On The Shelf – Sierra Nevada Brewing 2014 Narwhal Imperial Stout

By The Gentleman

Before I begin I just want to say that anyone who doesn’t like annoying, kind of funny, repetitive Internet songs that get stuck in your head for a decade should probably stop reading right now…okay are they gone? Good, then let’s begin.

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I want to take you back over ten years, to a time before YouTube, when finding hilarious online videos usually involved a trip to Newgrounds or some other Flash video portal. During this time there was one particular Flash cartoon creator who was like the Devil incarnate for catchy Internet videos : Jonti Picking and the Weebl Stuff website. Picking had a gift for creating repetitive songs that could drill deep down into your brain. Years after seeing a video you’d still find yourself humming along to Magical Trevor, Badger, Badger, Badger, or the Kenya song. Once you heard one of these songs it was impossible to forget it. Someone starts talking about Kenya (or Norway…more like Snoreway!) and all I can see is little dancing Lions and Tigers and all I can hear is an Englishman singing “Come to Kenya” with a really annoying trumpet accompaniment. Basically the point of this is the whole time I was drinking the Sierra Nevada 2014 Narwhal Imperial Stout all I could think of was “Narwhals! Narwhals! Swimming in the ocean causing a commotion coz they are so awesome”:

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I’d like to talk about the delicious thick, creamy, brown head and the big, rich, roasted coffee and chocolate flavour of this Imperial Stout, which smelt just as good as it tasted and went down surprisingly smoothly with little bitterness or over the top boozyness despite clocking in at a beastly 10.2% ABV, but really all I can think about is Narwhal’s and how they are so awesome. Did you know they are the Jedi’s of the sea AND they invented the shish kebab? Looking at the bad-ass Narwhal on the Sierra Nevada label it’s easy to believe these things. They look like a creature that doesn’t mess about and just gets straight down to the business of being awesome, much like the Narwhal Imperial Stout.

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Apparently the Narwhal Imperial Stout is a beer that gets better with age, but I don’t think I’d be able to have it in the house for any length of time. Every time I see it I’d just start thinking about Narwhal’s and singing that damn song, it would slowly drive me insane. No this is one to drink as soon as you can get your hands on it.

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On The Shelf – Kaiju! Beer Double IPA

By The Gentleman

After a short hiatus The Lady and I are back and boy have we come back in a big way with the Kaiju! Beer Double IPA another shining example from the growing Australian craft beer scene.

Kaiju! Beer Double IPA

During our time away from The Cocktail Challenge we kind of got a little bit obsessed with the instant restaurant portion of My Kitchen Rules. The show is just so trashy and awkward, but it’s also quite unintentionally funny. We love Pete and Manu’s serious eating faces where they kind of just stare off into the distance while they are eating the contestants dish and then they turn and look each other longingly in the eye. It’s riveting stuff. When you’ve sat through a few weeks of My Kitchen Rules all the buzzwords and sappy stories about food start to blend into one. One of our favourites is the contestants promise of “big, bold flavours”. A close second is “hero of the dish”. I’m pretty sure you would get rather drunk if you played the My Kitchen Rules drinking game where you had to take a shot every time someone said “big, bold flavours” or some other incredibly cliched food saying. It’s ridiculous. Drinking Kaiju! Beer’s Double IPA we couldn’t help but think that if the beer appeared on My Kitchen Rules the contestants and judges would trundle out the “big, bold flavours” claim. Funnily enough, in this case it would actually be a pretty damn accurate claim.

