July 14, 2014

Man in search of beer in America: Part Three -- New Jersey

After Washington, DC, Trudy and I parted company; she flying to her brother Danny in Cleveland and I taking a bus north to Atlantic City, New Jersey.  I was going to meet my friend Delia who has a home on Long Beach Island in central New Jersey with her husband Dr. John Edoga, a surgeon and medical equipment developer.  Our friendship goes back almost 50 years.

The Atlantic City boardwalk.
I met Delia on the boardwalk, which for me was a nostalgic stroll back to Rockaway, New York, where my family spent our summers in the 1950s.

Blue Point's Toasted Lager.
We went to have lunch in the middle of all the casino-hotels.  The restaurant had a pretty weak list of craft beers and I think I chose the best -- Toasted Lager from the aforementioned Blue Point Brewing Company in Patchogue, New York.  My friend and drinking buddy Len (more of whom later) says it's one of his favorite beers.  I thought it was a perfectly refreshing beer for such a hot day, while Delia and I caught up on what was going on in our lives.


Toasted Lager gets its name from the "toastiness" of the six malts used in the brewing.  It was hard for me to pick out a toasted flavor, but I was impressed by the nice balance between hops and malt.  At 5.5% ABV, it was an easy beer to enjoy on a hot day, and went surprisingly well with our salads.           

Delia's house was well stocked with wine and booze, but alas, no beer around.  We spent the day talking like we always do and staying mellow in and out of the sun.

Delia and the old beer blogger on
Long Beach Island, New Jersey.
The next morning we took a long walk along the beautiful beach on the eastern side of the island, drinking . . . coffee.

Before I continued north by bus, we had lunch in a lovely restaurant along the island's one main road.  They had some interesting craft beers on tap, which were described by the friendly waiter.

I chose the Route 113 IPA from the Sly Fox Brewing Company in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.  I found out later that the name is derived from the bitterness units (IBUs) which are an outrageous 113!

But as soon as I took my first sip, I was sure that something was wrong.  The IBUs weren't even 30 -- and this was not an IPA, certainly not one with 7% alcohol and advertised as "big, flavorful, bold and spicy."

Route 113 IPA -- NOT!
I called over the waiter and told him (without sounding like a beer snob, I hope) that there must have been a mistake; perhaps this was drawn from the wrong tap.  He assured me it wasn't and that I could go up to the bar and see for myself.  Delia told the waiter, "You don't want to argue with him.  He writes a beer blog."  That felt good.

Of course I went up to the bar.  The tender gave me a taste from the Sly Fox tap and it was the same.

"Nope," I said.  "They must have mixed up the kegs.  This is not an IPA."

I asked the bartender to let me have a taste of the one-tap-over Torpedo IPA (7.2% ABV, 65 IBUs) from Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California.

"Now that's an IPA," I told him.  "Have a sip and you'll see the difference."

"Yeah.  You're right," he said.  That felt good too.

After we finished eating, Delia got me over to the New York City bus one-and-a-half minutes before it left.  You could say we either planned it perfectly, or got lost and were just lucky.  Either way, I was soon on the road to my final destination -- the Big Apple, New York City.
All of our Nitro beers both contain the same ingredients as their classic CO2 equivalents and are meant to be highly similar. The main difference is mouthfeel. Traditional CO2 beers have a much greater carbonic bite compared to the much smoother Nitro series. The addition of Nitrogen to a beer gives way to much smaller bubbles, creating a smoother, creamier experience. Beyond mouthfeel, there are variances in appearance and smell as well. Take Classic Milk Stout and Milk Stout Nitro. Visually, you will notice that as you pour Classic Milk Stout, it behaves like a normal beer with an instantaneous mahogany body and receding taupe head. As you hard pour Milk Stout Nitro, the beer will immediately begin to cascade, settling to reveal the body and developing a thick, billowy, off white head on top. In regards to smell and taste, Classic Milk Stout overall has a greater nose, as well as a more roasty character and a very slight hop bitterness. Milk Stout Nitro has a more creamy mocha essence throughout the beer, with no noticeable hop element.
Which is the best? That is entirely up to you and we encourage everyone to try Sawtooth Nitro and Wake Up Dead Nitro alongside their CO2 editions as well! As our VP of Brewing Operations, Joe Schiraldi says, “It’s a great exercise in how changing one parameter can affect the flavor of the beer.” Cheers and enjoy!
- See more at: http://lefthandbrewing.com/about/nitro/#sthash.DD6kQVrj.dpuf









