October 5, 2016

The 2016 Jerusalem Beer Festival: Fun, but not much new

It's always good to make new friends
at the Jerusalem Beer Festival.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
I should really write about the 2016 Jerusalem Beer Festival, which took place this year as August met September.  After all, it is on my home turf.  Impresario Eli Giladi and his team of organizers are efficient, courteous, welcoming, and treat me like semi-royalty.  I run into a lot of friends and neighbors, and the ambiance is redolent with beer and good times.

Yes, for the average beer drinker who is hopefully taking his or her first steps towards appreciating craft beer, this is a great event.  Even though Big Beer, both Israeli-brewed and imported, is conspicuously represented, there are also many stands of local micro-brewers where you can get generous tastes and patient explanations on what craft beer is all about.

With the very sane Reuben Beiser,
co-owner of the wonderful Mike's Place
restaurant and bar in Jerusalem.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
But for your somewhat jaded old blogger, there was almost nothing new.  Most of the major craft breweries that I -- and hopefully also you -- know and love were there, serving there regular line of beers.  It's always a pleasure for me to meet the brewers and take a picture with them -- but is that something I should be writing about?  

With my 20/20 (or 6/6) hindsight, I can see now that what the brewers did was wait a few weeks and unveil their new beers at the BEERS 2016 Exhibit in Tel Aviv -- of which you'll read more about at a later date.

Sharing a laugh with Gilad Ne-Eman
of HeChalutz Brewery.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
But getting back to Jerusalem, there were a few new, or renewed, beers that I was able to find.  For example, Almost 10, a strong, dark Belgian-style ale from Gilad Ne-Eman of the HeChalutz ("The Pioneer") Brewery in Beersheva (which I already wrote about here).  Don't look for Almost 10 in your favorite liquor store.  It was made for this festival, and I guess for other such events as well.

Yochai Maytal of HeChatzer Brewery ("Back Yard Beer") in Ra'anana was serving his re-issued Kruzo, an American pale ale made with barley and wheat malts and mango puree.  The beer is named after Robinson Crusoe (who presumably ate mangoes on his deserted island), but the brewers chose to spell the English name differently.  HeChatzer uses the facilities of the Srigim Brewery to make this beer in commercial quantities.

Head-to-head with Yochai Maytal,
partner in the HeChatzer Brewery.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Kruzo hasn't been on the shelves for about two years, and it's return is welcomed back.  I love the taste of mango, but to tell the truth, I couldn't find it in this beer, nor could my astute drinking companion Moshe.  What we did get were grassy and tropical fruit aromas.  The fruits are also in the taste, dominated by guava.  Quite flavorful, but not really the mango I was looking for.  Perhaps it's the mango that adds a sweet counter-balance to the plentiful amounts of Citra and Magnum hops which are used in this beer.

Herzl Beer partner Maor Helfman served me
a glass of his amazing Embargo Porter,
brewed with Cuban tobacco leaves.

(Photo: Mike Horton) 
Even without a strong mango presence, this is a delicious beer, light and refreshing (5.3% alcohol), perfect for a summer's day, by itself or with food.  Any spicy dishes, or light desserts which would go well with some added fruit flavor -- like pancakes, cheesecake and mild cheeses -- would be nicely complemented (and complimented) by Kruzo.

Another newcomer was a Rye IPA from the Golan Brewery in Katzrin.  This beer was also made only for festivals, but Golan Brewery head Moti Bar told me that it may be made available to the public at a later date under their specialty Og label.  

Chatting with the always amiable Eli Bechar
of Lela Brewery of Maccabim.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
This Rye IPA pours out a dark amber color with aromas of spice and caramel.  You can taste the spicy rye, which I appreciate, along with pine and sweet malt, but I wonder why they call this an IPA.  It simply does not have the hop presence and bitterness associated with this style.  Still in all, an enjoyable drink. There are not too many Israeli beers made with rye malt. 

I'm sorry you have to look at the old blogger in every one of the photos here, but I think you can tell that I was having a good time.  Maybe at the next Jerusalem Beer Festival, some of the brewers will choose to unveil their new beers.          


  1. Mark Markish10/06/2016

    I'd call present time as stagnation in Israeli beer market.
    very unfortunately :(


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