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?

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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?

Summer Cider Day 2016 in Port Townsend WA – Tasting Notes

This is Part 2/2 on Summer Cider Day 2016 in Port Townsend Washington, which includes tasting notes on the ciders I tried.  See HERE for Part 1/2, covering the event itself.

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Bull Run Pear Ice Wine, 12% – This is a 9% residual sugar ice perry, made from Hood River Oregon Bosc and Anjou pears, similar to how ice cider or ice (grape) wine is made (using the natural cold to concentrate the sweetness & flavor of the fruit).  Semi-sweet to sweet (less sweet than a typical ice cider oddly enough, despite perries usually being sweeter than ciders as pears have non-fermentable sugars).  Moderate to full bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  I found this unique, like a complex pear syrup, with a well-hidden ABV.  In addition to all the pear flavor, there were some honey, citrus, and melon notes.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate pear flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.

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Nashi Orchards Barrel Fermented Cider, 6.9% – This is a cider made from primarily Winesap apples with some French & English bittersweets (from the WSU Mt. Vernon Cider Research Center), aged in neutral French oak barrels.  Dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Definite Winesap apple flavor with hints of richness from the bittersweet apples.  Notes of oak (low) and honey.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  Overall this is quite subtle, similar to their other products I’ve tried.  I would love to see them do something made from only bittersweet apples and barrel aged, as those are my favorites, but alas, good cider apples are hard to come by / expensive, so its not done much here in the U.S. (which is why I am also a big fan of English & French imports).

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Nashi Orchards Island Harvest Perry, 6.7% – This perry is from 90% Asian pears (Shinsseiki and perry pears) and 10% seedling pears foraged on Vashon island.  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate to high acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  Notes of pear, lemon, lime, and mineral.  Moderate sessionability.  Low pear flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.  I found it to be very light; I think this would be great to pair with food.  It was also very subtle.

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New West Cidery – I thought I’d add a little about this cidery, as I hadn’t even heard of them before this event (their cider isn’t distributed to Seattle).  They are part of Sasquatch Brewing in Portland Oregon, which was founded in 2011.  They started making cider a few years ago under the New West name.  They are opening a separate cidery in Northwest Portland in a couple months which will have 90 barrel fermenters (which is very large capacity considering a standard keg holds half a barrel).  At the brewery’s tap room in Portland they currently offer 12 cider taps (including guest taps).

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New West Black & Blue, 6.8% – Lovely deep berry hue.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low carbonation.  Low tartness and acidity.  Very mild pure berry flavor, 50-50 blackberry and blueberry.  Quick finish.  No apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  I like a more flavorful cider, so I didn’t really care for this.

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New West Señor Cider, 6.8% – Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of several different hot peppers and a hint of citrus & honey.  Moderate heat, mostly at the end of the sip, which lingers with a long finish.  Low apple flavor, sessionability, flavor intensity, and complexity.  I don’t like spicy ciders, so I didn’t like this at all.  I think a spicy cider works better when the spice level is low, it has higher residual sugar, and there is some flavor balance (like significant honey notes).  Enough people must like these though, as cideries keep making them (for example – the Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA actually has a tap line dedicated to a rotating selection of spicy Schilling ciders).

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Rambling Route Pear, 6.9% – This is the second cider in Tieton’s Rambling Route line, their Apple variety with Bartlett pear juice added.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Nearly still.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Moderate apple flavor.  Very light pear flavor.  High sessionability.  Low flavor intensity and complexity.  I think I prefer their Apple variety, although I’m not really a fan of either.  I think Tieton’s regular line of ciders is superior (although that is likely to be expected from the price point), especially the recent draft-only Bourbon Peach (my tasting notes here).

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Snowdrift Cornice, 7.3% – I’ve tried this before (see here), but it was awhile back, and I was curious how this year’s version turned out.  This is their barrel aged cider made from cider apple varieties.  Smells mildly oaky.  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Notes of oak, smoke, and honey.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Low flavor intensity.  I found this vintage to be more approachable than their previous one, but I really enjoyed both.