  • Collection: Perennial
  • Style: All-American Ale
  • Color: Amber, 16 SRM
  • Body: Medium
  • ABV: 5.3%
  • IBU's: 27
  • PLATO: 12°
  • PKG: 6-Pack, Keg
  • Malt: Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich Wheat and Black Malt
  • Hops: Magnum, US Goldings, Willamette and Cascade
  • - See more at: http://lefthandbrewing.com/beers/sawtooth-nitro/#sthash.UeX9ZyHh.dpuf

    July 13, 2014

    Dizengoff Center Beer Fair -- July 17-18



    This may be of interest to some readers: 

    The Dizengoff Center shopping mall in Tel Aviv has been having "food fairs" for its shoppers every Thursday and Friday for the past 17 years. This week there will also be a "boutique beer fair" so the shoppers will be able to have some great beer while they eat.

    The boutique beer fair will take place:
    Thursday, July 17, 4:00 to 9:00 pm
    Friday, July 18, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

    Naama Polak, who is responsible for the Dizengoff Center fairs, told me that this is the third boutique beer fair being held there.  Entrance is free.  The following breweries will have booths: Mosco, Alexander, Meadan Gluten-Free, Shapiro, Golan (Bazelet), Jem's, Lela and Gopher's.
    In addition, there will be workshops on home-brewing going on at the same time. For more information, you can call Naama at 057-239-2491.


    I'm not going because, well, it's a bit of a shlepp for me and there's really nothing new. But if you're in the area and would like to have a nice choice of some good Israeli craft beers along with some interesting food (I guess), you might want to stop in. Let me know how you like it.

    June 30, 2014

    Man in search of beer in America: Part Two -- Washington, DC

    Leaving my mother in good hands, Trudy and I flew up to Washington DC to spend a few days with our son Ami, who's been living in this city since 2007.  Ami's apartment is in the dynamic and trendy Adams Morgan neighborhood, filled with little specialty shops and all kinds of restaurants and pubs.  Some have impressive craft beer menus, but since it was close to Shabbat, we went out to a local liquor store to bring home a few bottles.   
    "Sorry!  No single-bottle sales."
    
    The store, De Vinos, had more than 100 different beers -- but we hit a hurdle right off.

    "We don't sell the small single bottles," said the attendant.  "You have to buy the whole six-pack."

    "But these are craft beers," I responded.  "What if you want to try a few different ones?"

    "Sorry."

    Only in America.  You have to buy six bottles of a beer you don't know and may not even like!  I began to miss the super supermarket in Florida, with its single bottle mixing and matching.  Don't retailers realize that this may be a better way to sell craft beers?

    The one way out was to buy the bigger bottles, those of one pint (473 milliliters) or more.  We chose the Whiter Shade of Pale Ale White IPA from Starr Hill Brewery in Crozlet, Virginia, and Red Wheelbarrow Ale from the Maine Beer Company in Freeport, Maine.     
    
    We come for the beer:
    Doug, Trudy and Ami in the nation's capital.
    The Whiter Shade accompanied our Shabbat lunch, and once again it was a great choice.  This beer is a very successful fusion of a Belgian wit wheat ale and an Indian pale ale, with 7.5% alcohol.  It's massively hopped and has strong citrus and pine aromas.  I imagined that the beautiful white head smelled just like the fields or forests where the fresh hop clusters grow.  Belgian wheat beer adds the very dramatic fruity and spicy flavors.  If you're any kind of an IPA fan, this beer should be on your "must try" list.

    The Red Wheelbarrow Ale is also a beauty.  Although it's called a red ale and not an IPA, it comes awfully close.  The deep red-copper color and red-tinged head are not indicative of IPA's, true, but the hop-heavy aroma and taste, and the 7% ABV certainly are.  There is also a chocolaty sweetness that I found different and delicious.

    The Maine Beer Company does a lot or ecological-friendly activities, to their credit, and their slogan is "Do it right."  In this case, they certainly have.

    Ami with his pale wheat;
    me with my dark rye IPA.
    On Saturday night, we took Ami out to eat at a so-called "small plate" Italian restaurant.  "Skimpy portions" is more like it.  Getting into the spirit of things, we ordered small glasses (10 ounces or 295 milliliters) of beer.

