On The Shelf – Sixpoint Brewery Sweet Action

By The Gentleman

 

After sampling the Bengali Tiger the next Sixpoint Brewery beer on the list to try was the Sweet Action Ale. The Sweet Action is another of Sixpoint’s core ales and in fact the Sweet Action was the original beer brewed by Sixpoint back when they were founded in 2004.

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Again the Sweet Action follows the same design style as the Bengali Tiger. Putting the Sweet Action and Bengali Tiger next to each other they look good, similar yet with their own identity. I think I prefer the bold orange and tiger design on the Bengali but the Sweet Action still looks nice. It has what I think is a wheat plant as its logo, so not quite as impressive as a tiger, but as it is done in the same style as the tiger it still looks cool. I also love the name, ‘Sweet Action’ and it’s made even better by the fact that sweet action has an entry on Urban Dictionary.

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The beer itself is quite tasty. It is lighter in colour than the Bengali Tiger, less of an orange and more of an amber. It is quite hazy though and not as clear as I was expecting. Sixpoint describe the beer as “hard to define, but perhaps that’s why people love it. Part pale ale, part wheat, part cream ale- all Sweet Action.” The flavour is certainly hard to define. It is not as bitter as the Bengali and not as heavy either. I found it easier to drink as it had a nice dry crispness to it. I couldn’t really pick up on exact flavours quite like I could with the Bengali, maybe a bit of citrus and a sort of caramelly/butterscotch, but for me it starts out sweet then goes bitter with the aftertaste and then as it lingers it goes kind of sweet again. I can’t really describe it but I do like it.

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Two down and so far I’m liking what Sixpoint have to offer. I could probably drink more of the Sweet Action because it is that bit lighter than the Bengali and a bit easier to drink but both boast powerful and interesting flavours in stylishly large cans. Any beer drinker would be happy.

 

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Now Serving – Vodka Gimlet

By The Lady

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We here at Cocktail Challenge are big fans of Mad Men, so naturally when the premier of season seven was aired a few weeks ago, we got a tad excited. So excited that we decided to incorporate this into our cocktail making. Via the Mad Med website, we found a list of delightful sounding cocktails we thought we must share with you. We decided to start our Mad Men cocktail making adventure with the Vodka Gimlet.

McHenry Puer Vodka

We decided to use another tasty local liquor – McHenry Puer Distilled Premium Vodka, of William McHenry & Sons Distillery. I was given a gift box with three of their spirits including the Puer Vodka, a Classic Dry Gin and an Old English Sloe Gin. As a side note, I cannot wait to get my hands on another bottle of the Sloe Gin. I whipped through it rather quickly and am now in withdrawal. This gift box was a great present as it gave me an opportunity to sample a variety of Tasmania’s fine vodka and gin goodies.

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For our Vodka Gimlet, we used :

45mL McHenry Puer Triple Distilled Premium Vodka

30mL lime juice

2 slices of lime

Ice

Shake together vodka, lime juice with ice in your cocktail shaker.  Strain contents into glass and add lime slices. Add extra ice as desired.

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The resulting drink turned out to be a very pretty colour with a lovely citrus scent. There is definitely a reason why this drink is a classic. It shows that by carefully considering the pairing of flavours, a drink can quickly become an old time favourite. The drink was rather powerful, particularly with an especially dominant but refreshing lime flavour.  However, it is important to remember that back in the 1960’s days of Mad Men, many people would have smoked. Given this, the flavours in food and drinks needed to be rather intense for it to be noticed. The levels of lime may be to extreme for a modern palette, but the Vodka Gimlet sure is a drink of its time. I would suggest to maybe tone down the lime juice if you plan on making this yourself, unless of course you love limes or if you smoke like Don Draper. Overall, the drink was very refreshing and pleasant and some might say it was as tart as Betty Draper.

