February 24, 2015

One more "winter holiday" ale

Winter is still here; there's no doubt about that.  Witness our last weekend: cold and rainy, and snowy in the hilly regions around Israel.  So it's not too late to mention one more Israeli "winter holiday" ale that arrived after I wrote my previous post.
Snowy Jerusalem from our window.

It's the Mabul Christmas Ale made by home-brewers Avi Riji and Oded Bahar in Kiryat Motzkin near Haifa.  (I mentioned Avi and his beers when I wrote about home-brewers, and you can read it here.)

Mabul Christmas Ale.
My drinking partner Moshe and I agreed that Mabul ("flood" in Hebrew) was the most flavorful holiday beer we tasted.  It pours dark copper with a reddish hue.  The aroma that hits you is strongly cinnamon and hops.  Quite a nice combination, really.  Cinnamon stays in the flavor, along with bitter chocolate, and ending with ginger in the aftertaste.  Avi and Oded brew their beer with cinnamon, ginger, honey and nutmeg.

Moshe commented that all of the flavors combine very nicely in Mabul, though he believes that the extreme flavors of this beer would be appreciated more by beer aficionados than the general public. So, kudos to Avi and Oded for creating a winter holiday ale worthy of its name.

The downside is that Mabul is a home-brew not available in any stores or restaurants.  Avi and Oded share it with their family and friends, of which I am happy to be one.

Maredsous Trippel abbey ale.
However, for this past snowy Shabbat in Jerusalem, when the temperature was close to freezing, I chose to open a bottle of beer widely available in Israel though not, unfortunately, from Israel.  It was a warming and strong (10% ABV) abbey ale from Belgium -- Maredsous Trippel.  It is brewed in the venerable tradition of the Benedictine monks, and undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle with the addition of sugar and yeast.

Maredsous Trippel can be kept in the bottle for three years without any change in taste and color.  I received mine as a birthday present from my son Aharon and his wife Melanie a-year-and-a-half ago.

Mardesous Trippel pours a bright amber color with a firm white head.  The aroma is fruity, citrus and banana.  Within the heavy malt and alcohol taste, I found beautiful notes of chocolate caramel, prunes and dried fruits.

The beer went very well with our lunch, which was a good, hearty vegetarian cholent and other vegetable stews.  The strong flavors of the Trippel added a contrasting sweetness to our hot stews.  And for dessert, the beer's caramel flavor perfectly complemented a tart apple strudel and peanut butter - granola cookies.          

Most people associate beer with the summertime; a cold, crisp thirst quencher.  But the more I learn about the charms of strong ales and winter beers, the more I appreciate beer as no less a great beverage for the cold weather.