    I chose the Rowdy Rye IPA from the local Atlas Brew Works in Washington, DC.  It poured very dark and tasted very bitter as an IPA should be, with a 6.2% ABV.  The hoppiness was also there but the rye replaces the floral scents and spice you expect in an IPA.  It's almost as if there isn't room for both.  This was a pleasant change for me, since I thoroughly enjoy the taste of rye whisky -- not to mention rye bread.

    Ami had Optimal Wit from Port City Brewery in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.  It was as pale and transparent as Rowdy IPA was dark and opaque.  This is beer in the Belgian wit style, and brewed with the prerequisite coriander, orange peel and peppery grains of paradise.  It had a distinctively lemony taste alongside clove and grassy tones.  It's a wheat beer that flaunts its wheatiness, but I don't think I would have ordered it with pasta.

    Ethiopia's St. George:
    rich and tasty brew.
    Before we left Washington, we took Ami and Trudy's niece Marcia out to one of the many Ethiopian restaurants in the city.  I find Ethiopian food to be a lot like Indian, and we ordered a large vegetarian platter.  It was served with mounds of the flat and spongy injera bread made from teff, which you use like a scoop to eat the food. 

    What better way to accompany Ethiopian food than with Ethiopian beer?  We ordered a bottle of St. George.  Although it is an industrial beer from somewhere in Ethiopia (most of the label was in Amharic), it was actually a rich and tasty brew, going well with our strong, spicy food.

    If Ethiopia could do it, why couldn't American "big beer" like Budweiser and Coor's be this good?  St. George was actually closer to Israeli-made Goldstar and Tuborg.  Maybe that's why I was getting a little bit homesick.  But I had two more states to cross before heading back to Israel.

    June 24, 2014

    Man in search of beer in America: Part One -- Southern Florida

    Your intrepid Israeli beer seeker flew towards the western skies on June 8.  The trip was planned for a while but it took on urgency when my 96-year-old mother in southern Florida suffered a very minor stroke around a month ago.  It left her needing round-the-clock assistance, which Trudy and I were able to arrange.

    The shelves of American craft beers:
    Mix and match six-packs for $9.99.
    Anyway, in between interviewing aid-givers and keeping house, I was able to get out and see some of the effects of the craft beer upsurge in America.

    One of the super supermarkets had an entire wall of single bottles of craft beers, and a huge refrigerated section of beers in six-packs and twelve-packs.  Beers from the four corners of America and beyond.  The single-bottle wall let you pick any six beers for $9.99!

    I chose three different style beers to drink at home -- my mother's home, that is.

    The first was Shiner FM 966 Farmhouse Ale from Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas.  The interesting label informed me that farmhouse ale is from a European tradition of brewing beers in the winter for drinking in the spring.

    I think I might have missed the right spring by several years.  FM 966 had the color and fizz of ginger ale.  The aromas were hoppy, spicy and grassy -- but the dominant taste was sour. The bitterness of the hops -- listed on the label as Golding, Sterling and Meridian -- just weren't able to counteract the sourness.  This is a beer I did not enjoy.

    Things got better with the second beer, which we drank with Shabbat lunch: Hoptical Illusion from the Blue Point Brewing Co. in Patchogue, Long Island, New York.  I visited Blue Point several years ago on a visit to the U.S.  They have a beautiful Friday afternoon beer party (which we called a kabbalat Shabbat, a welcoming of the Sabbath), when you can drink three of their great beers for free and then buy some more.

    Hoptical Illusion is a classical India Pale Ale (no ABV was given), with a delicious balance of hops and floral spicyness.  It enhanced the taste of our food, and of the entire day.

    Ice cold six- and twelve- and 
    twenty-four-packs.
    I tried to imagine the British soldiers in 19th century India enjoying beer this good, but I couldn't do it. No way.  Hoptical Illusion is IPA which has evolved in the New World, spurred on by American ingenuity and magnitude.

    My third bottle was Southern Pecan, "the original pecan nut brown ale," from the Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. in Kiln, Mississippi.  The label claims it's the first beer made with whole, roasted pecans.

    Southern Pecan pours out dark copper with a thin head and, really, a nutty aroma.  I found it to be a bit on the sweet side but a delicious beer.  I couldn't find any pecan taste; I guess the pecans ferment into a neutral nuttiness.  But it was a truly interesting and awareness enhancing beer drinking experience.

    When we visited my cousin Debi, her husband Jerry served us Sam Adams Summer Ale and Boston Lager.  I preferred the latter, a rich and satisfying dark amber which to my mind redeems the "lager" appellation from the indignity caused by the mega macro brewers of American pale lagers.

