Alpenfire Traditional Cuvée

Review of Alpenfire Traditional Cuvée.  It is my first time trying this variety, but I have had most of their lineup (see here).

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Cider: Traditional Cuvée
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American orchard-based cider from heirloom & cider apple varieties, dry

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Availability:  probably only through their website and in a limited number of specialty shops in WA

Cider Description:  This cider cuvée has a classic balance of traditional & heirloom apples. The cider apples are organically grown in our orchard while the heirloom apples come from two other organic growers, Lazy J Farm in Port Angeles and Heirloom Orchards in Hood River. Cider apples provide depth of flavor and a tannic sizzle while heirloom apples provide acidity and bright flavors. Cool fermentation, lengthy maturation and no filtration create complexity and rich body. Try this well rounded orchard based cider with breads & cheese, burgers, or just about everything.

Cidery Description:  We invite you to experience the distinctive flavors of our estate grown heritage ciders. Shaped by our maritime climate’s mild summers and tempered by the foggy mist rolling off of Discovery Bay, our apples maintain the qualities they’ve been treasured for by generations of cider lovers. Soft tannins, high sugars, hints of bitterness, and an incredible flavor range are the tools the apples bring us. Slow, cool fermentation, lengthy maturation, and attention to detail is the way we say thank you! Try Alpenfire Cider today and find your favorite expression of the Northwest.

Price:  $11.99
Where Bought:  Alpenfire’s online shop
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing their website when I made a large order when they were offering free shipping

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First Impression:  Medium gold hue.  Smells of dry, tart, tannic, heirloom apple with a hint of funk.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of heirloom apple juice & pomace, wood, lemon, and floral.  Moderate length tannic finish.  Moderate apple flavor, sessionability, and overall flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  It didn’t seem quite as tart/sharp as many other dry ciders, which I enjoyed, as I usually tend towards sweeter ciders, and tartness makes dry ciders taste even drier for me.

Most Similar to:  Eden Heritage Cider, Dragon’s Head Heritage, and also reminiscent of Snowdrift but not any 1 specific release

Closing Notes:  Alpenfire’s lineup is really wide-ranging in type, so there is something for everyone

Have you tried Alpenfire Traditional Cuvée?  What did you think?

Alpenfire Smoke

Review of Alpenfire’s Smoke Pommeau (cider + apple brandy), their barrel aged dessert cider.  I’ve had a previous version of this (see here), plus I’ve tried most of their lineup (see here).  I missed out on the only release that I knew of in between the previous one I tried years ago and this one, so I was excited to buy some.

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Cider:  Smoke, 2017 Harvest
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  18%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles
Style:  American craft apple brandy-fortified barrel-aged cider from Estate-grown bittersweet cider apple varieties

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Availability:  very limited, likely mostly online, plus some specialty shops in WA

Cider Description:  A barrel aged desert cider blended for those who love a rich full bodied cider and a touch of peaty smoke in their whiskey. This after dinner tipple sits as the 2nd best cider in the world on RateBeer’s best of list….Harvested in 2017 and fermented dry, referemented and aged in a rye whiskey barrel, then matured in a peated whiskey barrel, then blended with cider aged over oak chips before estate Bittersweet apple brandy is added in to bring it up to 18%.

Cidery Description:  We invite you to experience the distinctive flavors of our estate grown heritage ciders. Shaped by our maritime climate’s mild summers and tempered by the foggy mist rolling off of Discovery Bay, our apples maintain the qualities they’ve been treasured for by generations of cider lovers.  Soft tannins, high sugars, hints of bitterness, and an incredible flavor range are the tools the apples bring us.  Slow, cool fermentation, lengthy maturation, and attention to detail is the way we say thank you!  Try Alpenfire Cider today and find your favorite expression of the Northwest.

Price:  $24.99
Where Bought:  their online shop
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  originally, browsing a shop

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First Impression:  Light gold hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of rich bittersweet apple, brandy / high ABV, aged spirits (esp. scotch), and oak barrel.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Medium body.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of bittersweet cider apples, oak, smoke, scotch/whiskey, and a hint of peat.  Long warm finish.  Moderate to high complexity and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Very low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  However, I have to say that it didn’t live up to the previous version I tried, which was truly epic and one of the best things I’ve ever drank.  I imagine the years I waited to buy more of this served to further elevate my opinion on the previous version.  Never the less, as a stand-alone product, this Pommeau is superb, and I’ll happily drink the 3 bottles I bought.

Most Similar to:  a slightly lighter (less rich) and less sweet version of their previous Smoke, or a typical Pommeau with added barrel/smoke flavor

Closing Notes:  Alpenfire is a favorite of mine, and a highlight is their vast lineup, with offerings from dry to semi-sweet, fruity to rich, sessionable to not, and everything in between, all of which are exceptional.

Have you tried Alpenfire Smoke?  What did you think?

Alpenfire 3 Pommes (Apple, Pear, Quince)

Review of Alpenfire’s 3 Pommes, made with apples, pears, and quince (which is a pomme fruit most similar to pears and apples).  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their DungenessSparkSmokeApoCalypsoEmberSimple CiderCalypsoPirate’s PlankGlowCindersShrubSpiced Tonic ShrubTraditional Heirloom CiderFlameTempestFoxwhelp SV, and Rosy Pommeau.

