November 29, 2013

Mosco on the Mediterranean

Amir and Yaron: Brought back together by Mosco Beer!
In the year since the Mosco Brewery began production, it has been the subject of at least three Hebrew articles in print and on the internet.

Certainly, it doesn't hurt that the beer is good stuff.

But it's the personal story that has grabbed the journalists and the bloggers.

Two childhood friends in Rishon LeZion, Amir Lev and Yaron Moscovich, gradually drifted apart and went their separate ways over the years.  Amir became an ultra-Orthodox Jew, got married, moved to Ramat Beit Shemesh and had four kids.  He worked as an agronomist in hydroponic agriculture.  Yaron stayed single, secular and in Rishon.  Eventually, the two lost contact all together.

About seven years later, Yaron called Amir out of the blue.  "I just brewed some home-made beer," he announced, "and you have to taste it."  Amir was happy to renew the friendship and agreed immediately.

From that meeting, the two began to see each other again and began to experiment with different beer recipes which they shared with the families and friends.  After two years, they decided to make a business out of it.  The found a place for their brewery on Moshav Zanuach, close to Amir's home in Beit Shemesh.  They called their new enterprise "Mosco," which is Yaron Moscovich's nickname.

The old label . . .
The Mosco Brewery began production in November 2012.  Since then, the two partners, now both 38, have put time and effort into producing high-quality beers and into marketing them.  They almost immediately took part in the big Beers 2012 exhibit in Tel Aviv, and in regional beer festivals such as Jerusalem and Mateh Yehuda (Srigim).  In an effort to modernize the branding, they recently introduced a new logo and labels for the beer.

I first met Amir when he was giving out tastes of his new beer on Friday morning at the HaMisameach liquor store near Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem.  He remembered me when we met again at the brewery a few days ago.

. . . and the new!
We tasted the Mosco Blond, which is a delicious, full-flavored pale ale, just a little short of the hops and alcohol needed to make it an IPA.

The Mosco Red (sounds like a throw back to the Cold War days!) is a little darker ale taking its first steps towards the flavor of stout, with nice coffee tones.

Amir admitted that Mosco's two beers reflect the partners' own taste.  "We have to like the beers we brew," he said.  Amir and Yaron generally do not like, for example, wheat beers.  But recently Yaron developed a wheat beer recipe which changed their minds.

"We hope to be brewing and marketing our wheat beer in the near future," Amir revealed to me.  "Yaron is getting married in two months, and his fiance wants the first batch of our wheat beer to served at their wedding.  That can be your scoop."

The Mosco Brewery has a sparkling set of new, modern equipment -- mash tun, kettle and four fermenters -- made in China by an Israeli company.  "We are very satisfied," said Amir.  No artificial carbonation is ever used in Mosco Beer, and a second fermentation takes place in the bottle.  They are currently producing around 1,500 to 2,000 liters a month.

As with other breweries, Mosco imports all ingredients, but Amir, the agronomist, dreams of Israel one day growing barley and hops to supply its own domestic beer industry.  "Why not?" he asks innocently.   
Mosco Beer is now available in select liquor stores in Jerusalem and in the Tel Aviv area north to Netanya, as well as in bars and restaurants. 

I loved the Blond at first sip -- and that was before I knew that she had brought two old friends back together again.         


  1. Anonymous11/30/2013

    Israeli-grown hops sounds like a splendid innovation. Maybe we'll discover that, as was the case with our grapes, we have soil and climate conditions that make our country ideal for unique hop varieties to rival the best of in the world. Then we'll start seeing "Israeli Ales" and "Israeli IPAs" made exclusively with Israeli ingredients. חזון אחרית הימים or a realizable vision?

    1. We'll know it's אחרית הימים when IPA stands for "Israel Pale Ale."


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