October 26, 2016

Newbies at BEERS 2016 -- Part 1

Few would dispute that the premier beer event in Israel is the annual BEERS Exhibit in Tel Aviv.  It brings together the mightiest of Israeli and international brewers, Israeli micro-breweries of all sizes, and even home-brewers who care enough to to bring their beers to the public's attention (and can afford to rent space).
(Photo: David Silverman) 

This year was the sixth BEERS Exhibit and it was held at the Train Station (Hatachana) in the Neveh Tzedek neighborhood.  About 200 different beers were available for the visitors.  This year I made a conscious decision not to try them all.  

I was an invited guest, but due to my general inability to time things accurately, I arrived at the Station before the official opening, earlier than the invitees were told to show up.  That actually gave me time to walk around while folks were still setting up, and to begin what I had come for:

     1) To have a good time;
     2) To dig up some news for my curious readers;
     3) To find and taste some new beers which are coming to market.

The Exhibit was well laid out, with all sizes of stands for brewers and importers, food vendors (although more thought should have been given for those beer enthusiasts who do not eat animals), and a stage for musical performances.
(Photo: David Silverman) 

An interesting innovation was a kind of "time-sharing" table for home-brewers.  The table was large enough to hold five of them, and each one rented a place for about two hours.  Thus in the course of each evening, 15 home-brewers poured their beers; 45 over the three days of the Exhibit.

Now, on to the beer!

Writers like to be on the lookout for trends, but to tell the truth, this time I didn't see any.  There were many new beers unveiled at the Exhibit, some headed for general distribution, others only for the event.  But they represented different styles, with no clear advantage going to hop-forwards, malt-forwards, wheats, Belgians, lights or darks.


Rotem Bar-Ilan pumping the first glass of
Grizzly Double IPA for the old blogger
at BEERS 2016.
The first new beer I tried was Grizzly, a re-issued Double IPA from HaDubim ("The Bears") Brewery, which is making a comeback after being closed for about a year.  Brother-owners Rotem and Dagan Bar-Ilan are now brewing their beers at the Mivshelet Ha'aretz ("The Land Brewery") in Kiryat Gat, originally used by Negev Beer and now owned by the Beer Bazaar chain of pubs, which brews its own line of beers there.    

Grizzly is a good name for this aggressive IPA.  Alcohol by volume is a powerful 8.6%, and it is loaded with Simcoe, Summit and Chinook hops which produce a whopping 100 IBU (International Bitterness Units).  Color is a hazy amber-orange with a very thin white head and very light carbonation.  The fruit and spice hop aroma alone will knock your socks off.  Flavors include citrus and tropical fruits, especially mango, and caramel.  We liked the playing off of these sweet fruits with the extreme bitterness of the hops.  The finish is very dry and bitter.  If this is how you like your beers, you should give Grizzly a try. 

Last month, the HaDubim guys introduced their first two new beers since they restarted brewing:

The Doctor is an American pale ale with a grassy and citrusy hop aroma.  This is a very bitter beer, from the start to the finish, but the light body and low alcoholic content (4.8%) make it a refreshing summer beer, even when you're having more than one.

The India pale ale is named Phoenix, in honor, of course, of the brewery's resurrection.  It pours out a lovely reddish-orange color, quite cloudy, and has an aroma of pine, citrus and other fruits.  In the taste, the fruits and citrus take a back seat to the strong bitterness, although Phoenix has a good malt backbone as well.  At 6.3% alcohol, it is a well-balanced IPA, bitter as it should be and with a dry finish.

It's good to have The Bears back on the Israeli craft beer scene.  They have brewed some wonderful beers in the past, and after their auspicious return, we should expect some more in the future. 

Happy Hour in Sodom        

The Dancing Camel's David Cohen (right)
shares a beer with Jeremy Welfeld
of Jem's Beer Factory.

(Photo: David Silverman)
What a name for Dancing Camel's new beer!  Happy Hour in Sodom -- a salty caramel porter.  This is the Israeli version of a collaborative beer that owner David Cohen made with the Schoppe Bräu brewery in Berlin.  In both cases, salt from the Dead Sea is used to balance the chocolate and caramel sweetness of the malt. 

Happy Hour is a very dark brown color with a mild chocolate aroma.  Surprisingly, all of the flavors in this 6% ABV beer are subdued.  It's not like eating a chocolate-covered pretzel that is very sweet and very salty.  Even though the flavors are much more subtle, the balance is maintained.  In fact, I would have preferred to have the flavors more pronounced.  Nevertheless, this is a very enjoyable beer that manages to twist your tastes in different directions.      

Madam Cornerie

Ofer Ronen of Srigim Brewery (makers of Ronen Beer and Emek Ha'ela Beer) introduced me to Madam Cornerie, a private label beer sold only on tap at the La Cornerie coffee bar and pub in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda market.  I was ecstatic.  Of all the beer joints in all the towns in all the world, Madam Cornerie walks into the Machane Yehuda shuk in Jerusalem!      
Madam Cornerie makes her appearance at the
Srigim Brewery stand at BEERS 2016.

(Photo: David Silverman) 
Madam Cornerie is a cousin of Emek Ha'ela's Belgian Tripel beer, normally brewed at 9.2% ABV, ratcheted up slightly to 9.5% ABV.  When I drank it in its natural environment, the shuk, I had to contend with wafts of cigarette smoke and a competing panorama of fragrances.  Still, the aroma of this Belgian-style beer came through loud and clear: malt and chocolate.  The mouthfeel is smooth and full bodied, with the taste of caramel and alcohol.  

In fact, that's my one little gripe with this beer.  I prefer my alcohol in beer to be felt but not tasted.  Other than that, Madam Cornerie is a fine Belgian tripel.  So if you find yourself in Machane Yehuda and have a hankering for a beer not available anywhere else in the city -- or in the country, for that matter -- stop into La Cornerie (Etz HaChaim Street) and order a "Madam."

To be continued . . .    


Thanks for your comment. L'chayim!