March 23, 2016

Collaboration Beer brewed in Munich

Late last month, Maor Helfman and Itai Gutman of Herzl Beer in Jerusalem, flew to Munich to brew a collaborative beer with their German counterparts at the Crew Republic Brewery.  (To get more background information, please read my previous post here.) 
Itai Gutman (left), Maor Helfman and Timm Schnigula
get together to brew their collaborative beer.

© Jewish Museum Munich (photo: Vivi d'Angelo)

The as-yet-unnamed beer will be unveiled to the public on April 13 at the opening of an exhibit at the Munich Jewish Museum, called "Beer is the Wine of this Land: Jewish Brewing Tales."  

The exhibit marks the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot, the famous Bavarian beer purity decree.

"Some 2,500 liters of our beer is now fermenting and conditioning at the Craft Republic Brewery," Maor Helfman told me after he returned to Israel.  

"When we planned our joint Israeli-German beer, we knew we had to obey the Reinheitsgebot, which demands that beer only contain grain, water, hops and yeast.  So we couldn't add an 'Israeli ingredient' like oranges, date honey, pomegranates, etc.
Side one of the new beer
coaster shows the
logos of the Crew
Republic and Herzl . . .

© Jewish Museum Munich

"We decided to make a 'steam beer,' which would take a typical German lager, normally fermented at 8-12 degrees centigrade (46-540 F) and ferment it at a higher temperature associated with Israel -- in this case, 14-18 degrees centigrade (57-640 F)."   

This is called a "steam beer" or a "California common beer" since the style was made popular in California beginning in the mid-1800s.  Modern refrigeration was not available, and in order to cool the wort quickly before fermentation, it was poured into large, shallow trays to catch the breezes coming from the Pacific Ocean.  The "steam" refers to the mist which hovered over the open trays of beer while it was fermenting.
 . . . and side two has the
name of the exhibit:
"Beer is the Wine of
this Land."

© Jewish Museum Munich

Steam beers are normally characterized by assertive hoppiness together with a strong malty character and fruit tastes.  Since it combines lager yeast with ale fermentation temperatures, steam beer is generally clear and crisp like a lager, but also full-bodied like an ale.  I should add that the expectations for this beer are high.

The collaborative beer was brewed with German Pilsner malts, Hallertau and East Kent Golding hops, and fresh yeast from the famous Weihenstephan Brewery in Germany.

Maor and Itai worked on the beer with the two partners of the Crew Republic Brewery, Timm Schnigula and Mario Hanl.  
The new labels of the
collaborative beer.

© Jewish Museum Munich
(photo: Vivi d'Angelo)

"They just moved into a new brewery which is amazing," Maor said.  "All the equipment is the most modern and completely automated.  It was wonderful to work with such dedicated brewers and I can say we learned a lot."

The new labels for the collaborative beer have already been printed up, and here is the translation from the German:

Collaboration Brew: Inspired by the Jewish Museum in Munich and on the occasion of the exhibition "Beer is the Wine of this Land," we have brewed this special beer together with the Herzl Brewery from Jerusalem.  This amber colored steam beer is fermented with a traditional bottom fermenting yeast from Bavaria at warm temperatures that are typical for Israel.  And of course we did not forget to add a nice hoppy note.  Brewed and bottled by us for you at the Crew Republic Brewery, Andreas Danzer Weg 30, UnterschleiƟheim.

Maor won't reveal anything more about the beer, so I guess I'll just have to wait unti the Grand Exhibit Opening and the Grand Collaborative Beer Launch on April 12, when I plan to be there in Munich.
Conrad Seidl, the "Beer Pope," takes his
first taste of the wort.  What is he thinking?

© Jewish Museum Munich (photo: Vivi d'Angelo)

Maor and Itai will be joining my wife Trudy and me there, as will those two fervent champions of Israel craft beer, Bernhard Purin, the museum director, and Conrad Seidl, the "Beer Pope" from Vienna.

Stay tuned.         

March 7, 2016

Jem's IPA and Herzl Krembo arrive on the scene

Two new beers from Israeli craft breweries have come to market recently – both representing strong, bold styles, but with a twist.

The first is an IPA (India Pale Ale) from Jem's Beer Factory in Petach Tikva. 

