June 24, 2019

Isra-Brew Competition 2019 winners

The old blogger helps Omer Basha (left) and
Maxim Shain hold their multiple awards at the
Isra-Brew Competition award ceremony.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
This year, the Isra-Brew home-brewing competition drew 101 entries, and awards were given in nine categories, plus Best-in-Show and Champion Brewer.  The organizer was Dvir Flom of the Home-Brewers Guild of Beersheva.  The award ceremony was held at the Dancing Camel brewery and restaurant in Tel Aviv, with Dvir acting as the MC.

Nice doggie!
Making sure nobody touches the bottles of
beer until the award ceremony is over.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

The organizing committee was thoughtful enough to have brought to the ceremony all of the left-over bottles of beer that were entered into the competition -- and they were cold!  After the ceremony, all of the participants were able to help themselves to whichever beers were available.  So we not only met the winners, but in many cases, drank them.  

Here is the official list of winners, with the "names" and styles of the beers (where available).  Some categories received less than three prizes; some received honorable mentions.

Dvir Flom MC's the award ceremony
at the Isra-Brew home-brew competition
in Tel Aviv.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Best in Show
Tony Fall -- American IPA

Champion Brewer (with all prizes taken into account)
Tony Fall

Belgian Beers
First:  Lior Eshbal -- Mixed Fermentation Farmhouse Ale
Second:  Moshe Glantz -- Blond Ale
Third:  Ben-Or Adani -- B.O.B. Belgian Dubbel

Porters and Stouts
First:  Gilad Ne-Eman -- Cocoa My Mind, Imperial Stout
Second:  Murat Nepesov -- Baby Ris, Sweet Stout
Third:  Maxim Shain-- Brown Ale
First:  Tony Fall -- Mad Dog IPA
Second: Danny Perets (Karmazina) -- American IPA

Wheat Beer
First:  Assaf Murkes -- Mit Hefe

First:  Omer Basha (with Dvir Flom) -- La Becon 2019, Rauchbier
Second: Tony Fall -- Black Ruby, Schwarzbier
Third: Raviv Soha -- Czech Golden Lager
Honorable Mention: Maxim Shain, Rauchbier

Specialty Beers
First:  Omer Basha (with Home-Brewers Guild of Beersheva) -- Solera, Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer
Second: Maxin Shain  -- Classic Style Smoked Beer
Third: Ilan Ancel -- Raspberry Lager, Fruit Beer

Pale and Amber Ales
First:  Danny Perets (Karmazina) -- American Pale Ale

Strong Experimental English Beer
First:  Oren Bunimovich (with Yaron Shpund) -- Crom Cruach, English Strong Ale
Second: Eyal Grossman -- Coockie Porter, Experimental Beer

First:  Assi Lawi -- Shit Pit, Spice, Herb or Vegetable Mead
Second: Ohad Gertel -- Berry Mead
Third: Shmuel Naky -- Bluberr, Fruit and Spice Mead

Readers of my blog will recognize the names of some of the winners, who have been collecting prizes for several years now.  Other names are newcomers.

Tony Fall receives one of his two awards
at the BeerYamina home-brew competition
earlier this year.

(Photo: Tal Alfandary) 
One of these took the Best-in-Show and Champion Brewer prizes, Tony Fall.  Earlier, Tony won prizes in the Mivshalim competition in Beersheva, the HaDubim Clone contest, and the first-ever BeerYamina home-brew competition. (Read about that here.)

Tony wasn't able to be at the award ceremony, but I did get a chance to interview him on the phone.  Alas, his Best-in-Show American IPA was all gone, so no special tasting for the old blogger.  I'll certainly try to be around the next time Tony enters one of his home-brews in a competition.

Tony is 52 and from Blackpool, England.  He came to Israel as a volunteer on a kibbutz in 1987, where he met an Israeli girl.  Tony stayed with her and with Israel.  They live in Jerusalem and have two grown sons.

Although Tony managed pubs and restaurants in England for many years, he only started home-brewing here in Israel around two years ago.

Tony Fall (right) enjoys the limelight
at the BeerYamina award ceremony
with his wife and two sons.

(Photo: Tal Alfandary)
"My wife was against it because of the smell," he admits, "so I found a way to hide it from her.  I would brew when she wasn't home, then aerated the kitchen and used a deodorizing spray.  One day I gave her the beer, and she liked it so much she agreed that I could continue brewing."

He started entering competitions after receiving a lot of positive feedback from his early brews.  Tony today brews on his balcony using electric heating and the all-grain system.

"I have a good day job in hi-tech," he says, "so I'm not rushing to become a professional brewer.  But I think all of us dream about having our own brewery one day.  Who knows?"  

