September 29, 2015

More Fridays at the Glen Whisky Bar -- Part 1

Bartender Shmuel Naky serves the sleeveless
old blogger (it was the Middle Eastern
summer after all) at the Glen Whisky Bar.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Last summer, the Glen Whisky Bar on Shlomzion Hamalka Street in Jerusalem started to host different home-brewers every Friday morning.  It was a lovely idea and it gave beer-lovers and bar-patrons a chance to try new beers and to meet and speak with the people making them.  I wrote about a few of these ambitious brewers, which you can read here.

I'm happy to report that this summer the Glen Bar has continued the tradition.  These events are organized by owner Leon Schwartz and bartenders Tom Castel and Shmuel Naky.

I wasn't able to be there every week, but I was there enough times to meet the following intrepid home-brewers:

1) Eli Cohen and Gal Amedi

Eli and Gal from Jerusalem don't even have a name or symbol or label for their beers.  However, since Eli once worked at one of the bigger craft breweries (he has since left to study mechanical engineering) and Gal still works at another brewery, they've been able to make their beers at those professional facilities.

They were pouring three of their beers from bottles on the day I was there.
Eli Cohen and Gal Amedi pour their beers
for the Friday morning crowd.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

Vanilla Porter -- A very satisfying porter beer which is dry hopped with real vanilla beans.  This means they are steeped in the beer during fermentation.  I appreciate the taste of vanilla in a porter or stout, but in this case, I think the roasty taste of the malt hid too much of the vanilla.  There was also a slight burnt taste, which I liked, and a sour finish.

Spiced Wheat -- A very light beer with the color, sparkle and dryness of champagne.  Orange peel and mint are added to the wheat ale base, and these flavors are quite noticeable.  The mint additive was a first for me, and I believe was very successful.  I also detected a taste of nutmeg.  Though I am not a great wheat beer fancier, I enjoyed this beer a lot.

Summer Ale -- A light-bodied and refreshing beer for the hottest days.  Not especially high on flavor or other distinctions.

I told Eli and Gal to put some thought into choosing a name and a brand.  It will make a difference not only for the drinkers, but also for themselves as brewers.

2) Hechter Beer

Raz Hechter is a home-brewer who's given his name and caricature of red chin whiskers to his beers. He's been brewing for three-and-a-half years in Beersheva, where he's in the home-brewing guild and takes part in local competitions.  

Liron and Raz.
"This is the first time I'm selling my beer to strangers," Raz, 30, tells me on this summer morning.  Standing next to him is his girlfriend Liron Chiki from Kfar Saba. 

Raz began making beer when he got a brewing kit as a birthday present and took a half-day brewing course.  "That's all it took to hook me," he says.  He's now working on his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Ben-Gurion University.

I tasted the three beers Raz was pouring:

Turbulent Ale -- A very hoppy and strong (6.7% alcohol by volume), dark copper beer which Raz admits resulted from a mistake.  "My boiler broke in the middle of my brewing and in order to save the batch, I added a lot more Cascade hops."  Isn't that why you have to love home-brewers?
Raz Hechter's beer and cider menu,
with his distinctive caricature logo.

Instead of a pale ale, Turbulent came out dark and strong, with lots of fruity hops aroma and flavor.  I liked it, and would classify its taste as a spirited, fruity IPA.

Florale Litchi-Hibiscus -- At 5% ABV, this is a light saison-style beer which Raz infuses with Wissotzky Litchi Tea with Hibiscus a few minutes before the end of the boil.  It has a grassy aroma and I found it full-bodied with the taste of apricots and sour fruits.  This was nicely balanced by the malt sweetness.  

However, since I'm really not a litchi eater, I could not detect the taste.  All-in-all, a nice refreshing beer that would probably go well with light sharp cheese or spicy Middle Eastern dishes.

Florale Chamomile -- Similar to Hechter's Litchi-Hibiscus, but infused with chamomile tea.  Also, less flavorful.  5.5% ABV.

Raz says he wants to expand his repertoire of beers and find other outlets for reaching the beer-buying public, which I think are both excellent ideas. 

3) Lanner Beer

Boaz Lanner is no stranger to beer festivals and public gatherings.  This talented home-brewer concentrates on classical beer styles, which he tweaks and adjusts to make them ever better.  

Boaz Lanner (right) hosts the old blogger.
"The sky's the limit."
I asked Boaz if he's going to stay a home-brewer or take it to the next level.  "Well, I'm retiring from my work in high-tech in the middle of 2017," he answered, "and then you never know.  The sky's the limit."

Boaz was serving two beers that morning:

Brown Porter -- With a medium body and strong coffee notes, this is surprisingly dry and crisp, not to be confused with other porters you might have had recently.  Add to this an  ABV of only 4.2% and it's easy to understand why this is the kind of beer I can drink all day long -- but I'll restrain myself.       

Wheat Beer -- Another Lanner classic, this time a hefeweizen-style wheat beer.  I detected a sour grass aroma, along with the expected cloves and banana.  Although wheat beers are not my favorite go-to beers (Have I mentioned this already?), I enjoyed this tart and dry beer with low hop bitterness and low hop flavor.  The alcoholic content is 5.25%.  When I asked Boaz why he measures the alcohol down to a hundredth of a percent, he laughed: "Because I can."     

It was a pleasure to meet up with Boaz Lanner again and drink his beers while he explained about them.  I did the same with other home-brewers at the Glen Bar on Friday mornings, and I will continue with these brief reports in the future. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You're making me thirsty for another tasting. How can I get that mint beer? It sounds like a dream for me. I love mint.


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