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Spire Mountain Dark & Dry, Jack Daniels Barrel Aged, 5.0% – This is a special version of their typical Dark & Dry cider which was aged in Jack Daniel whiskey barrels for 8 months.  Smells strongly of whiskey, plus some oak and brown sugar.  Semi-dry to dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate to high bitterness.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of brown sugar, molasses, whiskey, vanilla, and coffee.  Long bitter finish.  High spirit influence.  Low barrel influence.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.  Its crazy how the barrel aging changed this cider from a fairly simple sweet cider to a bitter complex dry cider!  I think they are on to something with barrel aging this cider, but it was aged too long for my liking (something I thought I’d never say…I always say I wish a cider was aged longer!), as it was too intensely bitter.

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Spire Mountain Dry Hop Apple, 5.0% – This is their Red Apple cider with Citra hops, their new Summer Seasonal.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied, slightly syrupy.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  Subtle hops flavor, more herbaceous than citrusy, which is unusual for a Citra hopped cider.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  I thought this was pretty decent for a commercial cider; I liked how the hops flavor wasn’t overwhelming, although I think I like a more citrus-forward hopped cider.

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Wandering Aengus Wanderlust, 6.9% – This was their first cider variety they made 12 years ago.  Its an off-dry (0.5% residual sugar) English-style cider made from primarily heirloom sharp plus some bittersweet apples.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low bitterness.  Low tannins.  Notes of bittersweet apples, oak, and mineral.  Sharp flavor with hints of richness.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate to high apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability, complexity, and flavor intensity.  This time around I enjoyed it better than when I tried it awhile back; either this batch had less bitterness than previously and/or I’m not as sensitive to it anymore.

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Whitewood Gibb’s Farm, 6.7% – They nicknamed this limited release cider a “Farmer’s Reserve”.  It was made from a large number of varieties of apples only from Grant Gibbs’ farm outside of Leavenworth WA.  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Low carbonation.  Medium bodied with a nice texture, slightly syrupy.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness and tannins.  Notes of sharp apples, honey, and lemon.  Moderate to long slightly boozy finish.  Moderate to strong apple flavor.  Moderate sessionability and flavor intensity.  Low to moderate complexity.  I enjoyed it.

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Whitewood Newtown Pippin, 6.9% – This is a Newtown Pippin apple single varietal, part of their Old Fangled Series, made from 2016 harvest apples from Hood River Oregon.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied, with a nice frothy texture.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  Quick finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  Moderate sessionability.  I found this to be very mild, which is characteristic of Newtown Pippins, but not something I prefer.

I didn’t taste ciders from every cidery there (as I had tried the remainder of the lineup), but here are photos of the other booths.

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<Finnriver>

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<Eaglemount>

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<I agree with this sentiment!>

Summer Cider Day 2016 in Port Townsend WA – The Event

Last weekend I attended the 6th annual Summer Cider Day in Port Townsend Washington.  It was my first time at this event and my second time in Port Townsend (Northwest of Seattle; see my previous 4 posts here on the Olympic Peninsula Cider Route with Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver).  I’ll have two posts; this first one covers the event and a second will cover tasting notes on the ciders I tried (post 2/2 now up – see HERE).  Check out my previous post here, which was a preview of the Summer Cider Day event.

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<the event program cover>

I took the Edmonds-Kingston ferry fairly early (note there is a Port Townsend ferry, but the route is from Coupville) to ensure I got there before 11am, when the VIP tasting started (an hour earlier than the noon-5pm event).  VIP is definitely the way to go by the way (for an extra $10 per ticket) as I got a chance to try a number of ciders, chat up the cidermakers pouring them, and take photos of the venue and lovely table setups before it got too busy.  I actually did nearly all my cider tasting in that hour.  By arriving early I also had a chance to get a great parking spot, walk around town, grab some coffee, etc.

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The Northwest Maritime Center was a great venue for this small ish cider festival.  It was primarily indoors (which is rare for a summer tasting event, but I appreciated it as sun + cider isn’t the best combo), except for food and seating on the deck (with an amazing waterfront view).

