November 29, 2017

New beer roundup

The time has come to catch up with some new beers on the market.  I'm never going to be able to keep up with the pace at which new beers are being launched -- and that's a good thing.  It means that Israeli micro-breweries have reached a level of sustainability in creating new beers for the growing market which constantly demands new tastes and experiences.

We'll begin with two new Pilsners.

Pilsner lager beer was first introduced in the Czech city of Plzen in 1842 and quickly became the most popular beer style in Europe.  The Germans began to brew their own version of Pilsner, and today in America, craft breweries are doing the same.  In Israel, a number of craft breweries also make a Pilsner-style beer.   
   
Pilsner lagers are known for their clarity, golden color, spicy hop flavors, flavorful malt, light body and crisp, clean mouthfeel.  It's no wonder their popularity swept across the beer-drinking world.  

Pair your Pilsners with light appetizers and food, salads, mild cheeses, salsa and other dips, grain dishes, stir-fries, and light desserts (lemony or berry).

Lela Pilsner
From Eli Bechar of the Lela Brewery in Maccabim (brewed commercially at the Mosco Brewery) comes a "Gentle" Pilsner, an even lighter version of a light beer.  With only 3.8% alcohol, Lela Pilsner pours out clear and pale with very fine carbonation.  The aromas were very fresh, including lemon and hay (not unusual for a Pilsner), but there was also a note of something that I can only call "soft boiled egg whites."  
          
The body is very light, but there are excellent flavors: bitter citrus and raw wheat.  The carbonation tickles your tongue like the gas in soda.  A very interesting Pilsner, indeed.

Mosco Pilsner
Mosco is one of the veteran Israeli craft breweries and, as you read above, often contracts out its facilities to smaller and newer brewers.  Owners Amir Lev and Yaron Moscovich have recently added a Pilsner and a Smoked Beer to their repertoire. 

The Pilsner is as classic as you can get.  Clear and pale yellow with light carbonation and 3.8% alcohol, the aromas that hit you first are grass, yeast and fresh grain.  These are also in the mid-bitter taste, with the grain morphing into malt, and also citrus and vegetal.  The finish is crisp and astringent.

Even though Pilsner lagers are associated with summertime drinking, these are beers you can enjoy year-round, even during the cold and rainy months ahead of us.  Israeli breweries are becoming very adept at perfecting this styles, and there is no reason for us to choose imported beers in their place.  



Mosco Smoked Beer
The other new beer from Mosco is a Smoked Beer, which earlier this year took first place in the Flavored Beer category in the Golden Beer competition for Israeli commercial brewers.  (See the entire list of winners here.)     

Smoked beer is a style which has achieved a certain following abroad, with most beer drinkers either liking it a lot or the opposite.  

Just a few Israeli micro-breweries make a smoked beer.  I can think of Black Jack Smoked Stout from Beer Bazaar in Kiryat Gat, Cool Madjul from Beertzinut on Kibbutz Ketura, and Smoked Stout from LiBira Brewery in Haifa.  The beers get their smoky taste from the barley malt which is dried over an open flame.   

I personally find an extreme smoky taste hard to swallow -- which is why I enjoyed this new Mosco Smoked.   

The smokiness is not overpowering, just one of the taste-sensations among many.  The beer is a cloudy amber color with low carbonation.  Already in the aroma, the smoke is evident.  My drinking partner, Moshe, who is a carnivore, said that the smell was "smoked meat."  The taste is very rich and malty, with some smoke, caramel and yeast.  The smoke taste contributes to the long and dry finish.  Alcohol by volume is a hefty 7%.  

This is an enjoyable beer by itself, certainly with salty snacks, but would also pair well with foods that can be smoked, such as certain cheeses, vegetables and desserts.


Lela Date Ale

Another new beer from Lela is a Date Ale ("Tmarim"), brewed with silan (date syrup) instead of grain.  Since it is made at the Mosco Brewery, which does use wheat and barley in its equipment, the Date Ale cannot be called "gluten-free," but simply, "For people who avoid gluten."  Alcohol by volume is 5.4%.  The silan is made from premium dates grown in the Jordan Valley.

Lela Date Ale pours out with the color and look of Coca Cola, finely carbonated.  On the nose, you get chocolate-covered dates.  The tastes we picked up were sweet licorice, molasses, bitter dark chocolate, carob, burnt dates and Tamar Hindi (a Middle Eastern drink made with tamarind fruit).  With all these tastes, the finish is long and moderately bitter.  

This was a fresh bottle of beer, so the tastes were all quite distinct.  I think these would dissipate as the bottle ages, so I recommend you drink this beer as fresh as possible.

Even though hops are used in brewing Lela Date Ale, we found no presence in the aroma or taste.

Lela Date Ale is a tasty and interesting drink.  Even though I personally have a problem accepting as "beer" any beverage which gets its fermentable sugars from something other than grain, you may have a different opinion.  Taste it and let me know what you think.


Buster's IPA


After bringing out an Oak Aged Stout and a Pilsner (read about them here and here), the Buster's Brewing Company in Beit Shemesh has released an India Pale Ale.  Brewmaster Denny Neilson has pulled out all the stops and produced an IPA in the American (West Coast) style -- hoppy, fruity and bitter.  

A few years back, Denny was brewing a Double IPA called Chutzpah ("Insolence").  He sold it only at his store and a few other beer events, and never if it was over two weeks old.  After that, he said, the hop flavors would get too mellowed out -- in short, they would lose their chutzpah.  (Read more about the original Chutzpah here.)

The new Buster's IPA tips its hat to its predecessor by telling you on the label that it's "Beer with a little chutzpah," and "Very hoppy, do not age!"  It's also only 4.8% alcohol by volume, so you can easily enjoy more than one bottle at a time.  It's made with Cascade hops for the bitterness, and then hopped and dry-hopped with Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe hops for the flavors and aromatics.

Buster's IPA has a partly cloudy, golden orange color, and a thin white head.  The hop aromas are ripe pineapple, lemon zest and pine, with some peach as well.  The tastes continue with fruit and citrus, finishing with dry lemon, very hoppy and very bitter.  My drinking partner Moshe found the bitterness, "a bit exaggerated, like a punch in the face," but I had no problem with it.  As Israeli tastes go, this is one of the more "extreme" IPAs -- and one of the most enjoyable.           

5 comments:

  1. Wow, I really must get some. They sound great. The problem is that I'm the only beer drinker in the family.

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    Replies
    1. The advantage being then, that you don't have to share!

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    2. but the calories...

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  2. This post has been included in the latest blog roundup, so please take a look, visit the others and share. Shiloh Musings: What's New in The Blogging World

    Shavua Tov,

    Have a truly wonderful and blessed week

    ReplyDelete
  3. Life's too short to worry about calories Batya......enjoy the beer! 😉

    ReplyDelete

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