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Cider:  3 Pommes – Apple, Pear, Quince (2016 vintage, released 2018)
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American artisan cider from estate pomme fruit (apples, pears, & quince)
Varietals:  Muscadet de Dieppe, Dolgo Crab, Vilberie, Dabinett, & Pink Pearl apples; Bosc, Hendre Huffcap, & Romanian pears; Quince

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Availability:  likely limited to Western Washington, plus online sales

Cider Description:  A blend of estate bittersweet apples, perry & wild foraged pears, and locally grown quince. The early pears, crab apples and quince are hand pressed macerated and fermented in stainless. The late season apples are pressed and fermented then blended with the early fruit for aging. Very light bottle conditioning gives this cider a petulant carbonation, just enough to tease the nose.

Cidery Description:  We invite you to experience the distinctive flavors of our estate grown ciders. Shaped by our maritime climate’s mild summers and tempered by the foggy mist rolling off of Discovery Bay, our apples maintain the qualities they’ve been treasured for by generations of cider lovers.  Soft tannins, high sugars, hints of bitterness, and an incredible flavor range are the tools the apples bring us.  Slow, cool fermentation, lengthy maturation, and attention to detail is the way we say thank you!

Price:  ~ $17.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Nearly still (very low carbonation).  Smells primarily of canned pear.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low to moderate tannins.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of pear, tropical fruit, tart heirloom apples, and honey.  Long tannic finish.  Low apple flavor, Moderate pear flavor, flavor intensity, complexity, and sessionability.

My Opinion:  I really enjoyed it, and so did the others I tasted it with.  Way unique.  Wine-like.  Fruity, but barely sweet.  However, it wasn’t sparkling like I had expected per the label, although it worked as a nearly still cider, and was probably easier to drink.

Most Similar to:  I’ve had cider with quince from Eaglemount and CiderHead, and this had some of the same tart tropical & honey notes, but the pear was more prominent.

Closing Notes:  Alpenfire is one of my favorite PNW cideries, and has a wide variety of unique selections.  My favorites however are probably their richest selections, Smoke and Ember.

Have you tried cider with quince?  What did you think?

Alpenfire Rosy Pommeau

Review of Alpenfire’s Rosy Pommeau.  This is apple brandy from bittersweet & heirloom apples + cider from Aerlie red-fleshed apples.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had their DungenessSparkSmokeApoCalypsoEmberSimple CiderCalypsoPirate’s PlankGlowCindersShrubSpiced Tonic ShrubTraditional Heirloom CiderFlameTempest, and Foxwhelp SV.

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Cider:  Rosy Pommeau, 2015 vintage, 2018 release
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  18%
How Supplied:  375ml tall bottles
Style:  American craft Pommeau from bittersweet & heirloom apple brandy + Aerlie red-fleshed apple cider, oak aged

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Availability:  limited, 58 cases released in 2018, likely only available in WA, plus online sales

Cider Description:  Alpenfire’s Rosy Pommeau, Rich, red, high acid juice from Aerlie red apples is partially fermented before halting the fermentation with the addition of the eau de vie. The eau de vie is distilled from our estate organic cider varietals and locally grown organic heirloom apples. Once blended pommeau is aged in neutral oak for 15 + months before bottling. Great as an aperitif or accompanying dessert.

Cidery Description:  We invite you to experience the distinctive flavors of our estate grown ciders. Shaped by our maritime climate’s mild summers and tempered by the foggy mist rolling off of Discovery Bay, our apples maintain the qualities they’ve been treasured for by generations of cider lovers.  Soft tannins, high sugars, hints of bitterness, and an incredible flavor range are the tools the apples bring us.   Slow, cool fermentation, lengthy maturation, and attention to detail is the way we say thank you!

Price:  $26.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Pink-orange hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of caramelized strawberry alcohol.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  Low tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of strawberry, watermelon, kiwi, and rich apple.  Long finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Very low sessionability.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, I prefer Alpenfire’s red-fleshed apple cider Glow, or a Pommeau from typical apples, not so much this combination, as for me the fruity red-fleshed apple flavor competed a bit with the rich boozy Pommeau.  My husband really enjoyed it however.

Most Similar to:  I’ve never had Pommeau from red-fleshed apples, although I’ve had several ciders from red-fleshed apples (Alpenfire Glow, Alpenfire Cinders, Snowdrift Red, Tieton Russian Red) and several Pommeaux (from 2 Towns, Wandering Aengus, EZ Orchards, Etienne Dupont, Finnriver, and Stem).

Closing Notes:  My favorite Alpenfire dessert cider is Smoke.

Have you tried Pommeau?  What did you think?

