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.

2016-08-21 18.43.34.jpg

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

2016-08-21 18.43.40 2016-08-21 18.43.47 2016-08-21 18.43.53

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.

2016-08-21 18.44.47.jpg

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?

2 Towns Cellar Series La Mûre

Review of 2 Towns’ newest Cellar Series cider, La Mûre, a sour blackberry cider aged in Pinot Noir red wine barrels for over a year.  It is inspired by Belgian-style sour lambic beer.  I’ve tried most of their cider line-up; see my past reviews here.

2016-06-09 20.02.30.jpg

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  La Mûre
Cidery:  2 Towns
Cidery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle
Style:  American craft sour Belgian lambic beer inspired cider with blackberries, aged in Pinot Noir barrels

2016-06-09 20.02.36 2016-06-09 20.03.08 2016-06-09 20.02.56

Availability:  Limited release of 70 cases, mostly in the 2 Towns tap room and a few select accounts in Oregon.  In general 2 Towns ciders are available in AK, CA, HI, ID, IL (Chicago), MN, NV, OR, and WA.

Cider Description:  La Mûre is made with 100 percent fresh-pressed Northwest apples and whole, Oregon-grown blackberries…Inspired by the Flemish beers of Belgium, La Mûre is 6.9% ABV, bone dry, and holds complex fruit character. La Mûre is aged in local Pinot Noir barrels with lactobacillus for over a year, resulting in a strong backbone, light oak flavors and a wild lactic tang.  “This cider is for the more adventurous cider drinker who dabbles in wild ales, sour beers and farmhouse or Asturian-style ciders,” said Dave Takush, head cider maker at 2 Towns Ciderhouse. “La Mûre is French for blackberry. We named this cider after the berry  to pay homage to the Flemish ciders of Belgium, and echo wild lambic beers like framboise and cassis.”

Cidery Description:  At 2 Towns Ciderhouse we believe that the long history of cidermaking demands respect and deserves to be done right. Starting with the highest quality whole ingredients from local farms, we take no shortcuts in crafting our ciders. We never add any sugar, concentrates or artificial flavors, and instead use slow, cold fermentation methods to allow the fruit to speak for itself. As a family-owned company, we are committed to the growth of our team and enrichment of our communities. We take pride in producing true Northwest craft cider.

Price:  unknown (probably ~$20)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home, with a group
How Found:  n/a

2016-06-10 19.58.28.jpg

First Impression:  Red wine hue.  Still.  Slight turbidity and sediment.  Smells of blackberries, red wine, oak, sourness, and funk.

Tasting Notes:  Dry.  Light to medium bodied.  A balance of moderate tartness, acidity, and sourness.  However, the sourness is more at the front of the palate than a typical sour cider where the sourness hits further back.  Hints of funk and bitterness.  Tannic blackberry flavor.  Moderate to high red wine influence.  Low to moderate oak influence.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate flavor intensity.  No apple flavor.  Very low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I’m not a sour cider fan, so no surprise, I wasn’t a fan of this cider.  And thats ok…not everyone likes every cider.  I knew going into it that I needed some backup, so I had three cider friends over.  They are all sour cider lovers, especially berry sour ciders, and loved this one.  We opened a lot of ciders and this was one of the few that actually got finished.

Most Similar to:  Finnriver Barrel Berry Sour from Port Townsend WA (although less sour) and WildCraft berry ciders from Eugene OR (all their ciders have a slight sourness although most aren’t advertised as sours).

Closing Notes:   If you love sour & farmhouse-style cider, Belgian-style lambic beer, etc, and can find this special release, give it a try.  2 Towns really branched out with this one, making something that won’t be a crowd pleaser, but will be truly appreciated by those who enjoy these types of uniquely crafted ciders.

Have you tried any sour ciders?  What did you think?

Atlas Blackberry

Review of Atlas Hard Blackberry Cider.  This cider appears to be made from fermented apple juice, then blackberry, elderberry, & black currant juices are added after fermentation.

2015-08-24 16.57.39

Cider:  Hard Blackberry Cider
Cidery:  Atlas Cider Co.
Cidery Location:  Bend OR
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  22oz clear glass bottle

2015-08-24 16.56.38 2015-08-24 16.56.30

2015-08-24 16.56.54 2015-08-24 16.56.02 2015-08-24 16.55.51

Availability:  Year-round in OR, WA, & ID.

Cider Description:  Oregon has a state flag, song, flower, and this my friends is our nomination for a state cider.  A deep hue of purple fills the glass as we took zero short-cuts with this fine blend of blackberries and elderberries.  The tartness of the blackberries is rounded out by the complex characteristics of the elderberries.  Filled with tannins this cider leaves a delightful fry and rich finish.  Cheers to NW berries.

Cidery Description:  ATLAS Cider Co. produces authentic hard cider fermented from 100% fresh pressed fruit from our region. Partnering with Northwest farmers to source our fruit has been a priority of ours from the beginning. Our ciders start with a base of NW varieties that are pressed to achieve a balance of sweetness, tartness, and dryness. We forge our ciders in the heart of the NW in Bend, OR.  Fermented from 100% fresh pressed fruit.  All fruit from our local OR/WA region.  No use of anything artificial or colorings.  Balanced with just a touch of sweetness.  Naturally Gluten free.  22oz bottles and kegs available.

Price:  $5.50 (usually runs $7 though)
Where Bought:  My husband picked this up for me at Albertsons.  Actually, he brought home all three Atlas varieties they had!  Apple, Apricot, and Blackberry.  I did a review of the flagship Apple variety awhile back.  Atlas also makes a fourth variety, Pomegranate-Cherry.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  It showed up in the fridge lol.

2015-08-24 16.59.24

First Impression:  Deep berry purple red.  Foam rim.  Little carbonation.  Strong berry-grape scent.

Opinion:  Semi-sweet.  Fairly tart, especially to finish.  Dan at Atlas told me the majority of the apples used in their ciders are granny smith, which I find quite interesting (they say it gives their ciders “a nice flavorful punch that are lacking in many”).  I pick up the berry notes (blackberries & elderberries), but the black currant tastes more like grape to me.  I found this cider to be quite simple and juice-like.  Thin bodied and quick finishing.  I think I would have liked more carbonation and acidity.  It was however refreshing and flavorful.

Most Similar to:  Other berry-forward ciders.  Finnriver Lavender Black Currant is a favorite of mine.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to trying their Apricot variety I already have at home; apparently it is their driest offering.  I enjoyed the Apple better than the Blackberry.  I think its awesome that Atlas uses only 100% Northwest juice and no artificial ingredients, and can still be sold at a very reasonable price point.  Plus they are family owned and operated (I give them major kudos on that one especially as family is tough enough to get along with at home sometimes!).  They have a huge almost cult-like following, especially on Facebook.  Overall Atlas Blackberry a solid berry cider but I’m not truly impressed.  However, I’ve discovered I’m not a huge fruity cider fan…I tend to like a richer bold flavor, unique, barrel aged, etc.

Check out their Vimeo site.  It currently includes three videos, including a behind the scenes look at the details to operating a cider company.

Have you tried Atlas Blackberry?  What did you think?