Tony's success across several competitions has very rapidly elevated him to one of the top home-brewers in Israel.  As I've written before, home-brewing provides the broad base of a country's craft beer culture, and it's built on the skill and inspiration of folks like Tony Fall.          

June 19, 2019

Next beer festivals: Arad -- June 20, Kfar Saba -- June 26-27

Arad Beer Festival Thursday, June 20
Don't know much about the Arad Beer Festival except that it's the second year in a row and that it's at the Zim Urban Life Center.  The doors open tomorrow, Thursday, June 20, at 7:00 p.m.  They advertise live music, food stands, and lots of beer from Israel and abroad.

Updated information available on the Facebook Events page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/466909534046157/ 

Kfar Saba Beer Festival Wednesday, Thursday, June 26-27
The Kfar Saba Beer Festival has been around for quite a few summers, and it's back this year on Wednesday and Thursday, June 26-27, opening each day at 6:00 p.m.  It's taking place on the Jerusalem Pedestrian Mall and entrance is free for those over 18.  Children under the age of 10 are allowed in only when accompanied by an adult.

Of course, there will be "dozens" of beers from local and overseas breweries, food stands, places to sit, drink and eat, and live performances including Monica Sex and Dr. Caspar.

If you sign up here (in Hebrew) before the festival -- https://www.eventer.co.il/ys4h3 -- you can buy three glasses (250 milliliters each) of beer for 55 shekels, and five glasses for 89 shekels.  The first fifty to sign up will also get a free branded gift!  

I get the feeling this is going to be a good one.  I'm sorry I won't be able to be there, but I'd love to hear about it if anybody wants to report.    

June 17, 2019

Home-brewers! Use your talent to support a great cause!

I'm sure you all remember that last year I wrote about an amazing day care center in Jerusalem for adults with cerebral palsy and other severe physical disabilities.  It's called Tsad Kadima ("A Step Forward") and once a week, the center is turned into a brewery which is operated by the participants themselves.  Their beer, Kadima Beer, is sold to help support the center.

Oshri, a participant in Tsad Kadima's
brewing program, hangs sterilized bottles
on the drying tree.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
(If your memory needs a little refreshing, please take a few moments to go back and read "The most unusual brewery.") 

Tsad Kadima is doing wonderful work for the community.  It's a project worth everyone's support.  And the fact that they have chosen to make craft beer one of their activities -- well, that just brings it close to perfection!

If you're a home-brewer, you have a great opportunity to help Tsad Kadima and in the process bring your beer to the attention of thousands of Jerusalemites.

Avi Colodner (right) helps Elior work the
bottle cap press, while Guy Salomon,
CEO of Tsad Kadima, looks on.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
On July 11, Tsad Kadima is holding a Kadima Beer Festival at the First Station, the old Turkish railroad station on David Remez Street.  Avi Colodner, the head of the Adult Day Center, is calling on home-brewers to contribute their brews at the festival.  "The beers will be sold by Tsad Kadima," explains Avi, "and all the proceeds will be used to support our activities.  Every home-brewer will be given a table, plenty of ice, and a chance to interact with the thousands of visitors we expect at the festival."

If you would like to take part in this very worthwhile project, please call Avi Colodner today at 050-990-9179, or e-mail him at colodner@gmail.com.  You can tell him the old blogger sent you.  Your beer will thank you for it.  Where else can it not only taste good, but also do good?

June 2, 2019

Two local beer festivals this week -- Yavne June 6, Beersheva June 7

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The first Yavne Beer Festival Thursday, June 6
According to this, the central city of Yavne (between Tel Aviv and Ashdod) will have its first beer festival on Thursday, June 6, in the courtyard of the Municipality (50 Duani Boulevard), from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Entrance is free.

The publicity promises that there will be over 45 different beers from local and foreign breweries. Food trucks will be on site with dishes suitable for vegans, vegetarians and even carnivores. Live entertainment will be provided by Jane Bordeaux and the Overtone Band. Discount tickets will be available for buying three, four and five glasses of beer.

It appears that this festival has been organized by Alechko Neznansky, a young entrepreneur who has organized other beer festivals and non-beer festivals, including Modi'in. If you have any questions, you can write to Alechko at: alechkopro@gmail.com

More information (in Hebrew) on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/354216391890726/

Image may contain: text

Beer Create Community Festival
Beersheva, Friday, June 7

It's called the Beer Create Community, but in effect it's the very excellent beer festival organized in Beersheva by the Brew Shop Israel, owned and operated by Gilad Ne-Eman. It's taking place this Friday, June 7, at the Brew Shop, 32 Herzl Street, from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Home-brewers from Beersheva and the Negev area will be pouring their beers, and there are always superb choices. Works of art by local artists will also be on display.