Regular beer didn't last the four-six
month trip from England to India.
IPA is probably the most popular craft beer style in the world today.  Some beer historians believe that the style evolved in 18th century Britain, when the regular pale ales being shipped to British soldiers and civilians in colonial India spoiled during the long sea voyage.  Brewers found that by adding a lot more hops to the recipe, as well as extra yeast and sugars, the stronger beer arrived fit for consumption.

The style also caught on in England, where beer drinkers appreciated the spicy and refreshing bitterness of IPAs.  The extra portion of hops, which are little green flowers or "seed cones," add bitterness to the aroma and flavor of the beer, along with citrusy, fruity, spicy or piney tastes.

"We thought that the Israeli market has become mature enough for the taste of an IPA," says Jeremy Welfeld, one of the partners of Jem's Beer Factory.  "Still, in deference to the Israeli palate, we kept away from the extreme bitter taste you get in some American and European IPAs." 

Welfeld added that his IPA is made with six different hops from all over the world, and with Cara Pils malted barley from Wisconsin, known for adding body and head retention to beer.  Alcohol by volume is 6%.

Around seven of the larger, commercial Israeli craft breweries now make an IPA, proving the growing popularity of this style.  Several of the smaller, local breweries also have their versions of India pale ale.

Although I have never tasted the draft version of Jem's IPA, I was told it's very different from the bottled beer.  My short review below refers only to the bottles of beer with a "Best By" date of August 3, 2017 (this is what's written, but it probably is a mistake and should be 2016).     

Jem's IPA pours out of the bottle very pale and cloudy, the color you may expect from a wheat beer, with a thin creamy head.  There's an aroma of grapefruit and grass, but not of hops.  Even in the taste, the hop bitterness is very understated, but you do get tropical fruits, perhaps pineapple and banana, and floral spices.

In short, this beer is not really an IPA by the hopped-up standards of today, but more like a pale ale or even a wheat beer with some extra hops.  It's a dry beer, light and very carbonated.  

Looks like a crembo,
tastes like a crembo . . . 
The second new beer is from the Herzl Brewery in Jerusalem, and it's intended for the colder months of the year.  It's named Crembo -- after the iconic Israeli confection which is eaten only in the winter, probably because it would melt down to a gummy syrup in the summer months.  This Israeli contribution to the culinary arts is basically a chocolate-covered fluffy marshmallow on a biscuit base.  Israeli kids, and not a few adults, devour them in huge numbers every winter.    

Herzl's Crembo beer is called a "milk stout" (also known as "cream stout" or "sweet stout") because it is made with lactose, a sugar derived from milk.  Since lactose is not fermentable by beer yeast, which means the yeast cannot digest it, it stays sweet in the beer and adds body, creaminess – and calories.  In fact, beginning a hundred years ago, milk stouts were believed to be beneficial to nursing mothers because of their nutritious ingredients.  

Crembo: Herzl's winter beer.
For those concerned that the addition of lactose would make Crembo beer a dairy product, you should know that most rabbinic authorities do not consider lactose as dairy, even though it is derived from milk.  This is because it undergoes a process during its extraction from milk which renders it unfit for consumption.      

Maor Helfman, a partner in the Herzl Brewery, explains: "We got the idea for Crembo beer by asking ourselves, 'What is the quintessential Israeli delicacy in the winter?'  The answer is the crembo confection.  So we built a beer around the same flavors which was serious but with a wink towards the fun of a crembo.  Even the blue foil at the top of the bottle duplicates the packaging of a crembo."

To achieve the other flavors, Crembo beer is made with cocoa beans and Madagascar vanilla beans during the fermentation.  At 7.7% alcohol, it's a strong beer.

Crembo pours out black like a good stout should, with a long-lasting tan head.  The dominant aromas are coffee and vanilla, with a whiff of bread.  The chocolate hits you when you take a taste, as does the vanilla.  Those two popular flavors blend together in a very creamy mouthfeel.  Other stouts may have a bitter chocolate taste, but with Crembo it's definitely milk chocolate.  At the bottom of the glass, I noticed flakes of either vanilla or chocolate beans, or maybe both.

My drinking partner exclaimed: "It's as close as a beer can get to ice cream!"

Crembo is a beer experience you don't want to miss, but I'm sorry to say that Herzl has already discontinued brewing it.  There may be a few bottles still on the shelves at your favorite liquor store, so I suggest you get over there and buy them while you still can.