    The Summer Ale tries too hard to suit itself to the season.  This wheat ale has nothing special to say, even though it it's made with added lemon peel and grains of paradise, a kind of African pepper.  I found it a little acrid.

    I had one more beer before leaving Florida.  When we ate at the California Pizza Kitchen, the Blue Moon Brewing Company's flagship beer, their Belgian White wheat ale, was offered as a draft choice.  It was just one more nondescript wheat ale that I drank along the way -- though it did go well with the salad and pizza we had.

    My search for American craft beer would now have to continue at my next stop, Washington DC.          

    June 8, 2014

    2014 Israel beer festivals -- Update

    As June busts out all over, we decided it was time to take another look at what this summer holds for us faithful followers of beer festivals.  Since I last wrote on the subject back at the start of the year, some dates have been confirmed, though still not all.

    Let's begin close to home, in Jerusalem.

    The ghosts of beer festivals past.
    Jerusalem Beer Festival - "Ir Habira" -- August 27-28 in Independence Park.  Organizer/Producer Eli Giladi says that this will be the tenth festival in Jerusalem, and it will be bigger and better than ever.  "We are investing a lot of money to make this the greatest," says Eli, including food and music.  Jerusalem bars and restaurants will be offering specials during the week of the festival.  All of the bigger names on the Israeli beer scene -- industrial brewers, craft brewers and imports -- are already signed on, according to Eli, and the newer and smaller brewers will also have a chance to display and offer their wares.  He promises that over 120 beers from Israel and abroad will be available.

    Eli said that if any smaller or home brewer still wants to join, they can send him an e-mail at giladi007@gmail.com

    Tel Aviv "BEERS 2014" Exhibit -- September 9-11 at the Train Station (HaTachana) in Neve Tzedek. 
    This location is a great improvement over the Nokia Center, where previous BEERS exhibits have been held.  It was more like a stuffy trade show than a beer festival.  Moving it from the dead of winter to the end of summer is also a great idea.  The information came from the Ben-Ami Studio which produces the BEERS exhibits.   
      
    Mateh Yehuda Rustic Beer Festival -- Still no final date yet, but Chani Ben-Yehuda, who is responsible for festivals and events at the Tzlilei Hakesem company, which is organizing the event, says that it will take place at the Mini Israel Park in Latrun at the end of August or the start of September.  This will also be a new venue, as the festival has been held until now at the crossroads of Srigim and Givat Yeshayahu.

    With Ofer Ronen of Srigim Brewery
    at Zman Amiti.
    Beer City Festival in Haifa -- August 21-22 at Students Beach.  After getting the run around from a number of offices in Haifa, I was finally able to obtain the information from Polina Charnovelsky from the "Customer Relations" Office in the Cultural Department of the Haifa Municipality.  This one is the biggest festival with free admission and first-string musical performers, but it's sponsored by Goldstar and Maccabi beer, so don't expect any Israeli craft beers to be served.              
     
    In addition to these major festivals, there will probably be some smaller, local ones going on later this year.  If I hear about any, I will let you know.

    The Zman Amiti mini beer festival.
    I myself attended two in recent months.  The first was the Fifth Zman Amiti Beer Festival, held at the Zman Amiti bar tending school in Tel Aviv just before Passover.  It was a small affair, held inside the building.  I enjoyed meeting or re-meeting some of the bigger brewers, as well as some of the smaller ones like Baron (Lior Degabli), HaChatzer (Yochai Meytal) and Lanner (Boaz Lanner).  I hope to write about them all.

    A few weeks ago, I went out to Modi'in where my son Aharon lives with his family, for an even smaller "brewers festival" held just outside the More Than Pub in the new Ligad Center.

    There were no more than a dozen exhibitors, most of them on the smaller end of the spectrum.  I finally met home brewer Noam Shalev who lives in Modi'in and makes sour beers under the Shibolet label.  Alas, because of my failure to communicate, Noam didn't bring any of his beers with him, so I'll have to wait until next time to get to drink them.

    With Noam Shalev in Modi'in:
    Next time I get to taste his beers.
    Boaz Harel, from Three Cats Brewery in Ramat Gan, brought me two bottles of a British porter which he brewed according to a recipe from 1834!  One was brewed as it would have been at that time, and the other as a porter is brewed today.  I will do a comparison tasting of the two and report on that.  I thank Boaz for his gifts and his patience.  

