Bilpin

From some mountain in New South Wales comes the Bilpin Original Cider. They have had apples in this region since some white explorer fella thought it would be a good idea to plant some apple trees, but the Bilpin Cider co decided to start making cider last year.

Clean and clear, just like my last urine drug test.

Bilpin has hit a winner straight up. This cider is clean and clear straight out of the bottle. It looks almost still, but when you drink it the tiny tiny bubbles give an electric sensations. Everyone loves bubbles!

Everyone loves Bubbles!

Everyone loves Bubbles!

Dry, balanced and still carries a sweet apple-y flavour. I could easily drink a lot of this in the sunshine. You could add ice but I don’t think my glass lasts long enough to need ice.

Made with real apples. Not of this reconstituted, imported or watered down bullshit. Bilpin is an overall winner, I am looking forward to what comes out next from these guys.

Kodiak Jack

I wonder if the Bilpin brewers have beards to match Kodiak Jack?

  • All day drinker
  • 7.3% Alcohol
  • 7.5/10

This was available from the Cider Insider, I can’t find it on the site anymore. Definitely hunt this cider down at your local independent bottle shop.

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If I was a religious drinker this would be my church.

The Brunswick Street Cider House

This place is heaven for those who enjoy a little adventure in their cider drinking. The fantastic variety of ciders are available on both tap and by the bottle. I soaked up the essence of cider like an old bar mat while I was writing a review then I got a little excited and you know get a triple review.

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If you loook around you will notice the french oak barrel on the end of the bar. This should be what you try first. Right now.. If I didn’t risk being banned I would have got my Barney on, like so.

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My ideal man. Someone might need to distract me next time the keg is being unloaded.

This little barrel contains an ever evolving delight simply called the Farmhouse cider. Yet it offers so much more. It will be sweet and sugary to a seasoned cider drinker if it is a fresh batch. The longer it sits the dryer and better it gets. The fresh batch will taste like a sweet boozie apple juice, this means that some people will drink it like apple juice, then find that their legs have stopped working a little later.  Give it a couple of weeks and you will taste something a little dryer and the beginnings of the natural carbonation. The apple flavour becomes more pronounced at this point and is how I prefer it. But you need to be dedicated and able to time when the barrel is getting low. I think this will become more difficult as the summer progresses. I’m hopeful that one day a barrel will be put aside and left to mature.

Apple juice not for kiddies

The Farmhouse Cider comes in at approximately 4.5% and is $5.50 for a pot $7.50 for a schooner. I’m going to say 7.5/10 depending on how long its lasted in the barrel. Respect this cider, if you don’t it will sneak up on you and you will be going home drunk and happy earlier than you planned.

Next came The Hills Pear Cider.

This is one of the best things to have ever come out of Adelaide. You can’t even tell that it has come from the same city as the Hilltop Hoods. Not an ounce of bogan to be found anywhere.

Dry, but still carrying a sweet pear flavour that sits right in the middle of your mouth. My initial thoughts are that it is a dry cider until midway through that first gulp a pear bomb goes off and your mouth is full of a pear sweetness that is not overbearing or super sugary. Then magically it all levels out and goes back to being dry at the end. It’s not super bubbly like some of the other pear ciders out there, just pleasantly bubbly.  Really really easy drinker, so keep track of how many you actually have. On a hot day it goes down like water. You could drink it all afternoon and into the early hours of the morning, just don’t fall off your stool trying.

This is a challenger to the  Napoleone & Co Methode Tradittonnelle Pear Cider. Maybe even a contender to take out the top spot.

The Hills Pear Cider is available a few bottle shops and BSCH. Comes in a 5% Alc/Vol, not a light weight by any means. So be careful with such an easy drinker. 8/10 perry pear delights.

Hills Cider

Something from a barrels in Adelaide, without any dead bodies in it.

Finally was our British friend. Westons Vintage Organic Apple. Hand pumped old school style.

This was the heavyweight amongst the three. It was also the point in my little adventure where I decided I needed to roll home and have a little nap.