Kaiju! Beer Double IPA

Kaiju! Beer, who used to be called Monster Mash until a certain energy drink company made them stop, have crafted a monster of a beer. The Double IPA clocks in at a ridiculous 9.1% ABV and 140 IBU and comes in a 500ml bottle. It’s big and it’s damn well bold. The Kaiju on the bottle reminds me of some sort of hop monster, which is really fitting for the beer. It’s a fun and eye catching label that really makes a statement on the shelf. The beer itself pours with an attractive and thick creamy white head and the body is a dark cloudy amber colour. Taking the first mouthful the beer really wallops you right in the back of the throat with flavour. You get some malty caramel flavour and a bit of a bready taste. Really though the beer is all about the hops. They are the ‘hero of the dish’ and they’re big, they’re bold, and they’re bitter. Your whole mouth just gets swallowed up in bitterness that really pushed me to the edge of my tolerance for bitter beer. I was sure this wasn’t going to be The Lady’s cup of tea (or pint of beer), but after getting knocked about on that first sip she settled into it like I did. There is a touch of sweetness in the lingering bitterness to just help things tone down a little. It also makes you feel damn warm from the alcohol content. I’ve had a few high strength beers that didn’t feel too heavy and boozy, but the Kaiju! Beer Double IPA is a pretty heavy and boozy beer.

Kaiju! Beer Double IPA

Now it’s time to crack open another Kaiju! Beer Double IPA and experience some of those “big, bold flavours” while laughing at the latest awkwardness of My Kitchen Rules. Don’t forget to take a shot on every cliche.

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On The Shelf – Koerner Wine Vermentino ‘Rolle’

By The Gentleman

Koerner Wine Vermentino Rolle

The other day, we introduced you to one of South Australia’s new breed of small winemakers, Koerner Wine. We really enjoyed their Shiraz Mourvèdre, but then again that didn’t really surprise us as we have a pretty much obsessive love of red wine. What neither of us have really had as much experience with is white wine. Koerner produce two types of white, both variations of the Vermentino, and the reviews had been mighty positive so we thought it was our duty to educate ourselves and expand our white wine repertoire. We sampled the Vermentino ‘Rolle’ and we’d have to say with quality this good, we may have to put a few more whites into our wine drinking rotation.

Koerner Wine Vermentino Rolle

The Vermentino ‘Rolle’ had a sweet, inviting citrusy aroma. Tasting it, you almost get overwhelmed, in the best possible sense, by the tangyness. It is really pleasant, your whole mouth feels it, and it leaves you doing a fair bit of lip-smacking. There was also something akin to melon fruits, like taking a bite of honeydew or rock melon, in the flavour but also the sensation and texture. What surprised us, mostly because of our limited white experience, was how easy it was to drink. It was fresh and smooth with a bit of dryness. The flavours were just so crisp and fresh. After almost finishing the glass I also worked out the last little surprise, a delicious lingering aftertaste of sweet pineapple. Damn son.

Koerner Wine Vermentino Rolle

This is far and away the best white wine I have drunk. Admittedly it is a small sample, but quality always shines through. This is damn good and if you’re a white fan, or someone looking to branch out like us, then you should really hunt down a bottle or hope your local might have it by the glass (I hear Africola and Clever Little Tailor have it).

Koerner Wine Vermentino Rolle

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On The Shelf – Koerner Wine Shiraz Mourvèdre

By The Lady

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We believe that summer is the perfect time to be lapping up some delicious wines … well, any time of the year is a good time. Who are we kidding? But seriously, summer Down Under is great as the evenings are warm, light, and lend themselves for sipping down a glass or two of vino to wash away the day. Our most recent venture is with local winemakers Koerner Wines.

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Koerner Wines is based in the Watervale area of the Clare Valley and run by SA brothers Damon and Jonathan Koerner. While they have both spent time gaining valuable experience around the nation and the globe, they both grew up in the Clare Valley and I suspect they have a nostalgic urge to keep it local. Thus, most of the grapes used in their wine comes from the local surrounds and from a vineyard owned by their own father! Koerner specialise in super-low production runs, think batches of only 10 cases, so when you come across one make sure you snap it up quick like we did. We managed to acquire a few of their delicious treats, and decided to start with the Shiraz Mourvèdre.

