June 25, 2015

New beers at Zman Amiti

One fine Friday morning, I braved the perils of the road and traveled to Tel Aviv to the Zman Amiti Beer Festival, co-sponsored by the Beer & Beyond store.  I was joined by my good friend Yitzhak Miskin and his daughter Shoshana -- two enthusiastic beer lovers.

Zman Amiti (which means "real time" in Hebrew) is basically a school for bar-tending, a profession much in demand in Israel.  The venue is compact enough to visit all of the brewers on display in a short time.

Many of the smaller brewers chose this event to unveil their new beers.  That's what got me to make the trip.

Here, then, in no particular order (Did I mention that I was tasting beers?) are some memorable new brews:

Baron's Brewery in Hod Hasharon

Lior Degabli of Baron's Brewery undoubtedly was pouring the largest number of new beers.  I noted:

Lior Degabli and friend
pouring Baron's beer.
         Chocolate Robust Porter
         Cardamon Coffee Stout
         Winter Saison
         Imperial IPA
         Belgian Dark Strong Ale
         Peanut Butter Ale
         Summer Session IPA

While I wouldn't recommend making Peanut Butter Ale your go-to beer, I actually enjoyed the taste of fresh peanuts in the envelope of a hoppy pale ale.  We eat peanuts with beer, don't we?  I think this beer would pair well with any sweet, neutral-flavor dessert.  And of course, if you're ever having a plain grape jelly sandwich on white bread . . .

The Cardamon Coffee Stout was another excellent blending of flavors.  This beer is brewed with ground Turkish coffee and cardamon.  It pours a very dark brown color with strong aromas of the spice and the coffee.  I'm used to cardamon as part of a spice package in winter holiday or Christmas ales, but by itself it adds a beer-friendly sparkle that had me doing a double-take.  In fact, the taste was roasty cardamon, if you can imagine that, but I'm not sure if it comes from the malt or if the spice itself was roasted.

I brought home a bottle of the Chocolate Robust Porter which I enjoyed with a hearty Shabbat lunch.  This is a strong and dark American porter.  The flavor of the chocolate malt is enhanced by the addition of chocolate shavings and vanilla sticks during the fermentation.  Not all foods would go well with such a chocolaty beer, but I actually thought it was surprisingly complementary to our vegetarian shepherd's pie and noodle kugel.

Argamon Brewery in Bat Yam

Tamir Bunny (right) at Zman Amiti.
Home-brewer Tamir Bunny, whose day job is in the Beer & Beyond store in Tel Aviv, was making his debut with the Argamon ("Crimson") Beer label.  On the table were:

       Air Born Saison
       Sludge Factory IPA
       Uberlin (German-American wheat beer)

I tried the Air Borne Saison, a light Belgian saison-style beer, but dry-hopped with Nelson hops.  I found it to be semi-sour, which is just enough for me, and very refreshing.  I took home a bottle of the Sludge Factory for later enjoyment.

Hechalutz Brewery from Beersheva

Best-in-show brewer Gilad Ne-Eman.
Owner Gilad Ne-Eman was still riding on cloud nine following the Best-in-Show award for his Avodah Ivrit ("Hebrew Labor") IPA at the London and South East Brewing Competition.  His prize was unique and exciting: His beer was brewed in England and sold from a cask at the Brewhouse & Kitchen in Islington.

Gilad was proud that "Hebrew beer" was able to make such a strong showing in an international competition.  "Maybe now our craft beer industry will feel free to brew what it wants to," he says, "and not be held back by its fears."  

 Although I don't believe that Israeli brewers have to "prove" themselves to foreign connoisseurs, international recognition does us great honor.  So, way to go, Gilad!

Hechalutz (The Pioneer") IPA
on tap in London.

At the Zman Amiti Festival, I tried the new Hechalutz Belgian Yam Specialty Ale, made with sweet potatoes.  It is also flavored with grains of paradise (African pepper), honey, ginger and coriander.  You would think that this combination would impart a taste of a baked sweet potato pie, but it doesn't.  The yams add to the body of the beer and a sweet, nutty taste.  I thought it was quite successful and would give Gilad another prize.

I brought home two other bottles of Hechalutz beer, the new The Catcher, an American rye ale, and Great White Buffalo, an American brown ale "made with too much espresso."  Still haven't opened them.

Chuck's Brewery in Ra'anana

Chuck's beers and pretzels at Zman Amiti.
The four partners of Chuck's Brewery -- Benny, Rafi, Doron and Lior (Chuck is the name of the dog!) -- were celebrating their first commercial batch of beer.  After home-brewing their beer for about three years, they just brewed their first batch of Irish Red at the Mosco Brewing facility on Moshav Zanoach.

The beer poured out a rich red-amber color and had the aroma of earth and yeast.  The dominant flavor, however, was a caramel malt, what you would expect from an Irish Red ale.

The Chuck boys also had a lemon wheat, an IPA, a blond ale and an amber ale.

Taekwonbeer from Beersheva

Alex Fuks with his Taekwonbeer.
Taekwondo master Alex Fuks combines his passion for the martial arts and beer in the name of his brewery.  I chose to try his Oxford Night, a plum porter which was new to me, even though it's been around for a while.

Alex adds fresh plums to the second fermentation and lets them fizz for three weeks.  The result is a strong chocolate porter with the sourness of plums, if not their flavor. I also detected flavors of prunes or raisins.  I thought it was a delicious alternative to any regular robust porter.

At the end of the day, I had a wonderful time at Zman Amiti, tasting the very different beers of these small breweries.  They are the ones that are experimenting with beer styles and flavor profiles, utilizing different ingredients and combinations, to take beer in new directions.  Most attempts end in failure, but the successes are what all of us are waiting for.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds really good, thanks for giving the info.


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