Entrance is free -- but if you want to drink beer (why else would you come?), you have to buy a tasting glass for 10 shekels, and then pay 15 shekels for every 200 milliliter taste. Having been there more than once, I can tell you that it's worth it.

More details here on the Hebrew Facebook (and a chance to ask questions): https://www.facebook.com/events/810300912685376/

May 30, 2019

Winners of the 2019 B'tsisa Home-Brew Competition

This season's second home-brewing competition was the prestigious Alexander B'tsisa (Hebrew for "In Fermentation").  It was organized by the Beer & Beyond beer super-store in Tel Aviv, and sponsored by the Alexander Brewery.  the award ceremony was held at the Alexander Beer Garden in Modi'in. 

Winners were chosen in six different categories, plus the Best in Show.  One interesting note: In the Dark Lager category, no entry received enough points to qualify for the first prize. 

So without further ado, here is the list of winners, I believe for the first time in English: 

Elad Talby receives his
Best-in-Show Award
from Shachar Hertz (left),
owner of Beer & Beyond,
and Ori Sagi, owner of
the Alexander Brewery.
Best in Show
Elad Talby -- New England IPA

Dark Lager
First:  None
Second:  Emmanuel Peled
Third:  Neveh Lazer

German Wheat
First:  Omer Laser
Second:  Asaf Murkes 
Third:  Elchanan Hopper Hornman 

Belgian Pale Ale
First:  Jason Barnett
Second:  Ori Schweid
Third:  Neveh Lazar
Honorable Mention: Elad Lander and Elchanan Hopper Hornman 

British Dark Ale
First:  Steven and Boaz Blumo
Second: Noam Shalev
Third:  Emmanuel Peled 
New England IPA
First:  Elad Talby
Second:  Lior Digabli
Third:  Constantine Katkov

Spiced Beer
First:  Lior Digabli
Second: Eran Shtrul
Third: Omer Leon
Honorable Mention: Uri Schweid and Constantine Katkov 

Elad Talby's elegantly
designed bottle label for
his home-brand,"Talbeer."

I was able to track down 32-year-old Elad Talby and get a bottle of his Best-in-Show New England IPA.  Elad is no stranger to the B'tsisa, having won first prize in the Session IPA category two years ago. [You can read about that here.] 

I admit that I have never tasted a New England IPA that conforms to the style descriptions: hazy, juicy, sweet and creamy; no hop bitterness; fruity and floral flavors.
Elad's NEIPA comes the closest.  For example, it is a very cloudy, brownish orange color, with sweet aromas of fruit -- grapefruit, mango and banana.  The taste brings more fruit and yeast, but is very bitter, not like the NEIPAs I read about.  In fact, this sweet smell vs bitter taste is a pleasant slap in the face.  The body is full; actually mouth coating.  The finish is dry.  

It may not be how I imagine NEIPAs, but Elad's Best-in-Show is the most enjoyable "extreme" beer I have tasted this year.  

Congratulations to Elad for this impressive achievement.  I'm sure this isn't the last time we'll hear his name.   

May 27, 2019

Israeli team brews beer from 3,000-year-old yeast strain

At first I thought I had walked into a press conference where President Trump was announcing his peace plan for the Middle East.

"If you promise them beer, they will come":
Dr. Ronen Hazan (right) introduces the
ancient yeast project to the press.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Dozens of journalists and photographers were jockeying for position to get a better view of the speakers.  Interviewers were getting physical while fending off attempts by other journalists to steal away their interviewees. 

But the subject wasn't peace.  It was beer, which probably generates greater interest around the world these days.  The restaurant area of Beerateinu, the Jerusalem Beer Center, was packed  -- for what journalist or news organization could resist the promise to hear about a 5,000-year-old beer that has been resurrected -- and to actually taste it?

The real story, however, is much more prosaic than the perfervid headlines that grew out of it.  This was not "the beer that the Pharaohs (or Cleopatra or Goliath) drank."  Scientifically, however, it's just as stunning.

Tzemach Aouizerat (right) and the old blogger
come close to some of the ancient vessels
which contained the yeast spores.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
An Israeli team of archaeologists, biologists and brewers had succeeded in isolating and cultivating yeast spores found in the pores of ancient ceramic vessels.  ("Spores in the Pores" would be a good name for the beer.)  Six different yeast strains were isolated from 21 shards of pottery found in four different archaeological sites throughout Israel.

Tzemach Aouizerat is the MA student in microbiology who was given the task of finding the yeast colonies, revitalizing them after millennium of slumber, nurturing them, and sequencing their DNA (genome).  Quite a piece of work.

When the cultures were analyzed, it was found that the yeast was authentic, that is, actually used in brewing and not just pollution from the environment.  In fact, one of the yeast strains found in pots from the Philistine site at Tel es-Safi (the biblical city of Gath) is still used today to brew native sorghum beer in Zimbabwe.

