Sunday, 5 August 2012

Lobo - The Crabby 2011

Lobo – The Crabby 2011
The Crabby is an initiative brought about by the good fellows at Lobo in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia (Visit for the past review on the Lobo Royale 2010). The cider is part of the new Lobo EXP range which is a group of small batched, experimental brews produced to push the boundaries. The Lobo EXP collection consists of The Crabby, a Perry and a dry kegged cider with all having different and/or unusual ways of production. You can’t help but be super interested and intrigued when they claim, “We like to try new things out and some things work better than others”. So immediately I was on the hunt to track The Crabby down and see what she had to offer.

As the name suggests, The Crabby is made using crab apples which are noted for their smaller size and extreme tartness. They also have a decent amount of textural tannin, which an eating apple lacks. Just like traditional cider apples, crab's are fairly inedible, however they do make great jelly. Basically what the humble eating apple lacks in terms of tannin structure and higher acidity, could potentially be made up by the crab apples.  

Crab Apples
The Crabby is a blend of crab apples, cider apples and eating apples which makes for an interesting drinking experience. The crab and cider apples are blended with Bonza, Jonathon and macerated Red Delicious eating apples. A more unknown variety called Winter Banana is also used and is know for its aromatics, and good acid crispness. There really are some hidden gems up in those Adelaide Hills!  Along with the differing apple varieties, this cider again follows the traditional Lobo style of being unfiltered, naturally carbonated, wildly fermented and unsulphured.

The cider itself has a nice yellow/orange tinge, and is beautifully cloudy in the glass. The tighter, more compact bubble of the natural carbonation foams up softly when poured. Nose wise, it gives off a real raw green character, almost to the point that you know it’s going to be tart. Up front volatile notes of ethyl acetate (nail polish remover) hit you with over ripe green apples following closely behind. This volatile note is mostly likely the result of the wild ferment which Lobo tend to favour, as more unpredictable results are achieved in the final cider (where naturally occurring yeasts are used as apposed to cultured yeast). If done correctly, the wild yeasts present on the fruit can produce more complex and interesting flavours and aromas, than the ones made by commercial strains. But on the flip side, there are dire consequences for the cider in terms of consistency if the corrects measures are not achieved. So it’s a balancing game, and the wild yeast characters are evident in this cider. The nose finishes off with subtle hints of sour sobs and green apple aldehyde. Overall, you know this cider is raw, green and a little bit different.

Acid alert!! As expected, there is a bucket load of lean tartness and sourness. It’s really quite offensive and sharp at first. Your palate really needs time to adjust to the tooth enamel destroying level of acidity. This may be a case of ‘gone too far’ with the crab apples, as the acid can become quite intolerable and give some serious heart burn! To the palates credit, there is just enough residual sugar to make it all bearable. There is evidence of the cider apples, with nice honeyed characters coming though. The palate did lack one fundamental component which was very disappointing and that was tannin. You would think the tannin profile would be fairly ‘in you face’ as such, but it was not as prominent as was first hoped. The back palate was also quite warm from the higher 6.7% alcohol. Basically, the palate was one huge acid bomb which is more focused towards consuming with food, than by itself.

Overall this cider did not live up to its expectations. The balance was all over the place, and quite confused. It’s a shame, as Lobo really push themselves in terms of innovation and making fantastic products. The idea is there - yes, and they ‘had fun’ doing it, but maybe this experiment should have stayed in house and more finely tuned? The cider could really be a great and somewhat unique drink if done right. It will not be to everyone’s tastes, and their standard cider and Royale are far better products, but at least Lobo is trying something new.  

Producer: Lobo Juice and Cider Pty Ltd
Country: Australia (Adelaide Hills, South Australia)
Alcohol: 6.7%

Rating: 6 out 10


* Picture taken from

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