October 21, 2014

Friday mornings at the Glen Whisky Bar

Shmuel Naky posing at the
Glen Whisky Bar.
The Glen Whisky Bar at 18 Shlomzion Hamalka Street in Jerusalem is a cozy bar that pumps nine Israeli craft beers and ten imported beers.

This past summer, owner Leon Schwartz started to invite different brewers to come and sell their beers on Friday mornings, or more accurately, lunchtime.  Before this wonderful practice ended with the start of autumn, I went to three such events and here is my report:

1) HaDubim

The first morning I was there was International IPA Day, and the Glen Bar was selling bottles of the three India pale ales made by HaDubim Brewery (Mivshelet Ha'am) from Even Yehuda.  (All the hosted beers, whether bottles or draft, are sold for the discounted price of 18 shekels.)

Tom Castel, Glen Whisky bartender.
Bartenders Tom Castel and Shmuel Naky were selling their homemade humus and gnocchi to accompany the beers.  They also offered my drinking partner Mike and me some tastings of the draft beers we were unfamiliar with.  But what we came for were the IPAs.

HaDubim's first IPA was Indira.  It's the darkest of the three, copper-colored, and the strongest, at 7% ABV.  Indira's style is called an American IPA, which cranked up the original British version with extreme hops in the aroma and taste throughout.  The brewers use American Cascade hops, which impart a fresh citrusy aroma.  Yet, we also agreed that Indira had the strongest malty sweetness of the three. 

Next in line, and in time, was Eshibobo, a golden hued ale, rounder in taste and mouthfeel than Indira, and less alcoholic (5.8%).  HaDubim started brewing it, I guess, to give customers a more moderate and less bitter alternative to Indira.  Mike found it a "warmer" beer, which could also mean "friendlier" if you're not a confirmed hophead.  We also thought it was drier and less sweet -- a refreshing and drinkable beer -- but at the southern border of IPA-land.

The three IPAs from HaDubim
at the Glen Whisky Bar in Jerusalem.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

Polar is the newest IPA, on the market only a few months.  It's the palest of them all, with alcoholic content just a shade above Eshibobo (6%).  Dagan Bar Ilan (who with his brother Ronen are the owners of HaDubim Brewery) told me that the major change here was replacing the Cascade hops with Chinook and Simcoe.

And indeed, we found this beer stronger on the pine and spice and less on the citrus.  The finish was light and dry -- another easy to drink IPA, not for extremists.

The final verdict: You have to really split hairs to find the differences in HaDubim's three IPAs.  If you believe a beer should be hoppy and bitter, you can grab any one and be satisfied.

2) Shibolet 

Noam Shalev of Modi'in has been home-brewing for several years.  His beers bear the Shibolet label, which means "ear of corn" in Hebrew.  Shalev is the only Israeli home-brewer I know who has been experimenting with sour beers, very popular in Belgium, and I've been looking forward to tasting them for some time.  Shalev is also known as a true beer-maven by his peers.  He recently won first prize in a London beer trivia contest.

Noam Shalev discusses his Shibolet Beer
with the old blogger.
(Photo: Mike Horton)

On his Friday morning, Shalev was pouring his Summertime Saison, a 6% ale made with barley, wheat and rye malts.  "But the important thing with saisons is the yeast," Shalev told me.  "I use a special saison yeast which gives the beer a typical Belgian flavor that Israelis seem to like."

Not many Israeli brewers make saison beer.  It's a style that was originally brewed in Belgian in the spring for summer drinking, and is highly refreshing with fruity or spicy flavors.  I found Shalev's saison a very mild beer, not too bitter and easy to drink.  There was a definite turn to sourness or tartness, which at this low level is kind of nice.  There was very little presence of hops.

Shalev also had his Badass Bitter on tap.  Now, "bitter" is a style the British like, but in reality, it isn't very bitter.  In fact, it is closest to a pale ale: well-hopped and fruity, light bodied, low carbonation and alcohol.  When you go into a pub in Britain and ask for a "bitter," it's like asking for a "beer" in America.  These days, you have to be a little more specific.  I found Shalev's bitter very flavorful and refreshing, a balanced beer with perhaps less hops than I normally prefer.

Shibolet beers.(Photo: Mike Horton)
We were joined by Dr. Levi Fried and his wife Harmony.  Dr. Fried is another home-brewer from Modi'in whose beers appear under the Righteous Brew label.  Shalev served us one of his bottles of sour beer.  Dr. Fried took a sip and weighed it thoughtfully and considerately.  I found it difficult to do so.  If all good tastes are acquired, I have quite a ways to go with sour beers.

I also later tasted a bottle of Shibolet's Pomegranate Sour Ale, which is based on a Flander's Red sour ale with the addition of pomegranate seeds.  The sour or acetic taste comes from the special yeast which produces lactic acid in the fermentation.  Shalev let this beer ferment in oak for a whole year(!) and then aged it for an additional six months with the seeds.  He only made 20 liters, so don't look for this one in any store.   

The Pomegranate Sour Ale pours out a lovely light red and has an aroma of dry wine and fruit.  In fact, it reminded me of pomegranate wines I've had.  It is very sour with no hop taste and very light carbonation.  The taste is pleasant enough if you like sour fruits, but as I said, it really has to grow on you.  Kudos to Noam Shalev for bringing us beers, well, that maybe no one else is, and for expanding the boundaries on how we think about our favorite beverage.

3) Sparrow

The third Friday was devoted to Sparrow Beer, brewed by Dror Sapir at the Mivshelet Ha'am contract brewery in Even Yehuda.  Sapir himself lives on Moshav Magshimim in the southern Sharon region.
Sparrow Beers.(Photo: Mike Horton)

He brews one batch of 200 liters every month.  Sapir has done a good job at marketing his beers, which are on sale at the three major beer stores in Tel Aviv: Beer & Beyond, Beer Bazaar and Beer Market.
Sparrow Beers' Sparrowheat,
Belgian Double 8%, and Zythos Wheat IPA.
(Photo: Mike Horton)

He markets three beers:

Zythos Wheat IPA -- I have written about this beer before (see here) and it's one of my favorite Israeli beers.

Sparrowheat -- a strong (6.2% ABV) wheat beer

Classic IPA

The old blogger with Dror Sapir
of Sparrow Beers.
(Photo: Mike Horton)

 On his Glen Bar morning, Sapir was also pumping a West Coast IPA, which is dry-hopped for an even more intense hop flavor.

He also shared a bottle of his Belgian Double 8% with me.  This is a beautiful beer that demonstrates Sapir's skill as a brewer.  From the small tan head and yeasty aroma, the beer develops with a strong, sweet flavor of roasted malt and dark chocolate.  The gentle carbonation only adds to the overall impression of rich taste and full body.

As a beer lover and a social animal, I enjoyed every minute of my Friday lunchtimes at the Glen Whisky Bar.  They are too good to be lost, and I can only hope that they are reinstituted as soon as possible.     


  1. Anonymous10/21/2014

    Flanders Red uses bacteria to turn it sours, Brettanomyces , Lactobacillus, Pediococcus are the usual stains used, so it is a yeast and Bac brew. this is similar to how kombucha is made.

    1. Thank you for pointing that out, JJ. Actually, Brett is a form of yeast, but since the bacteria you mention and yeast both metabolize sugars to produce what the brewers desire, I lumped them together. I appreciate your clarification.

  2. Sounds like you're preparing for the next beer tasting.


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