Sep 9, 2016

Big, Bright and Very Red.

Big Shed Brewing Co "Cherry Popper"
South Australia.
8.5% ABV
330ml Crown cap.

Big Shed Brewing Co "Cherry Popper". A bit of a dodgy name for any drink, let alone cider, which has held for many years a reputation for wild teen parties and bad hangovers.

Normally I dislike fruit ciders with a passion. Too often with fruit ciders and beers, the brewer goes for the sharp lambic style, or in the case of many European brands, it's all about adding more sugar. Thankfully this one is neither.

A brilliant rose colour, the cider has a very clear cherry juice fragrance and just a hint of mushroom. The carbonation is fairly ordinary, and there is no head to speak of. While it does have a dangerous ABV, there really is nothing that makes this drink challenging. I think it's a bit sterile. A bit safe. 

There is a good balanced acidity to it, but I cannot say it authentically tastes like cherry juice. Cherries and apples have a bit of crossover on flavour and that makes this drink a little more clever. It's a damn near seamless marriage of both fruit. Besides a good flavour there is not much else. It's on the dry side of draught with no length.

A tasty domestic session cider. I'd rate it as the best cherry cider I've had and definitely up towards the top on fruit ciders.


Galafrey Mount Barker Rhine Riesling 2002

One from the vaults. A real classic.

Price paid - unknown, purchased through the Galafray cellar door 4-5 years ago on a whim.

Honeycomb and caramel notes predominated,but was not corked. The cork itself was in remarkable condition given that the wine had spent a lot of time upright. It was just starting to powder and crumbled just as it was extracted.

Honey amber, showing signs of oxidation, yet it still had good acid, and now off flavours. Overall the wine is now burnt lime peel and botrytis.The fresh lemon and lime had all but left.

With more careful storage it could have been better. Unfortunately I think this bottle was very much at the end of it's life. It probably should have been opened two years ago in hindsight.

Jul 25, 2016

Traditional Cider

Knight's Malvern Gold Medium Reserve
6.0% ABV
500ml bottle. Stelvin cap.
$10.00 Mane Liquor Ascot

Back in 2011 I obtained this reserve cider from Knight's. This month we found another one - which was a little different and a lot better.

Uncarbonated, a deep amber gold, this is pretty much the classic English cider. Its got a bit of old wood and wet fruit that you would expect from a barrel aged cider, but the finish was surprisingly complex. A medium dry but fruity beverage with a really pleasant acidity and hint of bitterness.

Yarlington Mill (bittersweet), and Dabinett (bittersweet) apples are commonly used, but we don't often see the old varieties like Kingson Black (bittersharp) and Harry Master's Jersey (bittersweet) in ciders reaching our shores.

I'd love to try this gently warmed and spiced. A really good example of traditional cider.

May 4, 2016

Tasmanian Cider Part 1

Tasmania is one of the rare places in Australia where growers do have access to actual cider apples and pears. But do they all use them? Here's the first two.

Spreyton Bitter Cider
8.0% ABV
330ml bottle, crown seal.
$5.50 Mane Liquor Ascot

I wasn't sure what to think with this one. Fuji apples don't make for a good cider, and adding hops to cider in the past has resulted in some - lets say - experimental, drinks. 

Spreyton's Bitter is a unusual drink. It's unfiltered, so unless you like your cider old-school chunky, don't disturb the bottle. The brewer's soft touch with the hops has added a resinous note but not much else. It's a curious mix that attempts to emulate the bitter that is normally present if you use cider apples and a yeasty flavour.

Ultimately the attempt fails because of the absolutely huge 8% alcohol - in dry ciders, that's a very noticeable and distracting feature. The fruit can't match it, there is no sugar to hide it and in this one not enough hops to bitter things up. Shame about that.

Worth trying, but I wouldn't re-buy.

Spreyton Vintage 2015 Cider
7.5% ABV
330ml bottle, crown seal.
$6.00 Mane Liquor Ascot

Another unfiltered light cider with a high ABV, I felt that this had some good traditional cider apple flavours, but was overall a bit wishy-washy. 

Naturally carbonated, the soft bead was a nice change from all the artificially carbonated ciders on the market. It didn't taste aged, so I'm slightly disappointed. I expected more funk from the "vintage" label.

Overall I thought it was out of balance due to the high alcohol percentage, but if you like dry traditional ciders, it's one to try.

Mar 14, 2016

Oops, I may have broken this one...

Batlow OPA Oaked Pear and Apple Cider
NSW, Australia
4.8% ABV
500ml crown cap
$8.00 Mane Liquor Ascot

I've not felt like a cider for some months and a review of this one got pushed back, and back, and back. This bottle is the result of that and languished at the back of the refrigerator for a full 9 months.

I have no idea if Mane still stocks it, but you will undoubtedly find it or it's pure apple cousin in the larger, more domestic liquor stores.

As an experiment in storage, the OPA failed miserably. Significant sedimentation had occurred, leaving a pale, soda heavy drink with little palate or body - until I poured the second glass, where upon it looked like someone had cleaned a paintbrush in it.

The flavour was reminiscent or Westons and several other domestic English brands, but I wouldn't guarantee that what I had will be the same as a fresh bottle.

If the price is right, try it. It might be ok.

Jan 8, 2016

Hard Ciders

Mercury Hard Cider
6.9% ABV
375ml can
$3.50 IGA Rivervale

Mercury appears to be tying to reinvent itself with an inexpensive, sweet, carbonated alcoholic apple juice. 

Not much to add really other than you could make your own by mixing generic apple juice with soda and a neutral spirit to taste.  Very disappointed.

K Cider - Shepton Mallet Cider Mill.
Shepton Mallet, UK
8.4% ABV
330ml can
$?? IGA Rivervale

To the casual observer, the unassuming black can suggests you are buying the "black and gold" equivalent in cider, but you would be wrong.

Deep gold, with a proper cider apple bouquet, a low carbonation, and a bloody large kick of alcohol.

It's not the worlds greatest cider, but it is honest. Any cider in a tiny can that puts you on the 0.05 limit to drive is one to be respected.

Nov 14, 2015

Mini Book Review: Home Cheese Making

I have no idea where this book came from. One day it was there on the bookcase and I still have no idea who bought it. I suspect it was acquired from the same Melbourne bookshop as the subject of my last mini review - it has the same kind of hippie feel.

Pure and simple, cheese making is chemistry and this is a very simplified chemistry book. 

It turns out that every cheese ever made is the same. Oh there are minor tweaks. A couple of degrees temperature here, a few more minutes there, but this results in some serious repetition when you start documenting how to make 75 different cheese.

Not a terrible book, but dull. You will need some serious equipment and specialised ingredients to follow all but the simplest recipes in here .

An informative starter.   6/10