Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beer Review: Murray's Icon 2IPA

The Murray's Icon 2IPA is one of the beers I purchased to drink while watching the 2008 New Zealand election. According to my beer dealer, only a pallet of this beer has been made, so the one I drank for this review could be the only one I ever taste (and you may never taste it).

It's a big 7.5% alc/vol and brewed in Taylors Arm north of Sydney, New South Wales.

What the bottle says

"At Murray's, we handcraft the beers we love to drink. Our Icon 2IPA is an extreme beer thats BIG on flavour and aroma. This is not a beer for the faint-hearted. Drink on its own if you dare, but pairs well with intensely hot and spicy foods."

It doesn't say much about the actual beer, just bad punctuation and sentence structure. I drunk this without food, but the strong hoppy flavour would probably work well with a spicy dish.


The beer is a dark amber brown with a golden glow when held up to the light. The head is soft and white.


The aroma is classic for a strong hoppy beer and the hops dominate as soon as it is poured.


This is a strong beer with a hoppy and piney taste. Following the hops, the malts have a strong burnt caramel flavour. The beer leaves a very subtle sourness at the front of the mouth. The (very) high alcohol content didn't do too much to the flavour, although its very (pleasantly) dry. All in all, the Icon 2IPA is a strong beer with strong flavour.

Mouth feel

The mouth feel is smooth and creamy but with a bit of a sharp bite at the end of the tongue.


If you like hops, you shall like this beer. It is very dry. It reminded me more of an APA rather than an IPA. If I see it again I will likely give it another go. 7/10.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tea review: Puerh

Pu-erh style tea is a post-fermented tea, kind of like a black tea but not really. It can be aged for several years and is often found as the tea that does the rounds in Yum Cha restaurants and dumpling houses. I purchased this particular tea from T2.

What the box says

"This tea is highly prized in China as a digestive aid and health 'tonic'. Low in tannins with an earthy flavour."

I agree, it is an enjoyable postprandial tea, more for its refreshing and cleansing nature then as any noticeable aid to digestion. There is not much danger from getting too tanniny either, its hard to stuff up the brew and is probably why it is often used as a compliment to yum cha or dumpling dining.

Brewing process

I let the boiling water cool for about 20 - 30 seconds in the jug (water temp about 90 degrees Celsius) before pouring directly onto the leaves. I use 2 teaspoons of tea for a three cup pot. I prefer the taste after about 2 minutes brewing, but if left longer it will not ruin the tea, the smokiness will just increase.

Finally, I let the tea cool until quaffable as it is a good tea with which to swallow a large mouthful and roll it around the mouth.

Appearance and Smell

Brewed as above and in a glass teacup, the tea appears a dark burnt orange brown colour. It can be very dark, almost black in the teapot.

The leaves smell like the New Zealand bush, a kind of pleasant decomposing wood matter smell (it sounds horrible, but is actually quite nice). It also has quite a noticeable smell once brewed, a light charcoal aroma.

Taste and Mouthfeel

Again it is a light smoky flavour that dominates, with a subtle woody taste. It is a very light, pleasant and refreshing taste overall. There is a subtle sweetness that appears if you roll it around in your mouth.

Feels very cleansing in the mouth but leaves a pleasant gritty feel. It is a very refreshing, very cleansing.


I love this tea. It is a versatile tea that I can drink first thing in the morning to wash away the night, in the afternoon to pick me up, or early evening after dinner. It is refreshing with a subtle woody smokey flavour that I have not tasted in any other type of tea. It is unique and delicious. 8.5/10

Monday, November 3, 2008

Caffe Sienna

Caffe Sienna is located on Chapel St in Prahran. We had just jumped off the tram on the corner of Commercial Rd and Chapel St and were looking for a cafe/bar in which to have lunch and a drink.

About Caffe Sienna

Walking up Chapel St, Caffe Sienna jumped straight out as a very popular place. It was packed. There were many tables out on the footpath and the front part of the cafe was open to the outside. We got a table right in the front of the open air corner, which was nice.