    I also met Levi Fried, a physician whose passion is home brewing.  He served me his Chocolate Porter, which was made with real cocoa nibs and had the most creamy chocolate taste I have ever experienced in a beer.

    A few steps away, Roni Waldman of Ruth Brewery (named after his wife) served me his Coffee Break Porter, made with roasted coffee beans.  Here too, the coffee taste didn't have to be imagined.  It was real and bitter, yet beautifully balanced by the malt sweetness.

    I'm going to do my best to attend all the festivals I can.  If you notice me walking around, step up and say hello.  That's what beer festivals are for.

    Tonight, Trudy and I are flying to the U.S. for some family and friends visits over the next three weeks or so.  It's also a great chance for us to try some American craft beers.  If I can do some writing from there, I will.  If not, it will wait until I return.  In the meantime -- A wonderful summer to all!

    June 3, 2014

    Chuck's Place on Teverya Street

    Chuck's home is his bar.

    Well, so is mine, sometimes.  But he can open the front gate, hang up a shingle, and it becomes a public house.  I still can't do that.

    Chuck and me at his "home & bar."
    Chuck Paz has set up a few eclectic tables, chairs and sofas in his front yard, makes burgers and fries in his kitchen, and pumps beer out of a tap in his refrigerator.  Different chefs in the neighborhood may add pizza and soft pretzels.  Meat ands dairy are not served on the same night. 

    "We call this place a 'home & bar,'" chuckles Chuck.  "Most of my customers are friends and neighbors," he says, referring to his Nachlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem.  "During the warmer months, I'm open on Thursday nights, my 'Thirsty Thursdays.'  I also open on special holidays like Lag BaOmer and Jerusalem Day. . . ."

    Above the bar is a notice that Chuck's Place is "under rabbinical supervision."  "That would be me," he says.  "Years ago, when I was living in Efrat, I was ordained a rabbi."  

    Chuck came to Israel from Chicago 13 years ago and started home brewing because he didn't like any of the standard Israeli beers that were available at the time.   

    Baruch Berabooah
    He began working at his current location (17 Teverya Street) five years ago, making sushi and brewing beer for a friend's establishment.  The friend's name was Baruch, which is also Chuck's Hebrew name, so people began calling them Baruch BeRabooah ("Baruch Squared") and the name stuck.  It's now his Facebook name and logo.      

    "The first two beers I brewed were a honey lager and a red ale," Chuck continued.  As luck would have it, those were two of the beers Chuck was serving when I visited.

    The honey lager was one of two that he makes, this one called Honey Bru.  It was less sweet and less hoppy than the other beers.  Chuck adds the honey right after flame-out, just when the fermentation process begins, so it has a long time to become food for the yeast.  The alcohol goes up (6.7%), but not the sweetness.  I found it a pleasant summer drink, not very hoppy, maybe some light spice and fruits to keep in interesting, but the honey is all gone.

    Chuck's brand: Teverya Street Beer.
    Honey is a popular ingredient with home brewers, since it is full or pollens and nectars from the flowers, which can add subtle aromas to the beer.  Even President Obama has been brewing a honey ale in the White House since 2011!  (Look up White House Honey Ale if you think I'm joking.)  Opinions vary on when the honey should be added to the mix, but that's another story.

    The red ale I thought was less defined, although somewhat sweeter than the honey lager.  It fits in the category of American amber and red ales very comfortably.  The malts and hops are well matched, with the malts winning by a nose.      

    Chuck was also pumping a third beer that day -- a pilsner, which was my favorite, with the classic pils crispness, extensive fruity and hoppy aromas, and the taste of blended citrus fruits.  At 4.5% ABV, I can see myself drinking a lot of this stuff on a hot summer's day.

    Chuck also brews a stronger honey lager (Honey Blaze at 7% ABV), an amber ale, and a bock. 

    Chuck hopes that he will soon be taking his talents to a restaurant, where he will, in effect, turn it into a brew pub with his beers.  He is working on developing several new beers for the restaurant, one of which is a "Mexican-type beer," though it's not clear exactly what that means.
    The view from Chuck's gate.
    When I asked Chuck to be more specific about his beers, he answered with what is probably his "mission statement" as a home brewer: 

    "With all my beers, I am trying to make an American-style beer that I grew up with. I really don't do anything that special when I brew. Put all the ingredients in the pot and cook them. Then once it is cooled I put it in the fermenter, add the yeast, and God takes over from there.  Walla, 16 days later the beer is ready to drink.
    "I am just a simple man who likes making beer and drinking it. The beers speak for themselves; you just have to drink them. Maybe the one special thing I put in to my beers is love and caring for the beer I am producing."

