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.

Jun 27, 2015

The Bottom of The Barrel

Rekorderlig Dry Apple Cider
5.0% ABV.
330ml screw-top cap.
$5.00 First Choice Liquor Midland.

I went in hoping that this might have some character or something - anything that might offer redemption for Swedish cider from the sugary horrors of Rekorderlig's usual offering. 

I was, perhaps unsurprisingly disappointed.

The "dry" description is both accurate and totally inadequate. While Rekorderlig have managed to cut the sugar content and seemingly brew the beverage drier, it's still slightly alcoholic sugar water. 

I had cordial in kindergarten with more character. Avoid.

May 31, 2015

As the sun goes down - Galafray Reserve Chardonnay 2004

Do wine and cars go together? My car is two years younger than this bottle from the museum, but sadly a lot less well maintained.

Galafrey Reserve Chardonnay 2004
Mount Barker, WA
14.0% ABV
750ml, under Cork

Bright gold, hints of oak and old leather, a touch maderised perhaps? But not in a bad way.

This was a bottle abused with inconsistent cellaring, and which desperately needed to be drunk. Yet the wine was still crisp, with a strong palate and bright peachy fruit.

Very complex. Remarkable. 

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.