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The Shiraz Mourvèdre was a perfect blend of the rich Shiraz and the bold Mourvèdre. It had a bright colour, attractive colour that really caught the eye.  The wine also had the perfect amount of weight and oomph to it for a summer’s eve. You can definitely drink this now, there was almost a juicy freshness to it, but if cellaring is your thang then we could see this developing some deeper, richer and smoother flavour. Additionally, the spiciness and fruity aromas were rather prominent in this lovely beauty and translated into a delicious drop of wine with a nice balance between dark berries and spice. We also really love the design of their labels. Each bottle proudly dons the same filigree style grapevine in a rainbow of wine inspired colours. Let me tell you, I am certain their is a pot of gold at the end of the Koerner rainbow!

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On The Shelf – By Jingo Wines Nero Rosso

By The Lady

By Jingo! Nero Russo

We, dear readers, are very lucky ducks! A dear friend of ours spoiled us this Christmas by giving us a bottle of By Jingo! Nero Rosso.

By Jingo! Nero Russo

By Jingo! are a South Australian winery who focus on growing grapes and making wines that suit the areas in which they are produced. With grapes sourced from vineyard areas such as Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Southern Fleurieu, you know their wines are going to be tasty as a wine can be. In fact, the Nero Rosso includes grapes that were grown above the nudist beach at Maslin’s Beach so you know things are bound to get a little funky at By Jingo! They also have on offer a range of unique blends, which is both exciting and refreshing.

By Jingo! Nero Russo

The Nero Rosso itself is a perfect red wine to enjoy on a hot summer’s day and boy has it been hot lately. All we want to do is sit back, sip some damn fine wine, and try not to stick to the couch. This beauty has such a grace about it and goes down so easily, qualities we are lacking as we slowly melt. The Nero Rosso combines the likes of a Grenache, Montepulciano as well as a Zinfandel. Personally, I can really taste the summery notes of the Montepulciano coming through in this wine. It has a deep red colour and a full-bodied flavour of dark berries and currants, yet it’s quite light at the same time. The mouthfeel is actually quite fresh and very smooth with lots of nice fruit flavours and just a hint of tart, acidic tannins. You can easily polish off the whole bottle in one sitting, it’s sneaky good that way, and it’s the perfect bottle to just pick up drink no questions asked.

By Jingo! Nero Russo

Their label design is also spot on. The names of the wine and winery are encased by a plethora of beautiful, colourful blooms and fruits. Again, the fresh and summery taste of the wine truly shines through their label design. As I looked at the bottle, even prior to opening it, I was able to imagine the fragrant smells and textures of the Nero Rosso by way of the dapper design on By Jingo’s graphics. It was a very inviting label, offering up a veritable cornucopia for the eyes and we definitely got a bit of a hot flush in anticipation when we saw it or maybe that was just the oppressive heat.

 

So, if summer is totally your jam and you’re in the mood for a red, we suggest you pick up a bottle of By Jingo! wine to enjoy on a balmy summer eve with friends aplenty.

 

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On The Shelf – Matso’s Mango and Desert Lime Cider

By The Lady

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As the weather here is getting hotter and hotter (it happens when you are in the driest state in the driest country!) we here at Cocktail Challenge HQ are feeling more in the mood for drinks that keep us cool. Well, cooler than we already are if that is possible! So, we find ourselves being drawn to cider these days when we are looking to a evening beverage to accompany the balmy nights. Hence, after trying out Matso’s products in our Mango Beer Bellini, we were intrigued by their Mango and Desert Lime Cider. Honestly, we felt out lives would not be complete if we had not tried it out.

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Matso’s Broome Brewery is a microbrewery based in the Kimberly Region in Western Australia. They produce an impressive range of award winning beers and ciders that all have something new to add to the world of Australian liquor. Some of their unique flavours include a Chilli Beer, a Lychee Beer as well as the Desert Lime & Wild Ginger Cider to name a few. The Mango and Desert Lime Cider that we sampled is extremely refreshing and surprisingly not overly sweet. We were expecting that with the mango and desert lime flavour that the cider would be ultra sugary, however this drink had a lovely subtly to its fruity flavour. The cider also had some very enthusiastic bubbles which gave the drink a very fresh and energising character. While we sampled this one on its own, we feel it would go quite well with a variety of dishes and would not clash with savoury meals.

