Episode 7: Having a Squiz at Australia and New Zealand

 

Your tipsy Texan hosts take a trip down under to the outback and create bucket list of boozy must-dos in anticipation of Laura’s move to Australia.

Whatchu drinkin’?

IMG_5496Imperial Stout (aged in pinot noir barrels) from Moa Brewing Co.: Talk about a big beer. This dark brown beauty is bold in every way possible. The wood aging dominates the aroma and flavor, which is at first tart and then oaky, and right off that bat you can tell it has a high alcohol content — more than 10 percent. Once the beer warms up a little bit though — stouts develop new flavors as they warm up — roasty and chocolate notes shine through. According to Moa’s website, the beer is 100+ IBUs, which likely helps balance the full body.

 

IMG_5510Penfolds Koonunga Hills Shiraz Cabernet 2016: Penfolds is an internationally iconic wine from Australia, and the first Australian wine I ever tasted aside form Yellow Tail. This is a widely popular and affordable blend from the Koonunga Hill Range. The wine tastes like raspberries, mulberries, and red currants. The tannins and oak are noticeable but mild, and this bottle clocks in at 14.5%!

Brewery, winery, and bar recommendations

Pirate Life Brewing (Hindmarsh, South Australia), which was voted the best Australian brewery in a 2017 survey.

Stone and Wood Brewing Co  (Byron Bay, New South Wales), which was a named a “can’t miss” brewery by Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb, authors of Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers.

Epic Beer (Auckland, New Zealand), which sells beer by the case.

Little Creatures Brewing (locations in Fremantle, Western Australia and Geelong, Victoria), which was started by the founders of the historic Sail and Anchor pub. Its American Pale Ale has been called  “iconic.”

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Yeastie Boys Beer (New Zealand) Aside from the amazing name this brewery makes a yummy, well balanced, and refreshing line of beers. Our favorite is the Gunnamatta Tea Leaf IPA!

Rusden Wines (Vine Vale, Barossa Valley, South Australia) Fifth generation vignerons and third generation winemakers, this family uses traditional methods to make stunning wines that exemplify the Barossa.

Jurassic Ridge (Waiheke Island, New Zealand) A short ferry ride and scooter jaunt from Auckland and you are taking in the beautiful wines and views at Jurassic Ridge. We loved these wines so much we sent a case home!

Tyrrell’s Wine (Hunter Valley, New South Wales) Family owned since 1858 in the oldest wine region in Australia. The wine was gorgeous and the staff was so friendly, they gave us a private tour of the winery and cellar, this place is dripping in history and familial pride.

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Usher Tinkler Wines (Hunter Valley, New South Wales) This unassuming winery is tucked away in a breath taking old chapel. The hardwood floors and views through the stain-glass windows created a lovely atmosphere to sip these fun and funky wines.

 

Lark Distillery (Hobart, Tasmania) Family operation credited with jumpstarting the whiskey renaissance in Tasmania.

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Beneath Driver Lane (Melbourne, Australia) Funky and moody cocktail and whiskey bar located in an old underground bank vault. The entrance is tucked away down an alley but its worth the search! It’s one of our favorite bars in the city.

Shady Pines Saloon (Sydney, Australia) Whiskey bar with a kitschy Americana flair. It’s a bit hard to find (down an alley next to a yoga studio behind the papered door) but is so cozy and perfect for sipping whisky when the weather cools down.

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The Long Goodbye (Sydney, Australia) There are no cocktail menus here – the bartender chats with you about your favorite flavor profiles and crafts you a bespoke cocktail, and its under 20 dollars a drink!! I was really impressed with this space.

Perfect storm of economic factors

Australia never underwent a formal alcohol prohibition, but at beginning of the 20th century a perfect storm of economic factors led to an era that resembled Prohibition.

In 1901, Australia enacted a Beer Excise Act, which put numerous regulations on breweries including when and where beer could be distributed, which taxes they had to pay, label requirements and more. There’s also a section in there about brewers being subject to supervision from officers and the powers those officers had, and a note about beer buyers being entitled to a refund is the beer is “unfit for human use,” which seems sort of crazy. Couple that with an economic downturn and the number of breweries declined substantially — as much as half by 1920, according to Vintage Cellars.