I think I just got in a fight with a troll

Dark. So so dark. When the barman presented this to me I thought something had gone wrong and he had served me a beer instead. Nope, this is a full bodied rich cider, just smell the old boot and wet fur in it. Being a still cider it goes down like a wine. So don’t order a pint unless you are really committed to a vision blurring adventure. The taste is big, dry and a bite at the end. Think old boots, molasses and apple juice that some how has developed a yeast infection. Then somehow it turned into a drinkable cider. It is not going to be to everyones liking but it is drinkable with a bit of bravery. Try it with food. Actually, only drink it with food.

This is a cider for the true enthusiast or someone who is British and enjoys the taste of old boots. Comes in at 7.3% Alc/Vol and I was not able to read the price with my blurred vision. This Weston adventure got a 5/10. Drink it if you want to feel like you just fought a smelly troll.

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Not this smelly troll.

If you have a spare sunny arvo, drop into the Brunswick Street Cider House, surprisingly located on Brunswick street. Check out the menu to soak up all that cider. Being the fat kid I am, I recommend the Duck fat chips.


The Luckiest Duck of Them All

This is a delightful little drop. Plus it has ducks. Which are lucky.

This is no ordinary duck.

Right from the start this one is an easy drinker. Lightly carbonated with a sharp smell which suggests it is going to be quite dry. But it is surprisingly sweet. I suspect that some pears may have been snuck in somewhere during the brewing process.

It has a nice balance of flavours, a touch of sweetness and the dryness of the more traditional snobby ciders. So it’s a little British but still very drinkable. I keep getting this feeling that I’ve just bitten into a big booze infused apple when I sip/gulp this one. The balance means that you have a delightful cider for a long drinking session. I believe that last years batch sold out quite quickly at the Brunswick Street Cider House. Luckily a new batch has recently hit the streets and is available for the long hot days to come.

It’s fruity and pleasant, looks nice and clean in the glass. I’d recommend this for those nights where you plan on having more than a few drinks or are heading to a party somewhere.
Made in Melbourne from Braeburn apples. Go the Mighty Ducks!
Checkout Lucky Duck’s Facebook.
This is coming soon. www.luckyduckcider.com. I am a little excited to see what this will contain.
Weighing in at 5.4% Alc/1.4 Standard Drinks. It’s an easy drinker full of Ducky goodness. So get it into you.
Available from Brunswick St Cider House for around $9 a bottle. So make the trip and pair it with some chips cooked in duck fat for maximum duck intake.
Whatsincider gives 7.5 little ducks going over the hill. The other 2.5 are now in a Peking Duck Pancake somewhere.

Napoleone & Co Methode Tradittonnelle Pear Cider

The first thing you notice about this cider is that it is polite. It has a fancy name full of letters and hard to say words. But don’t let that intimidate you or scare you into picking something a little more generic looking.  Yes the bottle has a cloth label, I pulled it off just to check. This is a nice touch for something so special. It has this aura of being the High Tea of the cider world.

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Bravo Napoleone & CO

It smells delightful as you open it with that ever impressive popping of the cork. I always feel like I’ve won something when I open bottle with corks that pop. Another reason why this cider is a winner. (Maybe I’m just really excited as this is my first review in a while).

The pour is another joy with all this tiny bubbles which suggests this is naturally carbonated. Which kind of makes sense with the name being Tradittonelle, I think it is a French word and google couldn’t tell me much without lots of reading. Once you get the glass filled, all the bubbles mean this takes time, I suggest letting it breathe a little.
Napoleone & Co say that this cider works well with “Asparagus, pea and Yarra Valley Persian fetta frittata” but I reckon there is room for seafood on that plate, maybe some pork. MMMMmm pork…

It tasted a little dry at first, then with a little breathing, it comes to life. The pear comes through with lots of flavour and none of the sugariness of the more mainstream pear ciders. It looks cloudy due to all the bubbles. In reality the taste is very clean and balanced. Don’t rush this little one, let it sit and admire all the bubbles, you’ll be rewarded with a well balanced flavour. Even stop to inhale some of the goodness, it has that distinct scent which lets you know that it is a real cider made with love and real fruit.

If polite was a drink this would be it.  Everything about this cider is so polite that even my Nan (Hi Val) would enjoy this one.

But how many of the Grey Nomads would truly pull up and get out of their caravans to appreciate a cider? So its left up to the rest of the country to hunt this cider down and consume it in great quantities while it lasts.

