On The Shelf – Evil Twin Brewing Yin Imperial Taiji Stout

By The Gentleman

Do you know what’s fun? Standing around an open bonfire feeling its warmth while roasting marshmallows. That is until you realise you stink of smoke and your clothes are covered in little flakes of ash. God damn ash. Drinking the Evil Twin Yin Imperial Taiji Stout went a long way in replicating that experience without all that annoying ash. Winning.

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Evil Twin is another of the new Danish gypsy brewers who produce all kinds of crazy beer that are regarded as some of the best new beers in the world. I have to admit I’d seen gypsy brewer mentioned in regards to a few other labels and had no idea what it means. This time I looked it up and it means the company do not have brewing facilities of their own. Instead they collaborate with larger brewers that have excess production capacity. It’s a pretty crazy, but also reasonable idea when you think about it. Not everyone has ‘dat brewery facility money’. The Yin Imperial Taiji Stout, which has a simple but eye-catching label, is brewed at Two Roads Brewing Co in Connecticut and is actually meant to be consumed as one half of a Black and Tan with the Yang Imperial IPA making up the other half. I only had the Yin, but it was damn fine on its own.

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The Evil Twin Yin poured pitch black with a slight mocha head that dissipated very quickly. The beer smelt so smoky with a definite woodiness to it. I almost thought Smokey Bear was going to pop out and ask where the forest fire was. Seriously, I thought the smoke was just going to overpower everything. It was pretty damn intense. Luckily the more you drank it, and the closer it got to room temperature, the more you could pick up on the dark chocolate and more of a roasted flavour in amongst the smoke. I expected some creaminess and maybe a bit of vanilla, but it had quite a dry and bitter chocolate finish, although the last few mouthfuls were a bit smoother. The dry, bitter chocolate finish was definitely pleasant and quite long-lasting. You don’t really scull your way through this beer. It’s more something you sit back on a cold and windy night to enjoy slowly as the booze (and it had a heavy kick to me) tricks your body into feeling warm.

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I’d definitely be interested in getting the Yang to try the Black and Tan. The Yin is pretty bold so I’m really curious to see how the flavours interact and what gets enhanced/toned down. On its own though Yin was pretty tasty and gets bonus points for evoking those bonfire nights. Word of warning though things are still going to smell pretty smoky. The first thing The Lady said when she walked into the room was “it smells like beer…and smoke in here”. You may not be able to get rid of the smell, but at least you’ll have beer and won’t be covered in ash.

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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 – 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 – Lobo Cyser

By The Gentleman

 

By now it is pretty obvious that we pretty much cleaned out the Lobo Cider display at the Adelaide Farmer’s Market. They just had so many interesting and tasty things on offer that we could not resist. Lucky for you we have left the best for last, the very unusual Lobo Cyser.

Lobo Cyser

Cyser, if you didn’t know (and boy we did not know), is the traditional name for mead that has been made with apple juice and fermented honey. The Lobo Cyser is made with apple juice, quince juice and fermented honey from their neighbours honey bees and it’s also blended with some herbs and spices. It’s safe to say that this is the first Cyser we have tasted and it’s not something we would normally drink, but we just could not get over the label.

Lobo Cyser

We love that Lobo are quite dedicated to their wolf-men packaging, but the Cyser represents quite a departure from the Norman Cloudy Apple and Dry Pear Ciders. These guys were dapper, sophisticated wolves about town. The Cyser wolf, instead, is some tripped out version of the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood. Oh Cyser wolf, you so crazy. He’s a little bit dapper, but like someone who’s got addicted and is just trying to keep it together. Those bees make some powerful stuff. We love the way he’s salivating over the honey bee hive looking for that next hit of sweet, sweet honey gold.

Lobo Cyser

A sweet, sweet honey hit it has. Damn son. This thing is basically a dessert wine for cider, or cyser. You need to have committed to not eating any more food before cracking it open because it will need all of your attention. That honey sweetness demands that you sit down and sip it as the sweetness level has been taken to the very edge. The sourness of the apple and quince do enough to stop it going over the edge. I think the sweetness also hides the fact that this is quite potent little beverage, weighing in at 10.4%, although is that high or low for fermented apple & honey mead? We don’t even know, but for something that comes in this small a bottle it seems high, but the sweetness masks any overly boozy flavour. Underneath the sweet and sour we can definitely detect some of the mystery herbs and spices, possibly cinnamon, but we would probably need to have a few more to really work it out (it’s a hard life we know).

Lobo Cyser

Well that’s the end of our Lobo Cider and Cyser adventure. Those crazy wolves at Lobo certainly know what they are doing, crafting some good looking and fine tasting beverages and hey, now we can say we’ve tasted fermented apple and honey mead, can you?