    Nothing wrong with that.  If you'd like to drink some different home brews on a hot Thursday night, drop into Chuck's Place.  (Check first on his Facebook page: Baruch BeRabooah Fan Page.)  Tell him I sent you.  

    May 26, 2014

    Golan Brewery double bock comparison: Bazelet vs Og Alon

    The Golan Brewery in Katzrin, the capital of the Golan Heights, was one of the first and is one of the more established craft breweries in Israel.  It's hard to call it "micro" when it is planning this year to top production of 300,000 liters.  Opened in 2006, Golan changed its brand name to Bazelet in 2009 when the famous Golan Winery joined them as a partner, bringing in professionalism, capital investment, marketing savvy, and proven sales.

    The Golan Brewery today markets four beers under the Bazelet label: Wheat (5.1% ale), Pilsner (4.9% lager), Double Bock (8% lager), and Amber (6.4% ale).  They also brew seasonal beers under the Og brand.  (Og was the Biblical king of Bashan which was on the Golan.)  Og beers are sold in distinctive squat bottles of 330 milliliters.  The styles have included Og Keitzi, a summer pale ale, Og Wheat Double Bock, Og Gingi, a red lager, and Og Alon, a double bock lager aged in oak.

    This last one is what got me interested.  Why brew a seasonal double bock when there's already one in your regular line?

    Bazelet double
    bock vs . . .
    Og Alon
    I put the question to Michael Giladi, the Belgium-born new brewery manager.  "Even though they're both double bock styles, they're very different beers," Mike told me.  "Og Alon is a joint venture of two very talented professionals: Michael Avery, the Australian-born winemaker at the Golan Winery, and Omri Zilberman, the Golan Brewery brewmaster.  For more details Mike sent me to Omri.

    Omri said that double bocks (or doppelbocks) are lager beers that were first brewed in Germany (historically associated with the town of Einbeck) when there was an economic need to transport beer further afield than just the immediate area of the brewery.  Just like India Pale Ales hundreds of years later, double bocks were strengthened for the journey by higher percentages of hops and alcohol.

    Some say that double bocks are cold weather beers, and in fact, Og Alon was brewed to appear at the end of winter.  (I admit I should have written this post a few months ago.)  Double bocks are also known as "liquid bread" and were reportedly brewed by German monks to drink during Lent instead of food.           
    The Bazelet line in cork-topped
    750 milliliter bottles.
            
    They are known for their intense malty sweetness, just cut by bitterness of the hops.  They are strong beers, typically 7-8% alcohol.  No doubt the monks appreciated that too during the somber days of Lent.

    Omri added: "Characteristics such as color, aroma, body and bitterness didn't interest the brewers of double bock beer.  That's why even today, double bocks can be so different one from the other.

    "This is certainly the case with our two beers.  The original recipes are completely different.  Bazelet Double Bock gets its range of aromas and flavors from the brewing process.  Og Alon gets its aromas and flavors from aging in old oak wine barrels."

    Other seasonal beers
    in the Og line.
    Israel Brews and Views did its own tasting to discover the differences.

    We began first with the Bazelet, its 8% ABV putting it firmly in the double bock category.  It pours dark brown with a rich and foamy tan head.  The aroma is of roasted malts.  The taste is also overwhelmingly malty, which is nicely balanced by a very low hop bitterness.  My drinking partner enjoyed the "complexities" of the flavor, but was unable to pinpoint them more specifically.

    The Og Alon has a much lighter honey color, even though it is fractionally more alcoholic (8.5% ABV).  It's not the alcohol you feel first; it's the strong fruit aromas, something I wasn't expecting in a double bock.  The hop aroma and taste are stronger than in Bazelet Double Bock, but still are balanced by the full malted barley taste.  I'm sure the aging in oak contributed something grand to Og Alon's overall drinkability, but I couldn't place it.        

    All-in-all, I much preferred the Og Alon and I plan to enjoy it often, either by itself or with a hearty meal such as roasted vegetables or ratatouille.  I've already given two bottles as gifts.

    So, a belated welcome to Og Alon 2014 seasonal double bock beer.  Try it before it disappears from the shelves.