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

Dec 2, 2014

Le Chat Noir

Le Chat Noir - Brut Cidre de Normandie
Normandy, France
4.5% ABV.
330ml bottle, Crown Cap,
About $5.00 Mane Liquor, Ascot.*

Lightly carbonated, sweet, golden, it's got a bit of a classic cider thing going on. You could think that its sat disreputably ageing in an old barrel at the back of a barn in the French countryside, before being hand bottled. But I suspect there was more than a touch of industrial alchemy used to make it.

I think it's too sweet, with an almost cloying lingering flavour. Which is a bit of a puzzle when the maker, well known for their wines describes it as a brut style.

I'd like to think this was a well made cider, but there is something about it that just says mass produced and it doesn't work for me.

* I think thats what I paid - I've lost the receipt.

Nov 19, 2014

Mixed bag

One of these things is not like the others... actually all three are not like each other, and I reckon the only good one is the one that hasn't seen a fruit from the Rosaceae family.

Core Cider - Pith'd Sparkling Lemon
Perth, Western Australia.
4.8% ABV.
330ml bottle, Crown Cap (screw),
$4.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

Ok, so this one is odd. It's not a cider, but it is made by the people in the Perth hills that do make some really good ones. This is a sparkling lemon wine.

Slightly cloudy, with a really good lemon juice flavour. It's not as sweet as a lemonade but also not too tart. A good balance. Recommended.

Core Cider - Peace Cider - Sparkling Pear
Perth, Western Australia.
3.5% ABV.
330ml bottle, Screw Crown Cap,
$4.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

A pear cider with a genuinely good pear flavour. It's alcoholic sparkling pear juice, with no fuss and no concentrates.

Not much to it, but if you like the sweeter styles, this one is more refreshing than most.

Somersby - Pear Cider
Bottled in Victoria*, made in Denmark.
4.5% ABV.
330ml bottle, Screw Crown Cap,
$3.50 Mane Liquor, Ascot.

Carlsberg returns with another fake cider - this time allegedly made with pears.

Like their apple concentrate offering I reviewed here, this is an overly sweet, artificial pear-drop flavoured beverage. There is a hint of dried apple, a touch of acidity, but otherwise it tastes quite artificial, much like their apple version.

Not worth the $3.50 asking price. Avoid.

Nov 11, 2014

Mini Book Review: Feasting With The Ancestors

Ugh. I sure can pick them. Oswald Rivera's Feasting With The Ancestors is a book that in my humble opinion should have been left with the ancestors.

The concept is not a bad one. Write a series of well-researched essays on the evolution of cooking over the last 3000 or so years. Chapter it by culture from oldest to newest, then put together some recipes recreated as closely as possible to the originals - using modern ingredients where necessary - and smash it out. Sounds good. 

My problems with this book are twofold. Firstly, Rivera has an annoying habit of using colloquialisms in his writing. Nothing says professional editing quite like the use of the word "dude" when describing Roman nobles. 

The second is with the fast and loose adaptation of recipes, or as Rivera puts it, "I find that in transcribing the recipes, good old horse sense is all that is needed, and constant experimentation". 

Sorry, Oswald. If you are basing recipes on past experience and experimenting, you are not transcribing - you are making things up... Which then leads me to suspecting that the research performed for this book was more meta-analysis than primary reading. For example, it probably isn't a good thing to tell your vegan readers that the birds nests in birds' nest soup are made from seaweed, when in reality they are made entirely from saliva. Something that has been well documented since the 1830s.

So in short, it's just awful. Avoid. 3/10