Alpenfire Foxwhelp SV

Review of Alpenfire Foxwhelp single varietal.  It is my first time trying this cider, but I’ve had most of their other ciders – DungenessSparkSmokeApoCalypsoEmberSimple CiderCalypsoPirate’s PlankGlowCindersShrubSpiced Tonic ShrubTraditional Heirloom Cider (batch 1 or 2)FlameTraditional Heirloom Cider (unknown batch)Tempest

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Cider:  Foxwhelp SV
Cidery:  Alpenfire
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft orchard-based organic cider from Foxwhelp apples

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Availability:  limited, probably only in Washington, plus online sales

Cider Description:  Our first 100% estate single varietal, produced from our organically grown Foxwhelp apples. The Foxwhelp is an English bittersharp cider apple, known for its aromatics and versatility, one of the oldest surviving cider apples still in use, originally from the Gloucestershire area. Historically a single strength cider from this apple would fetch the same price on the market in London as imported French Wine.

Cidery Description:  We invite you to experience the distinctive flavors of our estate grown ciders. Shaped by our maritime climate’s mild summers and tempered by the foggy mist rolling off of Discovery Bay, our apples maintain the qualities they’ve been treasured for by generations of cider lovers.  Soft tannins, high sugars, hints of bitterness, and an incredible flavor range are the tools the apples bring us.  Slow, cool fermentation, lengthy maturation, and attention to detail is the way we say thank you!

Price:  $16.99
Where Bought:  Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’m always game to buy anything Alpenfire, as they make some awesome ciders.  They have been coming out with all sorts of new varieties lately.

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Smells very mild, acidic and musty.  Low carbonation.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of dry.  Light bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  Low to moderate tannins.  No sourness.  Notes of acidic heirloom apple, lemon, must, nut/wood, yeast, and mineral.  Moderate length finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Moderate to high complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  I had expected more of a rich cider apple flavor, as Foxwhelp is a bittersharp, but this tasted more like an heirloom apple cider than a cider apple cider.  I enjoyed it though, as it was less acidic and more tannic than most heirloom apple ciders, so despite it being fairly dry, it wasn’t at all harsh for my tastes.  However, I still prefer a bittersweet cider apple cider, more like Alpenfire’s Ember.

Most Similar to:  This reminds me of some of Eve’s ciders, although the flavor notes were different.

Closing Notes:  I’m interested to try more of Alpenfire’s new ciders.  I already have a bottle of their Rosy Pommeau at home for example.

Have you tried a single varietal cider?  What did you think?

Finnriver Lavender Black Currant

Review of Finnriver Seasonal Botanical Series Lavender Black Currant.  I’ve had this at least a few times, but hadn’t done a full review of a bottle.  I’ve also tried the majority of their other ciders; see here.  They have new labels, which I think look really neat, more high end and sophisticated.

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Cider:  Lavender Black Currant
Cidery:  Finnriver
Cidery Location:  Chimacum WA (outside of Port Townsend)
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and draft)
Style:  American Organic craft cider from dessert apples, with black currant and lavender

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Availability:  summer seasonal, sold in AZ, CA, CO, IL, MT, NV, NY, OR, TX, WA, and WI in the U.S., plus Alberta and British Columbia Canada (plus online sales, plus they have a plain Black Currant sold year round for $1-2 less)

Cider Description:  Farmcrafted in our Chimacum barn with a select blend of Washington organic apples, organic black currant juice, organic lavender flowers from Olympic Peninsula farms (Jardin du Soleil, Wilderbee, and Purple Haze), and organic cane sugar.

Cidery Description:  At Finnriver we ferment out dreams and pour our hearts into each bottle.  Our Botanical Ciders are rooted in ancient wisdom, inspired by the seasons and crafted with a spirit of adventure!  This bottle is an invitation to discover the possibilities of the apple and the earthly abundance of the farmed fields and wild meadows of the Olympic Peninsula.  We are glad to share the beauty and county of the land!

Check out their website for more info.  They have a tasting room on their farm+orchard outside of Port Townsend WA which is a family friendly destination, with food, games, and more.  If you are heading to Port Townsend, also check out Alpenfire and Eaglemount, and I highly recommend staying at the Inn at the Resort at Port Ludlow (check out my review here, which also links to my reviews of all 3 Port Townsend area cideries).

Price:  $9.99
Where Bought:  Whole Foods
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I first tried this on draft at Schilling Cider House

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First Impression:  Deep purple-red hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells rich, fruity, and of lavender.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light bodied.  Moderate to high tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of grape, pomegranate, and blueberry (all three of which I imagine are the black currant flavor – I actually have never tried currants outside of cider so couldn’t really identify their flavor), plus hints of lavender especially on the finish.  Moderate length finish.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high flavor intensity and sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I really enjoy this one.  I usually don’t go for something this tart, but the sweetness helps balance that.  It has some complexity beyond what you’d typically see for a flavored cider from dessert apples.  Its also pretty neat that they can make Organic cider from local ingredients for only $10 / bottle (even less on draft).

Most Similar to:  their plain Black Currant cider, except with lavender

Closing Notes:  This is my favorite cider from Finnriver’s regular lineup.  My other favorites are Fire Barrel (especially the previous recipe – I wasn’t nearly as big of a fan of the latest release), Farmstead, Oak & Apple, and Honey Meadow.  Both this and their regular year-round Black Currant are even better on Nitro draft, tasting crazy smooth.

Have you tried any of Finnriver’s botanical ciders?  What did you think?

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?