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.
Cidery Location: Port Townsend WA
How Supplied: 500ml bottles
Style: American craft cider from heirloom apples, with local blackberries, aged for 2 months in toasted oak rum barrels
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.
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.
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?