I will politely golf clap the shit out of this one, Bravo Napoleone & Co, Bravo.

  • Traditional Pear Cider
  • Voted best Perry in Australia 2011
  • 5.5%
  • $20
  • 8/10

This limited batch might still be available from Smith St Cellars, so go down to see Troy and the boys and grab a few bottles for now and later.


Taste of Melbourne. Not that great a taste.

I scored some free tickets to The Taste Of Melbourne festival (Thanks Felix) and thought it was going to be some sort of gastronomical adventure. Turns out it was more of a booze fuelled wander through a historical building. This event was described as a who’s who of food in Melbourne. Sadly I didn’t get fat, I got a little pissed instead. There were more stands pushing wine than food. Plus all theses wankers from Masterchef or wankers with Masterchef written somewhere on their stand. Masterchef is not a real cooking show, it’s a joke full of 5 minute celebrities and pretentious pricks. End rant.

The positive of the entire exhibition was to see that cider from some local producers had a presence. Three real ciders and one fake.

Firstly, the fake, Rekorderlig had a large area setup at the top of the stairs with fridges crammed with their RTD branded as a cider. I didn’t even stop to taste as I had consumed enough sugar from all the chocolate stands by this point. I will say Rekorderlig ciders are fake until they prove that they use at least 80% real apples in their product. I am curious if this beverage attracts the alcopop tax which the other RTD’s do. This may upset a lot of hipsters if it suddenly went from $12 a bottle to $15 at Kent St. Check this article on uneducated thinking this is a real cider and a real (cheaper) RTD alternative.

Which brings me to some other cider news. On Thursday a special meeting took place with the formation of the Australian Cider Association. From what the guys at Rebello Wines have told me, this association is going to start to police the cider purity laws which exist in Australia. These laws are not enforced right now much to the detriment of the local cider market. For a producer to claim there product is a cider it must contain at least 80% apples. Will be interesting to see some of the mass produced ciders such as Strongbow or Five Seeds being labeled as a Cider flavoured beverage like maple flavoured syrup. But I digress and rant.

Next up on the cider list was the fine drop Napoleon, they had a small stall with their wines on show as well. They had both of their delightful ciders on tap. I had a quick chat with a couple of the guys there and was informed that their bottle conditioned cloudy cider had just recently won at the Australian cider awards. Only problem is that it is produced in small batched and has already sold out. I’ll be looking forward to their next batch which I believe will be available in 500ml bottles from a few bottle shops around Melbourne and at Young and Jackson’s rooftop cider bar.

I was a little excited later when I spotted the stand for Cheeky Rascal, they had everything out for tasting including some of their liqueurs. I got Big Kev excited when I spotted a new flavour in the form of strawberry and pear. This is a sweet drop with a little bit of the strawberry acid coming through to balance it. A review for this will be up in the coming week. There was also a mention of some more flavoured ciders to come with the new season fruits and berries. If you have tried any of their ciders I highly recommend them. Put the strawberry and apple cider up against any cider with berries in it and you will be amazed at how real the strawberry flavour is. This is because they actually use real strawberries (weird I know) which is evident just from the smell you get when you open a bottle. These guys are all about using real fruit and doing things properly and I am looking forward to trying next seasons ciders when they are available. You can sometimes find them at the Abbotsford Convent Farmers and Slow food markets. I’ve been told this depends on their strawberry harvest because they sell the cider at the some stall.

Finally I stumbled upon a random cider from Giverny Estate. Kiwi fruit cider. My interaction with the stall holders was minimal. All I got was a weird look when I asked how they made it. I was given a sample and found it to be a little nutty and quite tart. So I asked about the yeast they had used and if it was bottle conditioned. Another weird look like I was a moron. The lady then proceeded to explain to me that it was not brewed like champagne and had no added sugar. Not really answering any questions or making love this weird and slightly furry cider.

Overall I was not impressed with the exhibition. I found it to be more about people trying to feel better about Masterchef existing and pretending it taught us what good food should taste like. There were so many wine wankers there it was hard not to push their plastic pretentious wine glasses into their faces as they stood around quaffing and trying to look sophisticated. If you were a vegetarian you might as well have stayed out side and foraged in Carlton Gardens for food. I saw one vegetarian dish that was not ice-cream, chocolate or a macaron.

