasting Notes

Tasting notes from my sixteenth visit to the Schilling Cider House in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle WA.  Check out my past posts with tasting notes here.  I was there on a Tuesday evening for a tasting event with Alpenfire Cider (from Port Townsend WA).  Its pretty rare they do events, besides some pricey (but awesome sounding) dinners with cider pairings.

Philippe (Nancy & Bear’s son) was there from Alpenfire.  The Cider House was featuring a flight of six ciders from Alpenfire (five of which were bottle pours, which was a first for the Cider House, and Apocalypso on draft, which is a rarity for Alpenfire) plus a Shrub cider cocktail.

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I arrived early so I tried a few ciders before the event.  I had been there just a week earlier, but quite a few of the taps turned over (although there weren’t too many I hadn’t tried).

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<left to right: Eaglemount Perry, Locust Apricot, and Carlton Bourbon Peachy Keen>

Eaglemount (Port Townsend WA) Perry (8.0% ABV): Smells of pear and citrus, slightly sour.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness and acidity.  Mild bitterness.  Hints of sourness, funk, and tannins.  Notes of pear, citrus, spice, and vanilla.  Alcohol-forward and sharp.  Moderate length finish.

Locust Cider (Woodinville WA) Apricot (6.0% ABV): Smells sweet, of apricot and peach.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  A hint of bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Medium flavor intensity with simple but real tasting apricot flavor.  Quick finish.

Carlton Cider (McMinnville OR) Bourbon Peachy Keen (6.5% ABV): Foamy.  Smells of bourbon and fruitiness (peach and apricot). Semi-dry to dry.  Very light bodied with a frothy mouthfeel.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Low barrel influence.  Moderate spirit influence.  Medium to long length finish.  They also make a non barrel aged version of this cider.

alpenfire
<Alpenfire cider tasting>

The Alpenfire ciders were ready as it got closer to 6pm.  I’ve previously tried all the ciders they were offering in the flight, so I decided to just order a pint of Apocalypso (a draft-only version of their Calypso blackberry rum barrel aged cider with double the blackberries and barrel aged 4 instead of 2 months).

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Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Apocalypso (6.5% ABV): Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Mild to moderate tartness.  Mild acidity.  Mild tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Mild rum influence.  Moderate barrel (oak) influence.  Moderate blackberry flavor.  Moderate length finish.

I also tried a couple sips of the Shrub cocktail, made with Alpenfire bittersweet cider, Alpenfire apple cider vinegar, blackberry puree, and sparkling water.

Alpenfire (Port Townsend WA) Shrub: Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Vinegar more in the scent than flavor.  There is tartness and a hint of vinegar flavor, but not any sourness like I was expecting.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Moderate blackberry flavor.  Moderate length finish.  Unique, but not my thing.

My favorite of the night was the Alpenfire Apocalypso cider.  I liked this batch even better than the last one I tried for WA cider week 2015 at the Burgundian Bar (see here), as it was slightly sweeter, more fruity, and more oaky.

They even got in some bottles of Alpenfire Cinders (the Méthode Champenoise version of Glow, their rosé cider made with red-fleshed apples).  Its a rare find outside of the Alpenfire tap room (which I visited in February; see here).  I actually prefer Glow though, as its sweeter and more flavorful.

Stay tuned for more Schilling Cider House tasting notes here at Cider Says!  Have you had any good draft cider / cider flights recently?

Alpenfire Cider Glow

Review of Alpenfire Cider’s Glow rosé cider, made from red-fleshed Hidden Rose apples.  I’ve tried a number of their ciders; see here.  They also make a Methode Champenoise version of this cider called Cinders, which is quite different; see my tasting notes on that cider here.

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Cider:  Glow
Cidery:  Alpenfire Cider
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  8.2%
How Supplied:  750 ml bottles
Style:  American craft single varietal cider from Hidden Rose red-fleshed apples

These are actually a dessert apple variety (rare for Alpenfire, as they use primarily cider and heirloom apple varieties).  Hidden Rose apples are rare in the U.S. as the majority are shipped to Japan, where they can fetch $12-$15 per apple!  They tried to grow these in the Alpenfire orchard, but they weren’t thriving in the cool climate, so now they source them from Oregon, where the variety was discovered in the 1960s.

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Availability:  Likely only in Western Washington.  This is part of their Burnt Branch Reserve, so it also isn’t as prevalent as some of their other varieties such as Pirate’s Plank.

Cider Description:  Glow is a single varietal rosé cider.  The color in this unique cider comes not from the skin like in a wine rosé, but from the bright red flesh of the Hidden Rose apple.  This incredible apple makes a cider with a crisp acidity and a tropical fruit flavor.

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.

Price:  $28
Where Bought:  the Alpenfire cidery (although it is available near me in the Seattle area)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I was there for a tasting (my first time trying Glow).  See my post here.

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First Impression:  Beautiful deep rosé hue.  Smells sweet & apple forward (reminds me of ice cider) and fruity (strawberries & watermelon).  Almost no carbonation upon pouring.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Moderate to high tartness when I first opened it, but after sitting overnight it was down to mild tartness.  Moderate acidity.  A hint of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness.  Still.  Medium bodied.  Notes of sweet apple, cherry, strawberry, and watermelon.  The flavor starts tart and finishes sweet.  Moderate finish length.  Moderate to strong apple influence.  Low to moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  Awesome!  I love how unique, flavorful, and fruity this is.  However, I like it better when it is lower tartness (I think the complexity can better shine through).  So, when I have this again, I’ll let it breathe first.

Most Similar to:  The only other rosé red-fleshed apple cider I’ve had is Snowdrift Red.  That one is closer to $20 and has greater distribution, but isn’t a single varietal.  I find Snowdrift Red to be slightly drier and much higher carbonated.  Both cider are fairly tart and very fruity.

Closing Notes:   Another winner from Alpenfire.  This is one of my favorites from them.  I think my absolute favorite however is Smoke.  I love that they make such a wide range of ciders, and have a real commitment to being a small artisan cidery who produces outstanding ciders (and vinegars).

Have you tried Alpenfire Glow?  What did you think?