Prof. Aren Maeir of the Hebrew University
demonstrates how beer was poured from an
ancient Philistine beer jug.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Next, beers were brewed using a few of the resurrected yeast strains.  Leading this project was Itai Gutman, the former founder and partner of Herzl Brewery in Jerusalem, now residing in Germany.  A team of certified beer judges led by Shmuel Naky, one of the partners of Beerateinu, completed the work by tasting and giving the final beers their stamp of approval. 

There was no attempt to use other "original ingredients" for the grains or the flavoring.  We know that the Egyptians, Philistines and others used a wide range of flavorings for their beer, including honey, different fruits, plants and herbs.  But for these recreated beers, modern hops and wheat malt were used -- a true anachronism since hops originated in Europe about the 11th century CE.

Shmuel Naky of Beerateinu
(The Jerusalem Beer Center)
pours the beer made from ancient yeast
for the thirsty journalists and photographers.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
It was not much of a surprise, therefore, that the beer which was poured for the journalists and guests tasted very much like a modern wheat beer.  Mild, slightly spicy, sweet and fruity, drinkable and refreshing.

I could play the cynic and retell the story of the curator who showed me the hatchet that George Washington used to chop down the famous cherry tree.  "It's the original hatchet," he proclaimed.  "It's only had three new heads and two new handles since Washington used it."

But let's not overlook the very positive aspect: Revitalizing the yeast and using it to actually brew beer was a step forward in "experimental archaeology" -- a field that seeks to reconstruct the past.  Dr. Ronen Hazan, a microbiologist at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine and one of the initiators of this project, said, "Our research offers new tools to examine ancient methods, and enables us to taste the flavors of the past."

The old blogger raises a toast with
archaeologist Dr. Aharon Greener
with the ancient yeast new beer.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Dr. Yitzchak Paz of the Israel Antiquities Authority added that this experiment was a real "breakthrough."  "This is the first time we succeeded in producing ancient alcohol from ancient yeast.  In other words, from the original substances from which alcohol was produced.  This has never been done before."

And Prof. Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University's Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, summed it up by proclaiming, "Make no mistake about it.  This is a fantastic find!"

Even if it wasn't the same beer that warmed the heart of the Pharaohs, Cleopatra or Goliath.

May 20, 2019

Special commemorative bottles for Malka and Negev beers

Two Israeli craft brewers have come out with new lines of commemorative bottles.  Same beer inside, but different themed labels outside.

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The Malka gift pack of five new
printed bottles
 issued in honor of 

Israel's 71st Independence Day.
(Photo: Shoval Launger)
1)  For Israel's 71st Independence Day, the Malka Brewery in the Tefen Industrial Zone (central Galilee) has produced five new bottles which depict historical leaders, though in very unconventional poses.

There is Theodor Herzl on the Stout, David Ben-Gurion on the Pale Ale (Admonit), Golda Meir on the Blond Ale (B'hira), Menachem Begin on the Wheat and Mahatma Gandhi (of course) on the Hindi IPA.

The labels were designed by Amit Shimoni of Hipstory.

The bottles are sold separately and there is a gift pack which contains all five.  Assaf Lavi, partner and brewer of Malka Beer, told me that 170,000 of the commemorative bottles were made.

Image may contain: drink and indoor
Douze Points: Negev Brewery introduced over
40 new bottles, each one depicting a flag
of a participating country in the
2019 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Tel Aviv.

2) For the Eurovision Song Contest which was just held in Tel Aviv (Netherlands was the winner), Negev Beer (also brewed at the Malka Brewery) printed over 40 special bottles, each one with a stylized flag of a participating country.

The series is named Douze Points, which is written in Hebrew letters and means "Twelve Points" in French, the highest score a country can be given in the Eurovision contest.  

The bottles contain Negev's popular beers: Oasis (Blond Ale), Porter Alon (oak-conditioned porter) and Amber Ale.

Image may contain: drink
Three of the Negev Brewery's Douze Points bottles
issued in commemoration of the
2019 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Tel Aviv.
Gilad Dror, manager of beer brands at Hacarem Spirits Ltd., would not reveal the number of commemorative bottles produced, but told me that it "equals an average month of sales for us."  

The labels were designed by Racheli and were printed on the bottles by HP Indigo digital print (Arik Sofer) and the Tadbik printing plant (Maor Hed).

If you want these bottles from Malka and Negev, I suggest you get some right away while they are still on the shelves of the stores that carry Israeli craft beers.  You get the wonderful beers of Malka and Negev, and also a cool collector's item.  Israel will have many more Independence Days, but never again the 71st.  And who knows when we'll ever host a Eurovision Song Contest again?