 

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Now Serving – Bengali Strepsil

By The Gentleman

 

So the other day I was watching an episode of Jamie and Jimmy’s Food Fight Club and they kept going on about how beer cocktails are the big thing in drinking at the moment. It was also an episode where Jamie and Jimmy said huckle-my-buff so many times it became a form of torture and I wanted to huckle Jamie’s buff to make him stop, but it did get me thinking that I hadn’t had a beer cocktail yet.

 

I skipped through my books to see if I could find any interesting beer cocktail recipes, but nothing took my fancy. There were either a version of ‘shot and a brew’ or something akin to a shandy. Not that there’s anything wrong with those combinations, I’ll probably try them later, but I was feeling a little more adventurous. I eventually searched online and adapted the Weissen Sour from here. It was an interesting drink that grew on you over time.

 

Bengali Strepsil

1 1/2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon

3/4 oz lemon juice

1 tsp lime marmalade

2 dashes Bitter Tears Lucille Blood Orange bitters

2 oz Sixpoint Brewery Bengali Tiger IPA

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Combine ingredients in shaker over ice. Gently shake together. Pour over fresh ice in glass. Top with remaining Bengali Tiger and an extra squeeze of lemon juice.

 

Now you are probably wondering why I called it the Bengali Strepsil. Well, the drink had a very intense bitter and hoppy flavour at first from the beer (you can see my views on the Bengali Tiger IPA here). As the flavour progressed you picked up on the lemon juice, the citrus from the beer and the ginger from the bitters. What you were left with was a flavour and sensation reminiscent of sucking on a strepsil throat reliever, but in a good way. The Lady commented that they reminded her of these particular Danish strepsils that were ginger flavoured. In the same way that a Strepsil works, your mouth felt very cleansed afterwards with a very pleasant aftertaste and a hint of numbness. The drink also had a very pretty light orange colour to it, I assume from the beer that I used which had more of a hazy orange colour. Pleasing to look at and, eventually, pleasing to sip.

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The recipe itself could use a little work. It probably wasn’t quite as balanced as it should be but it didn’t taste like rocket fuel and that’s always a plus in my book. I didn’t think the marmalade added anything, mainly because the ice kept it solid. Maybe warming it up could help. Adding in the extra beer and squeeze of lemon was a personal flavour thing as it was pretty damn intense without them. If you’re a bourbon drinker you may not want to add the extra beer and lemon in. The IPA was also quite a heavy, strongly flavoured beer on its own so I’d like to come back to it and try out a few different types of beer to see how the flavour changes and a few different bitters too. I would also like to try it without adding the beer to the shaker. That way you could get the bourbon, juice and bitters more incorporated and then top it with the beer.

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Overall, drinking the Bengali Strepsil was somewhat reminiscent of Dylan Moran’s stand-up where he talks about drinking wine. You start of thinking ‘God that’s strong!’ but then overtime the flavour grows on you, becoming more pleasant and familiar and easier to drink. Who knows, I may even whip one up next time I’ve got a sore throat to see if it does the job. It’s certainly a more attractive proposition to drink an alcoholic strepsil than to suck on one.

 

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On The Shelf- Sixpoint Brewery Bengali Tiger IPA

By The Gentleman

 

Half the fun or should I say struggle of On The Shelf is in not only finding cool brands to feature on The Cocktail Challenge but finding cool brands that we can actually get our hands on. So many times we’ve come across something kind of special only to discover that it isn’t available in Australia or is unable to be shipped here. Luckily Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery is not one of those brands and I was able to order a selection of the brewer’s fine ales.

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The Bengali Tiger IPA is one of Sixpoint’s core brews. It comes in a can, but not a dainty Coke sized can but a big 473 ml pint can. Holding the Bengali Tiger reminded me of being in France and going down to the corner store to buy street beers with my brother. Every beer there came in the same style can and for a Euro or two you got a whole lot of beer. In Australia, despite being a mighty beer swilling nation, the pint can has never really taken off for some reason, which is a shame.