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It was also a unique event in that it was family-friendly (although there wasn’t really anything for kids to do, just a corner set up with some coloring books).

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Admission included a tasting glass and 8 drink tickets.

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The venue on the second floor of the building was beautiful, with high ceilings.  Each cidery had a booth to pour their ciders (a mix of draft and bottle pours).  Many had the actual cidermakers pouring the cider, but if not, it was someone very familiar with it (vs. some events which have volunteers pour cider).

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They had catering on the deck from Siren’s Pub, a restaurant down the street.  The menu was cider-themed and had suggested cider pairings.  I had a shrimp skewer with rice and mango salsa that was pretty good, although I imagine it would have better if it didn’t get cold right away since it was a bit cool & windy outside.  The outdoor seating was nice though (especially as there was no indoor seating, only stand up tables).

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They also had a bottle shop, where many of the ciders were available for purchase.

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The attending cideries were announced in advance, but not the ciders they were pouring.  Here is the final lineup:

2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis OR) Outcider, Bade Apple, Made Marion
Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA) Pirate’s Plank, Spark!, ApoCalypso
Bull Run Cider (Forest Grove OR) Dry Hop, Pear Wine, Bramble Berry
Eaglemount Wine & Cider (Port Townsend WA) Ginger, Rhubarb, Cyser
Finnriver Farm & Cidery (Chimmacum WA) Chimacum Kriek, Sidra, Oak & Apple
Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA) Heirloom Series Gravenstein, Turncoat Dry Hopped New World, Stonewall Barrel-Aged
Locust Cider (Woodinville WA) Thai Ginger, Apricot, Wabi Sabi
Nashi Orchards (Vashon WA) Chojuro Perry, Island Harvest Perry, Barrel Fermented Cider
New West Cider (Portland OR) Black & Blue, Señor Cider
Schilling Cider (Auburn WA) Ascender Ginger, Grapefruit & Chill, Bailout Lemongrass Cider
added: Seattle Cider (Seattle WA) Berry, Semi Sweet, Dry
Snowdrift Cider Co. (East Wenatchee WA)
Spire Mountain Ciders (Olympia WA) Crisp & Dry, Dark & Dry, Dry Hopped Apple
Pear UP , formerly NV Cider (Wenatchee WA) Watermelon Pear, Pear Essentials, and Ginger Pear
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (Portland OR) The Passion, ¡Tepache!, Revival
Tieton Cider Works (Yakima WA) Rambling Route Pear, Apricot, Tieton
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks (Salem OR) Anthem Cherry, Golden Russet, Wanderlust
Whitewood Cider (Olympia WA) Gibb’s Darm, Newtown Pippin, Old Fangled Heirloom
Woodbox Cider (Portland OR)

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<a neat banner they had on the Cider Making Process>

Next up in the Seattle area is Washington Cider Week (Sept 8-18), including the epic Cider Summit (Sept 9 & 10).

Preview of Summer Cider Day 2016 (Saturday August 6th in Port Townsend WA)

There is an awesome sounding cider tasting event coming up in Port Townsend Washington at the Northwest Maritime Center on Saturday August 6th 2016, the 6th annual Summer Cider Day.  Port Townsend is a beautiful seaside town West of the Seattle area.  I haven’t been to this event before, but I want to make the trek this year.  The quickest route involves a ferry for those in Seattle and Northward, but is within a couple hours of the greater Seattle area.  Port Townsend is home to the Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver cideries (see my trip report from earlier this year here).

summer cider day

Summer Cider Day is from noon to 5pm, and they are expecting at least 20 cideries and 70 ciders.  The cidermakers themselves typically pour the cider at this event, and I’ve heard it isn’t as crowded as some others (such as Cider Summit), so there should be some great opportunities for schmoozing.  Another plus is its indoors (although our summers aren’t overly warm, a hot day isn’t exactly conducive for partaking in lots of cider!).

