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: Dungeness, Spark, Smoke, ApoCalypso, Ember, Simple Cider, Calypso, Pirate’s Plank, Glow, Cinders, Shrub, Spiced Tonic Shrub, and Heirloom Dry.
Cider: Flame (2011 vintage)
Cidery Location: Port Townsend WA
How Supplied: 750ml corked & caged champagne bottles
Style: Organic American artisinal champagne-style cider
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.
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.
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.
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 Spark, ApoCalypso, Simple Cider, Calypso, Glow, and Heirloom Dry).
Have you tried Alpenfire Flame? What did you think?