January 25, 2017

Brewing Jem's Black Beauty

"We're going to start brewing our black IPA, the 'Black Beauty,' someday next week.  Why don't you come over and join us?"

It isn't very often that I get invitations like this from breweries.  In fact, it's never that I get invitations like this.

Jeremy "Jem" Welfeld relaxes (for the moment)
at the Jem's Beer Factory cum restaurant
in Petach Tikva.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
So when Jeremy Welfeld, the eponymous partner of Jem's Beer Factory in Petach Tikva, called especially to invite me, I jumped at the chance.

A few days later, photographer Mike Horton and I rode to Petach Tikva so we could be at the start of the brewing.  We were greeted by Jeremy, who gave us a quick tour of the brewery before passing us over to Brewmaster Leiby Chapler.

As I joined in, we prepared a mash tun of pale malt, wheat malt, Caramunich T3 and Carafe T1.  Jeremy told me that the tradition at Jem's is to give the mash a blessing with each stir: "For health!"  "For a good year!"  "For the State of Israel!"  Et cetera.  I was happy to do so.  After the wort (pre-fermented liquid) was transferred to the kettle, we added Cascade, Citra and Equinox hops for a batch of 900 liters.

The old blogger stirring the mash tun for Black Beauty
under the watchful eye of Jem's Brewmaster Leiby Chapler.

(Photo: Mike Horton) 

Jeremy told me that he brewed a version of the Black Beauty several years ago, but that this was a different recipe.  It will not be bottled, but will be kegged for selling on tap.  (It may alternatively be called "Winter Special.")  He promised that I would get to taste some in Jerusalem when the beer is ready.  I have high expectations.

The hops, the yeast and the wort:
Mix them all together and out will come Black Beauty.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
The Black IPA will be sold in Jem's pubs and restaurants as a specialty beer, joining the IPA and Berry Ale.  In addition, Jem's brews six core beers: Amber Ale, Pils, Dark Lager, Stout, 8.8 (Belgian Ale), and Wheat Beer.  (For more background on Jem's, please read my previous post here.)

Jeremy also said that Jem's is continuing to expand its brewing and restaurant operations.  In addition to the current four restaurant locations in Petach Tikva, Ra'anana, Kfar Saba and Ramat Hachayal, Jem's is looking forward to open up three more this year: Modi'in, Caesarea and Netanya.  The brewery facilities are also undergoing expansion, and will reach the capability of brewing 450,000 liters of beer in 2017, up from 350,000 last year.

Lunchtime at the Jem's Beer Factory and Restaurant in Petach Tikva.
(Photo: Mike Horton)
Before Mike and I left, we were treated to a wonderful lunch with beer tastings at the restaurant.  No cigars, no pink champagne -- but delicious food and beer in a convivial atmosphere.  Jem's combination of craft beer and restaurants is a winner on the Israeli scene.  May they continue to grow, along with our thirst for craft beer.

And if you're ever in a place where someone mentions Jem's Black Beauty or Winter Special, tell 'em that the old blogger had a hand in it.              

January 8, 2017

Coming soon: Stout Beer Tasting Panel

After an embarrassingly long hiatus (or is it hibernation?), the Israeli Brews and Views Beer Tasting Panel is springing back to action.  Mobilization orders went out to our Esteemed Judges, some veteran and some new, and they all answered "Affirmative."

This time we will be tasting Stout beers from Israeli craft breweries.  Quite a few Israeli breweries have a stout in their repertoire.  The style's popularity was probably spurred by the easy availability of Guinness stout in Israel, exposing the locals to this dark and pungent beer for many years.  But if you ask me, Israeli stouts quickly surpassed Guinness, and we are looking forward to tasting and comparing the best of these on the market today.

We are bypassing "stouts plus," stouts with something extra such as oatmeal, smoked, milk sugar and imperial, which are also on the Israeli market.  In fact, we hope to get to those at a later date.  But for now, we are concentrating on regular stouts, also known as Irish or English stouts.  These are black-as-night beers, where you should expect full, roasty tastes, some astringency and a dry finish.  The hop character should be very low, while the bitterness comes from the roasted barley itself.  The distinctive flavors can be chocolate and/or coffee, of course, but also caramel, dark fruits like plums or prunes, and even licorice.

Our panel of judges, chosen to represent the tastes of people like you and me, will be trying six Israeli stouts and reporting their opinions back to you.     

In order not to miss the results of our tasting panel, I strongly urge you to sign up now as a subscriber.  Just type your e-mail in the little box in the right-hand column where it says, "Sign up for updates" and press "Submit."  It's free, and always will be.

See how they rank.  Read how they taste.  Keep it right here -- at Israel Brews and Views.