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Looking across the Sixpoint line there is a degree of uniformity I like. The design of each can is essentially the same, except each beer has it’s own colour scheme and logo. It’s a very clean and effective design style. On each can the name of the beer and the brewer name are bold and really stand out so you can see easily on the shelf what it is you’re looking at and who it is by. The Bengali Tiger, as expected, utilises bright orange on its can and has a little tiger logo that is all symmetry and simplicity. It is a design that really works and shows how important organisation is in design and how effective repetition can be.

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Opening up the Bengali Tiger you get a strong hit of citrus. Pouring it out, the beer is quite a hazy orange colour that generated only a bit of head. It had quite a hoppy bitterness to it and it felt very thick in the mouth, I guess from the relatively high alcohol volume of 6.4% and the high level of hops and malt. In the after taste I definitely got some of the pine and general citrusy feel with a bit of an almost numbing sensation in the aftertaste, probably from the pine. Looking into the beer a bit more I can now better understand why the beer cocktail I made with it tasted the way it did (more on that later in the week).

 

For my first Sixpoint beer the Bengali Tiger IPA was encouraging. It looked good and tasted pretty good too, I definitely enjoyed the citrus/pine mix, and with it’s presence expanding in Australia it could be the next Brooklyn based brewer to follow in the footsteps of Brooklyn Brewery and come to capture the attention of Australian beer drinkers. It certainly cuts an impressive figure that should help it stand out on the shelves.

 

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Now Serving – Yarratini

By The Lady

 

While it is true that James Bond gets many things right, I always wonder why he opts for the “vodka martini – shaken, not stirred”.

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(L) Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin (R) Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

 

After recently adding to our On The Shelf collection some lovely Yarra Valley goods, I thought The Gentleman and I should give this old classic a go. Having been very delighted after trying both Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin and Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth, as well as the fact that they are neighbours, it seemed only natural to create a modern Australian twist on an old fashioned favourite. We named it : The Yarratini – shaken, not stirred.

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We used :

40mL Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin

10mL Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

Lemon twist

Ice (for the shaker)

 

Add all the ingredients to your cocktail shaker. Shake like crazy. Pour into your fancy martini glasses. Use a strainer to ensure only the liquor (not ice cubes) end up in your glass. Garnish with a lemon twist (I need to work on my garnish cutting skills … )

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The first time I ever had a martini was about a week after I turned eighteen. Thinking I would attempt being all suave and sophisticated, I ordered said drink. All I remember of that night was that it was a very strong and boozy drink.  Luckily for us, our Yarratini was a much more smooth and refined version of the cheap impostor I sampled back in the day. Yes, it certainly was a strong drink (it does have 50mL of alcohol after all!) but it was the sophisticated drink I had hoped and dreamed for many years ago. Given that the Four Pillars Gin is made using whole oranges and the Causes & Cures Vermouth suggests the pairing with oranges,  I was definitely able to taste the orange flavour coming through. This delightful orange tone was a pleasant and unexpected surprise, which made me want to try it in the future with some sort of orange addition to further enhance the flavour. It may be the liquor talking, but I also thought I could taste a rose flavour coming through. I personally LOVE anything rose flavoured, so again, this has inspired me to partake in some rose-flavoured cocktail making!

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The Yarratini was a very tasty and grown-up cocktail although I wouldn’t drink too many in one sitting for fear of my oh so dignified self becoming not so dignified! Moderation is the key! Yay for the power of our Yarra Valley friends at Four Pillars and Causes & Cures to get you smashed in a stylish and quasi modern Australian James Bond style!

 

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On The Shelf- First Drop Wines Home of the Brave III Nebbiolo

By The Gentleman

 

Okay so I have no idea who or what a ‘Nebbiolo’ is. Seriously no idea. As I poured a glass of Home of the Brave III, from Baroass Valley, South Australia, based wine slingers First Drop Wines (another fine local doing their thing with both class and style) I suddenly realised I had no idea what I was drinking. I’m a red drinker and don’t profess to favor any sort of blend over another but I generally at least know what I’m drinking when I’m drinking it.  With the Home of the Brave III it was definitely a case of being distracted by the label as I just got lost in the artistry of the lettering, the layout and the colors to a stage where I didn’t really care what I was drinking as long as it came out of this bottle.