The revolution for better beer didn’t take off until the 1980s when Sail and Anchor pub/brewery opened in Fremantle, West Australia.

Australia in real life

Laura here, and I’m happy to report I’ve been living it up in Australia for almost a year since we originally recorded this episode. It is fabulous here, the Australians have a real sense of pride in their beer and wine and rightly so. We’ve had the pleasure of staying in several wine regions sine we arrived (Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley, and Waiheke Island to name a few) and I got to work a real life vintage in the Barossa Valley!

I’ve learned so much about Australian wine since I’ve been here – the biggest take away is we don’t get enough of it at home in Texas! I was familiar with large, internationally marketed wines from down under, but have visited some amazing wineries that deserve a bit of attention. You can find those highlighted above.

IMG_0694.jpgOne interesting Australian wine trend that captured my imagination and heart is the sparkling red! Take a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon and bottle condition for bubbles and BOOM you’ve got a Christmas time classic. The dazzling pomegranate color and glitzy effervescence honestly make this a drink for any celebration.

I’m continuing on my alcohol fueled journey soon and plan to make a stop in Tasmania to tour the thriving whiskey scene and sip some killer Pinot Noirs. Can’t wait to update you all soon!

CORRECTION: “All the Foster’s in the world is brewed in Fort Worth, Texas.”

Tiney here, and I got a bit ahead of myself on this fact. (Thanks, tequila shots.) Indeed, all the Foster’s lager you find the United States is brewed in at the MillerCoors brewery in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s been that way since 2011, when parent company SABMiller bought its brand rights to the beer. And one New Yorker was so upset when he found this out that he sued MillerCoors.

However, Foster’s is also brewed at a facility in Manchester, England and likely other places around the world where it is popular (read: Not Australia). The beer is more popular in the UK than it is in Australia.

Fun fact: The beer is also not vegetarian friendly or vegan, according to Foster’s FAQ. Not sure why, but ewww. **EDIT** We will discuss this in further detail in our upcoming season, stay tuned!

 

 

Episode 5: A Style Spotlight of Syrah and India Pale Ale

Everything you need to know about Syrah and the indomitable IPA. OK, maybe not everything, but some good stuff.

Whatchu Drinkin?

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Trackers Crossing 2015 Shiraz: This a decent enough cheap bottle of Shiraz. It’s light red and slightly translucent, tastes of cherries and red plums with an oaky sweet finish. I was looking for a value over a high end wine (I paid 5 dollars for this Shiraz) because I used it in one of my favorite recipes – wine jelly!! Since you’re adding an ungodly amount of sugar and boiling the wine for the recipe I don’t suggest spending too much on a bottle, just grab a varietal you like! Great for parties and gifts this savory sweet jelly recipe is included below!

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Scorpion Bowl IPA by Stone Brewing Co.: Long a leader in the IPA movement, California-based Stone Brewing Co. is known for its hoppy beers. With this one, Stone was on trying to make a fruited IPA without using any fruit. The tropical and citrus notes in aroma and flavor come from the Loral, Mosaic and Mandarina hops used in the brew.

 

 

English IPA vs. American IPA

According to legend, the India pale ale was conceived in 17th century England. The beer makers of Burton on Trent were shipping beer to the British soldiers stationed in India, and to make sure the beer would keep by the time it arrived, brewers put in more hops than they used in a traditional English pale ale. (Hops contain certain acids and oils with preservative qualities.) The IPA was a little paler, bolder and stronger than the typical pale ale — and it was wildly popular.

Fast forward a couple centuries and fervor for the IPA hasn’t waned. In fact, it is the most popular beer style in America, according to Nielsen.

But the IPA of modern day tastes very different from the way it did when it was originally coined a style. Thanks to American brewers, the style received a makeover that took the hoppy and bitter aspects of the beer to an extreme.