Current List of Cidermakers:
2 Towns Ciderhouse (Corvallis OR)
Alpenfire Cider (Port Townsend WA)
Bull Run Cider (Forest Grove OR)
Eaglemount Wine & Cider (Port Townsend WA)
Finnriver Farm & Cidery (Chimmacum WA)
Liberty Ciderworks (Spokane WA)
Locust Cider (Woodinville WA)
Nashi Orchards (Vashon WA)
New West Cider (Portland OR)
Schilling Cider (Auburn WA)
Snowdrift Cider Co. (East Wenatchee WA)
Spire Mountain Ciders (Olympia WA)
Pear UP , formerly NV Cider (Wenatchee WA)
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (Portland OR)
Tieton Cider Works (Yakima WA)
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks (Salem OR)
Whitewood Cider (Olympia WA)
Woodbox Cider (Portland OR)

Of those, New West Cider and Woodbox Cider (both in Portland Oregon) are both new to me / not available in the Seattle area.

Tickets are on sale online (here) for $25 (goes up to $30 at the door), and includes admission, a tasting glass, and 8 tasting tokens.  There are also VIP tickets available for $35 which will get you in an hour early, at 11am.  Its a family-friendly but dog-free event, and includes a bottle shop, food for purchase, and live music.  It is hosted by the Northwest Cider Association.

Stay tuned for my trip report and tasting notes!

Alpenfire Smoke Barrel Aged Cider

Review of Alpenfire Cider’s Smoke Barrel Aged Cider.  See my past reviews of their ciders here.  I tried this cider before and loved it, but hadn’t been able to find it for awhile (it hasn’t been released for awhile and the next batch is still barrel aging…see my post here), so I was excited to stumble across some again.

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Cider:  Smoke
Cidery:  Alpenfire Cider
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  16.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottle
Style:  American craft port-style triple barrel fermented cider made from cider apples

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Availability:  Limited (and hasn’t been released in awhile), and only in Western Washington

Cider Description:  Smoke, our smoky-oaky after dinner tipple style cider has been triple fermented in whiskey and mead barrels.  It starts with Kingston Black, Dabinett and Vilberie apples for a very tannic base.  Aging in charred oak concentrates all the best features of each apple variety. 

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:  $17
Where Bought:  Special Brews
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, although I’ve tried it before.  I was surprised to see they had a couple cases of this on the shelf, consider how long its been since its release, and that no other shops have any left (including at the Alpenfire Cidery).

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First Impression:  Copper light orange amber hue.  No carbonation.  Smells rich & strong, of oak, peat, spice, orange, bourbon, scotch, honey, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and baked apples.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Still.  Medium to full bodied.  Low acidity, tartness, and tannins.  A hint of bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of oak, peat, spice, orange, bourbon, scotch, honey, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, and baked apples, with a focus on orange and spice (not as much spoke & peat as I remembered).  Long warming finish.  Moderate apple influence.  Moderate barrel influence.  High spirit influence.  Very low sessionability.

My Opinion:  Amazing!  This one is definitely one of my all time favorite ciders, and my favorite Alpenfire cider.  Its a great after dinner sipping cider, and one bottle lasted me awhile as a few ounces is plenty (and it keeps rather well as it isn’t carbonated).  This cider is highly complex, rich, very smooth, and tastes a lower ABV than it is.  I enjoyed this at a range of temperatures, from just out of the fridge to room temperature, although I think I tended towards colder.  I saw another post that ice could be used, and I think for a higher ABV flavorful beverage that isn’t out of the question (I’ve done so for Pommeau).

Most Similar to:   Not much else.  Maybe Sea Cider Prohibition / Rumrunner?  That is another high ABV complex (rum) barrel aged sipping cider, but even though its higher ABV, I’d say the flavor is a bit more harsh and in your face (its also drier though).  Another is Liberty Ciderworks Manchurian Crabapple.  It wasn’t barrel aged, but is a high ABV port-style single varietal with a lot of complexity.  This is also kinda similar to Pommeau with its complexity and high ABV.

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I bought two bottles of this one, as I still have another to tide me over until its next release.  This is definitely my kind of cider, having all the aspects I enjoy most–local, craft, higher ABV, sweeter, complex, flavorful, rich, made from bittersweet cider apples, and barrel aged.

Have you tried Alpenfire Smoke?  What did you think?