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Also, I feel we must mention the packaging and design of this liquor. Really, what’s not to love about an old school diver man surrounded by flying mangoes? Honestly! We feel like the Matso diver is in some sort of boozy, fruity heaven where one can drink as much cider as you want. If this is what heaven is, we want to go to there. We also respect a company who spin a good yarn about their product and the Mango Cider With Desert Lime has a fun little story about pearl divers off the Kimberley Coast helping save a shipwrecked crew and their cargo, including lots of fresh produce that soon ended up in some unique brews. We love how it captures the rascal spirit of Australia and provides some context to Matso’s diver man.  They also get bonus points for having a fun website!

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We can really see ourselves sipping down many more of Matso’s Mango and Desert Lime Cider in the coming months, in part because we love the flying mangoes and diver man on the label, but mainly because it is just so gosh darn refreshingly delicious!

 

 

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On The Shelf – Delinquente Wines Montepulciano

By The Lady

“Sometimes you’ve got to heed the call of the wild child within. Sometimes you’ve got to go home with a bunch of grapes who’re ugly as sin”

Girl, you know we went home with those “ugly as sin” grapes and showed them the time of their lives. By drinking them.
Bullet Dodger
We here at The Cocktail Challenge always like to keep our eyes peeled for dapper looking, locally made liquor. As soon as we saw the labels of Delinquente Wine Co., we knew that we needed to have some. We have been wanting to try this one out for AGES. Finally, we stumbled upon this beauty during a browsing sesh at East End Cellars and we felt like we’d hit the jackpot.
Bullet Dodger
Delinquente Wines are a local crew, sourcing their grapes in the Riverland and producing their wine here in South Australia. Not only do they kick ass already by being a small batch local wine producer, but they also ensure that their wines are vegan friendly. While The Gentleman is just about the opposite of a vegan, I myself dabble in the ways of veganity. Many people are not aware, but a great deal of liquor makes use of the ingredients that render their products as not suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Luckily, the vegos and vegans of the world can now get their draaank on with Delinquente Wine Co!

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The artwork for their labels and their website is created by local street artist Ankles. All of their current wines are presented in a very similar design style with each featuring their own heavily tattooed badass character to personify the wine. The Montepulciano features “The Bullet Dodger” character, with his heavily tattooed face, mullet hair and pouted lips. We love the little story Delinquente have printed on the back of the bottle to introduce us to “The Bullet Dodger”, it just gives the wine extra character and intrigue. Plus it’s quite hilarious as we all know exactly the type of person Delinquente are describing. Other bottles present an illustrated Pretty Boy and a stylised Screaming Betty.  I have seen Ankles work out and about in Adelaide and have loved the artist’s style for a long time. Really, it is no surprise that I am swooning over Delinquente Wine Co and their inked individuals.
Bullet Dodger
The wine itself is incredibly easy to drink and rather delicious. It has a rather light colour and a touch of translucency (is this a word? After polishing off the whole bottle it is definitely a word). The lighter plum colour was unexpected, but still a delightful looking glass o’ wine. The scent of The Bullet Dodger is full of fruity and berry scents with a creamy texture to boot! It is very light and we feel it would go perfectly with a number of meals, or also suitable on its own. It leaves this lovely spiciness on your tongue which would stand up perfectly on its own or compliment a meal rather well. They refer to the grapes they use as “ugly” but think this wine is anything but. The Bullet Dodger is a beautiful wine inside and out.
Bullet Dodger
We are thoroughly looking forward to continuing our Delinquente ways by trying some of their other tasty treats. We’ll keep you posted on which tattooed creatures we next meet!

Bullet Dodger

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