The traditional English IPA is a light to medium-bodied beer that has a bitterness, but is overall well-balanced between it’s malty and hoppy characteristics. Specific English hops used in the style are low in alpha acids (bitterness), but highly aromatic. The American IPA is a super bold, in-your-face style that showcases its hop profile and is very bitter. It’s often darker in color and flavors can be off-putting to those not familiar with hops.

On the International Bitterness Units (IBU) scale, which measures a beer’s bitterness, English IPAs are generally between 40 and 60 IBUs. American IPAs range from 40 IBUs up above 100. Those on the higher end of the scale are said to “shock” or “wreck” the palate, meaning you might not be able to taste much after drinking one of these. They can have a similar effect to eating sour candies. (Info via the Beer Judging Certification Program style guidelines.)

The American IPA can be hard to peg, however. Brewers’ experimental spirits have pushed IPAs into several sub-genres, including West Coast IPA, New England IPA, fruited IPA, black IPA, imperial IPA and others.

For more reading on the oh-so-hot New England IPAs, see my recent story Is the beer haze craze just a phase? Texas brewers dish on the oh-so-popular New England IPA.

Syrah vs Shiraz

Much legend surrounds this humble grape – was it written of by Pliny the Elder, spread through the old world by the Romans, does it reign from an ancient Iranian city? Well as we learned from the podcast, DNA doesn’t lie! A study conducted in California in the 90’s led by Dr. Carole P. Meredith found that Syrah can trace its lineage back to the French Rhone-Alps region.

It’s unsure whether Syrah is the outcome of deliberate or accidental cross-fertilization, but we do know that it hails from parent grapes Mondeuse Blanche (from the Savoie region) and Dureza (from Ardeche). The grape came into its own during the 18th century and is still the top produced red grape in the Rhone Valley today.

So how did Syrah evolve into Shiraz? Well in truth it didn’t, they are the exact same grape. No one is really sure how Syrah got the new world name change. When horticulturalist James Busby brought the Syrah cuttings from France to Australia in the 1830s he labeled the vines Scyras and Ciras.

The vines were first planted in the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens (beautiful grounds I have been lucky enough to explore recently!) and spread through Hunter and Barossa Valley to become one of the top produced grapes in Australia. Some believe its a combination of the historical mislabeling of vines blended with the strong Australian accent with that shifted the fruit name.

As the vine gained ground through the new world into current day, the names Syrah and Shiraz speak largely to the style of the varietal being produced, regardless of where it’s from. If a wine is labeled Syrah buyers can expect to get a wine in the classic French or Old World style (acidic, earthy, and herbal). When the label reads Shiraz however, buyers can expect a more Australian or New World approach (typically rich, ripe, and fruit forward).

Wine Jelly Recipe

1 – 750ml Bottle of Wine (Red and white both work!)

1/2 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

1- 2oz Package of Dry Pectin

4 1/2 Cups White Sugar

Optional – Mulling Spices for Red Wine or Citrus Zest for White Wine

Combine wine, lemon juice, and pectin in a large pot, bring to a boil stirring frequently. Add sugar, stir until dissolved, and bring back to boil.

Boil hard for 1 minute stirring constantly, then remove from heat. If foam appears on top skim it off.

Pour or ladle warm jelly into sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top of jars. Tighten 2 piece lid and place in water bath for 5 minutes. Remove from water with tongs and cool on counter. (Click here for tips on canning in a water bath).

We use this recipe for party dips, marinades, and stuffing all the time – hope you enjoy!

Episode 4: Lone Star State of Intoxication

Welcome to Texas, y’all! Tiney and Laura offer a guided tour of their native state’s history with booze, the popular regions and cities, and personal brewery and winery recommendations.

Whatchu drinkin’?

IMG_8532Kvass by Jester King Brewery: This farmhouse ale is brewed with 300 pounds of miche rye bread from a bakery in Austin, Texas called Miche Bread. Kvass is a style defined by the use of bread in the mash bill and it offers an excellent alternative to throwing away the food when it’s past it prime to serve in its original form. This one has a funky, earthy, and rustic flavor profile. I describe it as having barnyard and bready characteristic in aroma with medium carbonation and a tart finish.