Lobo Cyser

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On The Shelf – Lobo Dry Pear Cider

By The Gentleman

Lobo Cloudy Pear

While we were quite enamored with Norman, the dapper Cloudy Apple Cider wolf, he was not the only one to catch our eye at the Adelaide Farmer’s Market as we were also introduced to the Lobo Dry Pear Cider.

 

Norman was quite a fun dapper wolf with his bike and glasses, but the wolf on the Dry Pear looks all business. He’s dressed for success in his fine suit and he’s got that confident, almost cocky look to match. That’s necessary because you need that confidence and assurance to go a long with Lobo’s slogan ‘Evolving Tradition’ on the Dry Pear Cider.

Lobo Cloudy Pear

The Dry Pear Cider is another of Lobo’s small batch ciders and is made with Lemon Bergamot pears that are a specialist variety from South Australia (that’s right we’re special). It was another quite dark cider, but it’s not as dark as the Lobo Cloudy Apple Cider. That thing was like the mist from Stephen King’s The Mist, whereas this is more like a regular light morning mist. There’s definitely dryness to the cider, but it’s not overwhelmingly dry. It’s still got a quite crisp, refreshing flavour with enough bubbles going on that it gives you that ‘take your breath away’ sensation. There’s more of an aroma in the Dry Pear than the Cloudy Apple, a bit sour and floral, and flavourwise there was a touch more sweetness to it bordering on sour. The pear, the star of the show, is surprisingly subtle and the cider is a bit lighter as it only comes in at 5.6%. Usually The Lady and I don’t go for pear cider, but this was something we definitely liked.

Lobo Cloudy Pear

The Dry Pear, like the Cloudy Apple, is really nothing like the commercial stuff you find on the market these days, which isn’t all that surprising when you consider these are special small batch ciders that are evolving tradition. The Dry Pear means business with a very interesting flavour that has a lot of depth and a dapper suited wolf to match.

Lobo Cloudy Pear

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On The Shelf – Arthur Wines ‘Glass Slipper’ White Fortified Wine

By The Gentleman

 

As part of running The Cocktail Challenge The Lady and I have got the blog plastered over every social media platform we can find to get the word out there that we really like drinking. The best thing about being on these platforms is people not only find out about our blog, but we can find out what other people are up to. This On The Shelf is completely the result of  putting the blog on Pinterest, getting followed by the creative director at design and branding agency Studio Lost & Found and perusing what they have worked on. We came across these two very pretty ladies and simply had to find out more.

Arthur Wines Glass Slipper

The Glass Slipper White Fortified Wine is made by Arthur Wines in the Margaret River region of Western Australia. I’ve never had fortified wine before and The Lady hasn’t had much before but we both saw the labels and decided we had to have it regardless. Luckily, after tasting it, we realised the contents were just as good as the label. The Glass Slipper displays hints of lemon, lime, and meringue. It smells quite nice when you open the bottle, a very sweet but not overpowering smell. The Lady and I had a taste on it’s own, which was very sweet, but hey that’s fortified wine for you. We then mixed it with a bit of lemonade and surprisingly it actually tasted a bit like a lemon meringue pie! And who doesn’t love lemon meringue pie?  This is definitely the sort of drink that will go down really well in the summer. It’s very fresh and tastes as good as the bottle looks.

Arthur Wines Glass Slipper

The bottle though, oh the bottle. It has such a lovely shape, something you’d see more with spirits than wine. With the label it’s like Arthur Wines and Studio Lost & Found have read my mind when designing it. Pretty vintage ladies with hair worthy of Mad Men and vintage style font, oh my. The Glass Slipper is particularly cheeky, hello stockings, riffing off Cinderella and who doesn’t love that in a label. This time though she’s a bit rebellious, exchanging her slipper for her roller skates as the wine is part of the roller derby collection. Perusing through the Arthur Wines Facebook they certainly seem to like their derby, getting out and supporting the derby girls. Wine doesn’t have to be fancy all the time, sometimes it can be a bit more bold, more rough and tumble. The Glass Slipper works that line between fancy and more rough and tumble beautifully. Tash from Arthur Wines was also very kind in sending a few drink cards AND cards of the label. I am definitely going to get them framed because they are that damn stylish and cool. I’m very lucky that The Lady also shares my love of pretty vintage ladies so I can admire the Glass Slipper and not get in trouble.

Arthur Wines Glass Slipper and Drink Card

Being a fortified wine newbie and a lover of vintage pinup ladies it was almost inevitable that Arthur Wines Glass Slipper was going to be my first taste of this very sweet branch of the wine family. At the end of the day who can say no to a pretty lady? Plus I’ll definitely be keeping a keen eye out on Pinterest for more tasting inspiration, although that could prove fatal for my bank account. Something I’m sure you are all familiar with.

Arthur Wines Glass Slipper

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