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As you soak up the image above I’ll inform you that a ‘Nebbiolo’ is a type of red Italian wine grape. One story suggests that the Nebbiolo gets its name from the Italian word for fog, nebbia, because during the October harvests an intense fog covers the Langhe region where many of the Nebbiolo vineyards are located. There are other suggestions as to where the name may have come from but seriously with a story as cool as that why would you bother with any others.

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Pouring out a glass I was quite shocked by the light color as I wasn’t expecting it. The Nebbiolo grapes produce a very light ruby red wine and the Home of the Brave III was no exception. The light ruby of the Nebbiolo was quite pretty and interesting especially in comparison to the deep, dark reds that I am accustomed to. The flavor was very light and almost fresh, without the usual heaviness of a red or the strong boozy hit. It was very drinkable with a quite pleasant, mild taste lingering after each mouthful.

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The label itself was designed by Melbourne’s street artist collective Everfresh Studio. It’s very cool to see two local, creative companies partnering to produce something special. The piece, according to the Everfresh crew, “epitomises our strong drive to always be at the forefront with our artwork, but never forgetting the work of those who inspired us. This piece references the golden age of design, when so much detail was put purely into layout and type to make words look as if they are almost musical.”  Everfresh have certainly captured that reference as the label is beautifully constructed, showcasing a range of different fonts yet still managing to working well together as a whole. I’m usually attracted to bottles with images but the Everfresh design works so well together that the words go beyond mere fonts to produce their own stunning image. The colors of the label are bright and vibrant and I think this mirrors the color of the Nebbiolo wine quite well and whether this is intentional or not it shows great harmony between the wine and the label.

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Whether or not you know what a Nebbiolo wine is or not you should definitely check out this very stylish and eye-catching bottle from First Drop Wines and Everfresh Studio. You owe it to your senses.

 

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On The Shelf – Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

By The Lady

 

Another recent addition to the shelf is a bottle of Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth created in Yarra Valley, Australia. (Hooray for the local lads and ladies!). This particular vermouth uses a selection of herbs such as orris root, wormwood, saffron, star anise and bay leaf to name a few. I would be interested to try it with some Gabriel Boudier Saffron Gin to highlight some of the saffron notes. The label describes a medieval treatise that recorded “beneficial and restorative powers of all known herbs and spices” which was also called ‘Causes & Cures’, hence where I am guessing their name comes from.

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Let’s be honest, as much as I pretend I’m not when I stroll through my local liquor store, I really am a sucker for stylish labels. And this Causes & Cures label is one dapper label. The heptagon framing the brand, name of the drink and logo is intersected by notations regarding its creation and ingredients. The selections of fonts is aesthetically pleasing and aids in making it a unique and interesting label. Additionally, I am interested to find out more about the creature featured within the brand’s logo and on the cap of the bottle. Curiouser and curiouser.

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Not really having had much vermouth previously, aside from in cocktails (aka a chilled mixture of deliciousness), I was curious as to the ways in which one might serve vermouth on its own. I somewhat followed the suggestion on the side of the bottle and was pleasantly surprised. I used :

30 mL Causes & Cures Semi Dry White Vermouth

Juice of about half an orange

An orange twist

Lots of ice

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The resulting drink was very smooth and rather tasty, if i don’t say so myself! I initially thought it may taste too strong by itself, but this vermouth has such a clean, crisp and refreshing flavour – just the right balance of strength and subtlety. The orange compliments this liquor extremely well, so thanks for the tip Causes & Cures! Being a small batch craft vermouth, supplies are limited so if you are eager I would suggest to snap up your own bottle quick smart.

 

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