Mar 21, 2015

Heritage Cider

Maggie Beer Heritage Apple Cider
Adelaide Hills, SA
5.0% ABV
500ml Crown cap
$7.90 Dan Murphy's Midland

Proof that everyone is getting involved with the cider making craze, Maggie Beer has jumped on board with her Heritage Apple Cider brand.

There is no information on the bottle regarding what kinds of heritage apples were used, but there was a mention that Granny Smith was (predominately) the source of the juice. I suspect its some kind of marketing rather than the use of heritage varieties, which is really disappointing.

Maggie has come up with a well balanced dry style cider with good acidity and a flavour profile not disimilar to the English Aspells brand. BUT Maggie's cider is missing an artisanal quality that I hoped might have been there. Just something to say it's not industrially fermented apple juice.

Maggie Beer Heritage Pear Cider
Adelaide Hills, SA
5.0% ABV
500ml Crown cap
$6.90 Dan Murphy's Midland

This was the best of the pair (pun intended).

Beurre Bosc, Red Sensation and Duchess are all table varieties that one would not normally think of using in a pear cider. Years of breeding made these fruit good for the table, or long transport, and removed the characters that make the fruit good for cider. 

Somehow Maggie Beer has found acidity and structure in these fruit and presents us with a really refreshing drink. It's the cheddar cheese of ciders in that it's terribly quaffable, but a very commercial mass produced kind of drink.

I would buy it again though.

Feb 23, 2015

Apfelwin: Ah those crazy Germans...

Not easy to find in Australia, but I have been keeping an eye open after watching this video.

I finally found some and... er may have spent quite a bit of cash acquiring it. Oh, my liver...

Weidmann & Groh "Speierling" 2010
Friedberg, Germany
6.0% ABV.
1L Screw Cap,
$25 International Beer Shop, Leederville

Apfelwein is loosely described as a sour, still cider produced mostly in the Frankfurt region. It's got a long history and quite a culture built around it, but Speierling though is a bit special. It incorporates fruit from The Service Tree - not something easy to find - and the fruits are not normally thought of as edible.

So I'm rather happy to have gotten my hands on this specific bottle - it is, from what I understand, unusual to see outside Europe.

This is a really complex wine with a lot going on. Quite sour, but not unpleasant. Described as being halbtrocken, it's been made with a fairly large tannin content, and survived ageing well. At 5 years of age, it's also one of the oldest ciders I've tried and doing well.

A rustic deep golden yellow, there is a hint of barrel ageing, although I couldn't say whether this was entirely the fruit character or whether it was aged in old oak. There is something distinctive added by the Service Tree fruit. A very light residual carbonation present seems to lift everything as well - this is a cider for food pairing.

Compared with others I've reviewed this is up there with the best. Recommended.

Feb 4, 2015

I was cleaning my fridge out when...

Old Coast Road Brewery - South Cider Apple
Mylup, Western Australia
6.5% ABV.
500ml Crown Cap,
$7.50 Mane Liquor Ascot

The colour and appearance of cloudy apple juice. I found this one to taste more than a little odd. It seems to be completely devoid of acid. Normally when I say a cider has no acid, you at least get the tart flavours typical of even the sweetest red apple. Not so with this - it's carbonated, smells like your basic apple cider - and well, tastes odd.

Even more worrisome (and I did consider that I could just be going mad), but there is also a peculiar back of the palate chemical flavour that you would normally associate with soft drink that contains Aspartame. Kind of like the unnatural Coke Zero after-taste.

There is no mention of it on the bottle though, so I forced Ondine to try some. The reaction was "why does it taste like burnt plastic"?

On that, I'm going to sum up with "skip this one".

Jan 4, 2015

Not Really A Cider Review

Bundaberg Apple Cider
Bundaberg, Queensland
~0% ABV.
375ml bottle,  Pull Cap,
Found in just about any Deli.

Just for completeness sake, a soft cider. aka. Soft Drink.

Apparently Bundaberg brews the apple juice for two days... and as there is no alcohol, someone is being clever with their process. In the presence of oxygen yeast doesn't produce alcohol. Unfortunately without the protection of alcohol the feed is open to all sorts of contamination. This in turn requires the chemist to use pasteurisation or chemicals to control things - so this is pure industrial alchemy and not classic fermentation.

Surprisingly the resulting drink that isn't far off cider in taste. Just a bit too sweet, and the carbonation is typical of soft drink.

So if you can't take alcohol and want a fizzy apple juice with a hint of yeast. This is not terrible.

Dec 25, 2014

A Hard Cider Is Good To Find.

Julian Hard Cider
Julian, California, USA
6.99% ABV.
650ml bottle,  Crown Cap,
~$17.00 Mane Liquor, Ascot *

More American cider.

Julian Hard Cider outwardly appears pale and and domestic, but it's totally the opposite of the cider made from Woodchucks

Character? It tastes like a cider homebrew. Dry, sharp, and a bit feral it's also properly hard with the 7% ABV. There is a lot to like about this one if you want your ciders big and dry.

What I don't like was the ridiculous price.

* Once again I misplaced the receipt, but I do remember that it was in this price range.

Dec 13, 2014

Too Much Elk?

Have I found the classic flavour of Swedish cider? Really, I hope not.

Two Elk Traditional Swedish Cider
4.5% ABV.
500ml bottle, Crown Cap,
$5.00 First Choice Liquor Midland.

Two Elk is an almost colourless beverage with a disturbing vinegar nose; it leaves an odd chemical aftertaste.

It's quite common to add malic acid to adjust the acidity in wines and cider - and it imparts a bit of a sour apple flavour. I have a horrible feeling that this brewer has used apple cider vinegar instead. I'm pretty sure that this bottle was not off, so these flavours were intentional.

The result is an awful, sweet/sour cider. It's not the "Crisp, Clean and Slightly Sweet" described on the label - I can see that I am going to have to invest in some pH paper for some of these drinks. The marketing guys have a totally different idea of "truth in labelling".

While I wouldn't recommend this, it's good to see that not all Swedish cider is like Rekorderlig and Kopparberg.

Dec 8, 2014

Mini Book Review: Make Your Own Beer and Cider
I acquired this one in a New Age food shop in the back streets of Fitzroy. At the time I was thinking Paul Peacock's Make Your Own Beer and Cider was going to be a helpful little book, as I've been experimenting with home brew. 

Mostly it is a good starter. Mostly.

For example: Its first two chapters are well laid out and written well for the novice brewer. They are also factually accurate with a view to the target audience's knowledge level, and the glossary appears to have had some research put into it. The book's scope is also rather broad, and covers almost every type of beer. It also gives a good passing nod to root beers, cider and wine making. On the face of it, the recipes probably would all work.

But it falls down about halfway through. Just beyond the point where you would stop skim reading in the shop, the editor appears to have given up and said "ship it!"

The methods in the recipes start to become inconsistent. Despite the beer recipes being basically the same (just varying quantities or flavourings), there are a few cases where steps have been obviously left out. The author also starts to use erroneously the terms "yeast" and "bacteria" interchangeably. This is something that annoys me no end!

So there are a few useful tips and tricks and explanations, but if you do try following the recipes, do switch your brain on and don't do so blindly.

It's ok. 6/10