 

IMG_8529Becker Iconoclast 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon: Iconoclast is Beckers best selling wine, which is technically a Bordeaux style blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot) but Cabernet Sauvignon makes up the vast majority of the blend. This Texas wine goes down easy with violets, vanilla, baking spices, and dried cherries on the nose, followed by dark berries, plums, and coffee on the palate. Great example of a Texas cab!

History of Beer

The Texas State Historical Association is rife with info on Texas’ brewing culture, which basically starts with the German immigrants. It credits William Menger’s Western Brewery on the Alamo Square in San Antonio as the first commercial brewery in the state, having opening in 1878.

Shiner is likely the most popular Texas beer. It’s made at the Spoetzal Brewery, was which opened in 1909 by Shiner-based businessmen trying to appeal to the German immigrants. The brewery’s name was different then, because shortly thereafter, an immigrant named Kosmas Spoetzal purchased it. Its signature beer is Shiner Bock, which was first brewed in 1913.

Tiney’s North Texas beer recommendations:

  1. Mosaic IPA by Community Beer Co.: This is my favorite locally-brewed IPA. It’s a dark amber color with a high level of malty flavor. It’s delicious, but watch out — 8% alcohol content, it’s can sneak up on you.
  2. Peticolas Brewing Co. in Dallas is one of the city’s best breweries. It’s a beer nerd’s dream serving more than a dozen different recipes. The beers are predominantly no-frills, classic styles, though some of them, like the flagship Velvet Hammer imperial red ale, showcase Peticolas’ unique personality. Peticolas only serves its beer on draft, so you can imbibe it at the brewery or one of the many beer bars in Dallas-Fort Worth.
  3. Houston is home to one of Texas’ oldest and most prestigious craft breweries, Saint Arnold Brewing Co. I’ve never visited, but I would really like to.

History of Wine

The first time we see wine being cultivated in Texas is around 1650 in El Paso where Spanish missionaries are planting grapes to make sacramental wine. That’s about 100 years earlier than California was planting! Just like we see in European history, wine spread with religion and missionaries through the country. Prohibition in the United States lasted from 1920-1933 and decimated booze business nationwide, with only the largest, wealthiest producers and some sacramental producers surviving. Revival in winemaking kicked up across the country in the 1970s, and really gained momentum after the Judgement of Paris, a blind taste test in Paris that ranked California wines as some of the top in the world!

Llano Estacado is one of the first major players to bring Texas back in the wine scene after they opened in 1976, and they’re now the second largest producer in the state (behind the University of Texas/St.Genevieve). Mesilla Valley was the first recognized AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Texas, although most of the AVA is located in New Mexico. The first full viticultural area located in Texas, Bell Mountain, wasn’t founded until 1986 (Laura’s birth year!). The largest AVA located in Texas, Texas Hill Country, was designated in 1991, it is also the second largest AVA in the country although only ~1,100 acres are occupied by vineyards. There are over 200 wineries across the state of Texas, and more on the way!

Top grapes produced in Texas include, but are not limited to, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Black Spanish (Lenoir), Viognier, Muscat, Blanc de Bois, and Syrah.  

TV Munson Nursery Catalog

Undoubtedly one of my wine AND Texas heros, TV Munson has made several appearances in our podcast episodes. He made invaluable contributions to wine and botany through his travels and journals depicting native American vines, but supported his family through his nursery business in Denison, TX. This week’s episode I mention that while in class at his namesake school I got to see one of the original catalogs from ~1876!! It is obviously a little old to handle, so the listings inside are photocopies made when Professor Snyder originally purchased the catalog.

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Texas Wine Regions:

Follow these links to learn more about each of the Texas American Viticultural Area!

Texas High Plains

Texas Hill Country

Fredericksburg

Escondido

The Bell Mountain

Davis Mountain

Mesilla Valley

Texoma

Lots of great Texas wine infographics available here. And if you’re looking for a detailed and definitive list of wineries in Texas check this site out!

Resources:

Texas State Historical Association

https://txwinelover.com/texas-wineries-map/

https://www.houstonpress.com/restaurants/infographic-all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-texas-wine-and-more-6422587