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 

Aug 8, 2015

Two ciders walk into a Malaysian restaurant...

Another mixed bag, but this time I thought I would throw caution to the wind and take them to one of my favourite cheap eats restaurants. They were a pleasant surprise as far as ciders go, even though they really didn't play all that well with the food.

Golden Axe Cider
Victoria, Australia
5.2% ABV
330ml screw top crown
$6.00 Mane Liquor Ascot

Hiding behind a cheesy label, this colourless cider is a well  camouflaged middleweight. The first hint of what's coming is the funky, old socks nose and the punchy alcohol content.

Golden Axe is a draught cider with generic cider flavour, propped up with solid acidity and a fair balance. I would normally have given this one a miss just on the label, but it's better than most Australian ciders.

Jachmann Pink Lady Small Batch Cider
McLaren Vale, South Australia.
5.0% ABV
500ml crown cap.
$7.99 Dan Murphy's Midland

Another surprising cider, this time from South Australia. Jachmann is a robust golden colour with a tiny champagne bead and it smells like sweet apples.

The taste though is unlike most Western Australian ciders made with Pink Lady apples. Flavour wise, I found it well balanced between sweet and sour, with a floral note that normally gets lost by most makers

It's not juice dressed up in a glass bottle and some fizz.

If you like your cider on the sweeter side of draught, it's one to look for.

Jul 7, 2015

Thats Not All Apples...

My new software arrived this week so having a bit of a noodle with it to touch up some bad photos. Which neatly brings me to the weird drink of the week...

Mash Brewing - Granny's Apples
Victoria, Australia.
2.8% ABV
500ml Crown cap, under wax.
$12.99 Mane Liquor Ascot

Smells like an funky oak aged Australian cider. Looks like an Australian cider. Tastes a lot like some of the cheaper Australian ciders. Except it's not cider. It's a sour apple Berliner Weisse - otherwise known as a sour wheat beer - with apple juice and elderflower in it.

There's not much complexity happening here. On tasting blind, you might think it was a weak cider, but the back palate of malt and slight cheesy odour give it away as something else.

I'm undecided whether I like it, I think because it falls too in between being a wheat beer and a crisp dry cider. It costs too much for either type of drink, and it's just not good at pretending to be either.