One last note. I am a big green giant. There was so much waste at this event. Props to Longrain for serving me a drink in a Biopak cup and the I heart Mozzarella cheese plate was on palm leaf plates. It would be awesome if next year Taste implemented environmentally responsible policies and got with the program.


Bouche or Douche?

Excited excited excited. The guys at Smith St Cellars have finally found something that competes if not surpasses the benchmark. It may be a Bress beater. Big call but I am going to make it.

Right of the bat there are a few things you notice. This is a french cider (or cider) from France. Weird I know. The bottle has a lot of information on it and if you have the patience to search the net you’ll find out that this cider is organic and from an old orchard with something like 6000 trees in it. But that is beside the point.

This cider comes corked and by the vintage. Once you pop that cork you are greeted by a funky smell. Kinda of like feet that are bathed in apple juice then soaked in beer. Well thats the initial smell that i could grab a hold of. Let it air and breath a little and it mellows a little and then you don’t feel like you need to hold your nose when you try to drink it.

Cidre Bouche.

Don't be scared of the smell. You just need to breathe.

Once you get past the smell you will notice it is a little bit darker than your average cider. There is this never ending spiral of bubbles and sediment which will entertain you as you let it air. The first taste is tricky, you are in a frame of mind that it is going to be all tart and dry because the french think that everything needs to taste like champagne and cheese. Dry and stinky.

I went WTF?? What?? How??

Then when I gathered my words and tried to put pen to paper all I could think was that it is amazing. Dry without the screw your face up tartness. A sweet tail that lingers long after you have gulped that first sip and are trying to workout if you can taste this with a beer bong. You just want to keep on drinking this and trying to workout what is going on. So many flavours and smells. A challenge for even the most pretentious wine drinking wanker. The guide on the bottle suggests it can be enjoyed with almost any meal. Including pancakes which means you can even have it for breakfast. Pancakes and cider? Winning!

Don’t Douche with the Bouche

 

Now the tricky bit. For those that have tried either of the Bress ciders, you will know that are some of the finer fizzy apple drinks around. It is enjoyable and consistent. It gets your attention with a few standout characteristics that keep you saying wow as you drink it. I think of those as the shiny distractions. The Bouche has these outstanding shiny bits, but they keep moving and changing as you drink it. I like it better than the Bress but I can’t say exactly why yet. The Bouche just seems more level and sensible, outstanding from start to finish.  Maybe I need to drink a few more bottles and compare them in the same sitting. The Bress just seems like a bit of a peacock when you try to compare it to the Bouche.

Buy a few bottles of this when you find it. Then try and hide them in random spots around your house so they are a surprise and get a chance to age.

This cider tastes amazing. Buy it. Drink it. Hide it. Find it. Drink even more.

  • Organic apple goodness
  • 5.5%
  • $19
  • 9.25/10

Available from Smith St Cellars and McCoppins.


Anyone for a Golden Badger Shower?

This is that good that you could actually shower in it. Before you drink it, unless your into that german stuff and don’t mind it filtered. Very proper and British, but without the bad dentistry. It smells dry as soon as you open it, like its keeping secrets and doesn’t want to spoil the delightful surprise.

If only I could bathe in this Badger shower like this...

Yes, thats right. I’m calling this one delightful. It is nice to look at in the glass and the bubbles are mesmerising. Initial taste is dry but not punchy. It just goes down so easily and the flavour sits nicely. Like a really good beer that you will drink every Friday arvo after a big week at work. I would not be adverse to putting a few pints away and this is a cider that could be used to convert your beer drinking mates like christians use holy water to turn sinners. Maybe not a rebirth, but an eye opener for the ignorant.

I can’t single out what it is that makes it so drinkable. Its got a strange woodiness to it which is what keeps you interested but doesn’t become overwhelming after just one or two.

This Badger tastes better than yo mumma's beaver
This Badger tastes better than yo mumma’s beaver
  • Oaky doaky. Wood-n’t stop me drinking this all day.
  • I can’t remember how potent this Badger is
  • $6ish
  • 7.5/10

Delightfully drinkable. That is all.