Other then the nice open feel, the setting was rather standard. Plain tables and chairs and nothing special on the walls. Michael Jackson's "Beat It" was playing when we sat down and was followed by, among others, "Billy Jean" and "Thriller". There was no particular clientele; there were a few people having a beer, some families and some older people.

What we ate

I ordered kransky sausages with a spicy capsicum and tomato sauce on sour dough. The sauce was very good, the sausages a bit conservative for kransky. It was reasonably priced at $15.50 for the entree size.

Dawn went for a magharita pizza. It was quite large for an entree size, very cheesy and delicious. Base was thin and very good. Priced at $13.90.

The rest of the menu included pizza, pasta and Italian style mains. Something to suit everyone.

What we drunk

The beer selection was poor. The only beer I could bring myself to drink was an Asahi. Other beers included the standard macro Australian and mainstream beers (James Boag, Cascade, VB) and the usual international lagers (Heineken, Stella, Peroni, Asahi). The Asahi set me back $7.90.

Dawn had a glass of the Tin Cows Pinot Noir. A Yarra Valley pinot noir. This was a pleasant, reasonably heavy pinot. Given the heat, a lighter style of wine might have been more appropriate. The wine list was conventional for cafe fare. The Tin Cows cost $8.50 a glass.


Mark says: "Nice and airy atmosphere. Decent food. Average beer. Felt it was a touch overpriced for what the food was but that was made up for in the location." 6.5/10

Dawn says: "Conventional Italian bar / cafe food but well executed. No surprises. A safe bet for an unadventurous but nice lunch with the folks. I would take my mum for lunch there after shopping in Prahran." 7/10

Sunday, November 2, 2008

St Ali

St Ali is located in South Melbourne (click for google maps) on the street behind the Coles on Clarendon St. It is a little cafe that specialises in coffee with a nondescript whitewashed exterior and old wooden school chairs flanking the entrance. We read about St Ali in the Age Cheap Eats guide and have had a coffee and pastry on the way home from the markets before.

About St Ali

The first thing that struck me was the smell of coffee and eggs. In for a late breakfast on a Saturday, we sat at a long high bench next to the wall covered in old coffee bean sacks. Set in an old warehouse, it has a rugged, rustic feel. Most of the chairs are wooden and look secondhand 70s schoolhouse. The atmosphere was relaxed and staff friendly. It was packed, lots of twenty somethings, a few who had dragged their parents along for a 'hip brunch'.

St Ali does full table service. The food was a little slow to come but the place was packed and my coffee came fast.

What we ate

I ordered the organic poached eggs on pide with haloumi, cherry tomato, fresh mint and dukkah, served with red onion jam. The eggs were fantastically rich and the mint and onion flavours came through strongly. It worked extremely well and was an interesting twist on the poached egg breakfast for under $14.

Dawn had a Lebanese pizza with bacon, eggs, spinach, chili and sun dried tomato paste folded over to make a sandwich type dish. Unfortunately, the chef was a little to liberal with the chili, which kind of ruined it for her. I ending up eating half of it and had to agree, way too much chili for breakfast. Still, if you are after something with a bit of a kick it would be reasonable. Once again, under $14.

Dawn finished up with a chocolate chip brioche. It was very pleasant, but as she said, "you can't really go wrong with a brioche".

What we drunk

I started off with a cappuccino topped with cinnamon. Very nice and smooth. You can drill down and select you bean and roast, but I just stuck with selecting the preparation. I finished off with a long macchiato, it had the little bit of a sharp and bitter aftertaste I have come to expect from coffee in Australia (which is especially apparent in less milky coffee) but was quite reasonable.


Mark says: "It has a pleasant laid back atmosphere and a fantastic coffee and egg smell. The food has an interesting twist on traditional breakfast and the coffee is good. It is also quite affordable." 8/10

Dawn says: "Nice cafe, good atmosphere, friendly service. A bit fashionable but not unwelcoming. The menu looked appetising, although my selection did not really hit the mark." 7/10