March 30, 2017

Kosher for Passover beer to America

We've been following Bryan Meadan for a few years.  First, as a home-brewer and contract brewer of gluten-free beer (please see here); then as a commercial brewer of Israel's only kosher-for-Passover beer (here).

Well, this year, Bryan took another giant step -- across a continent, an ocean, and another continent.

He's exporting to California and giving American Jews their first taste of kosher-for-Passover beer. "This year is only a test," Bryan acknowledged.  "We sent only 60 cases (1,440 bottles) of Bitter Date Ale and 60 cases of Amber Date Ale.  They'll be sold in select stores in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas."

These ales are not new to Meadan Brewery, which was opened in 2015 in Carmiel.  They are both based on date honey (silan), meaning they are gluten-free and legume-free, making them kosher-for-Passover for all Jewish ethnic groups and communities.

"The Bitter Date Ale has more hops than the Amber Date," Bryan revealed, "but other than that, they are basically very similar.

The first shipment of
Meadan kosher-for-Passover beer
arrives in California!
"We hope that American Jews will be so excited about kosher-for-Passover beer that they will make it a holiday tradition."

In addition to the kosher-for-Passover customers, the beer will also be marketed to people who keep gluten-free diets (such as celiac patients), and as a unique date ale beverage in itself.  Each store will decide how best to market the beer.

Meadan Brewery hasn't forgotten the local market.  This year, 125,000 bottles of the kosher-for-Passover beer have been brewed for sale in Israel before and during the holiday.  "I doubt if that will be enough to meet the demand," Bryan concludes.  "Last year we produced  45,000 bottles, but stores and restaurants ran out during Passover."

If Meadan's kosher-for-Passover beers find a successful market in America, these numbers will seem like drops in the beer barrel.

March 20, 2017

Craft beers on tap in Machane Yehuda

Just two years ago, it wasn't easy to find Israeli craft beers in bars and pubs.  And I'm talking about bottles -- much less on tap!

What a difference 24 months make!

Your intrepid old blogger, accompanied by photographer extraordinaire Mike Horton, took several cold night strolls through Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda market -- rapidly becoming the city's new center for night life -- looking for Israeli craft beers on draft (or draught, as Mike would write).  We found them in no less than 17 bars and restaurants.
The numbers on this map of the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem
refer to the bars and restaurants listed below.
(Map created by Mike Horton.) 
Tour Guide Fun Joel Haber ( was fantastic in helping us find the qualifying establishments, though a few might have fallen through our dragnet.  If you know of any that we missed, please let me know.

Here then are the photos of the craft beer taps, the name and address of the bar/restaurant, and the name of the barperson who was there to greet us.  In most cases, you can click on the name of the establishment and go to its Facebook page, where you can learn more about each one.

Like all eating establishments in Machane Yehuda, these places are kosher, although with different certifications.  Some are full-blown restaurants; others serve pub grub, or only alcohol.  This is mentioned in the names below each photograph.

Since the market is a maze of streets, lanes and alleyways making it almost impossible to list the locations in any logical geographical order, we decided to use the English alphabet instead.

The map above shows all locations with their identifying number.  You can save this map on your computer and then print it out for easy use.  In the near future, we also hope to bring you a more detailed and interactive map which you can download directly to your smartphone.

We hope this helps get you out into the Machane Yehuda market and into enjoying Israeli craft beers in their natural setting.

Agrippas Bar and Grill
56 Etz Chaim
Kineret pumping Dictator Irish Red Ale
(four Jem's beers are also on tap.)

Number 1 on the map.

Bardak Pizza
4 Beit Yakov
Tal behind the all-Israeli-craft taps.

Number 2.

Beer Bazaar (pub and restaurant)
3 Etz Chaim
You can hardly see Shiri behind the Israeli craft taps.

Number 3.

Crave Gourmet Street Food
1 Hashikma
Naomi with Alexander Blazer and Beer Bazaar Bhindi.
They also have a very flavorful light pilsner on tap
made by Alexander Brewery exclusively for Crave.
They call it "Pure Love" -- 5.2% alcohol and highly recommended!

Number 4.

Hachapuria -- Georgian Bakery
5 Hashikma
Two Shapiro beers on tap.

Number 5.
Hashechena -- Dairy Restaurant
11 Beit Yakov
Ana'el is hiding behind Alexander, Shapiro and Herzl.

Number 6.

Ishtabach Middle Eastern restaurant
1 Hashikma
Hila pumping Mosco beer.

Number 7.

La Cornerie bar and coffee shop
40 Etz Chaim
Shira serving Madam Cornerie,
a private label beer from the Srigim Brewery.

Number 8.

Meorav Yerushalmi mixed grill
14 Ha'egoz
Assaf behind the Bazelet taps.

Number 9.

Michmoret Fish Restaurant
7 Hatoot
Adi is the bartender; Bazelet on tap.

Number 10.

O'Connell in the Shuk (pub and restaurant)
63 Etz Chaim
Sivan behind the Herzl 6% Kapara tap.

Number 11.
Que Pasa Tapas Bar
9 Ha'egoz
Yaniv behind the taps of all the beers from the Srigim Brewery:
Ronen and Emek Ha'ela.

Number 12.

Roasters Coffee Bar
20 Afarsek
Omri pumping two Shapiro beers.

Number 13.

Shuka Bar
17 Ha'egoz
Dhyan and his dreadlocks behind the Shapiro beer taps.

Number 14.

Steam Kitchen and Bar
26 Ha'egoz
Nati with four Mosco beer taps.

Number 15.

Sushiyuda sushi restaurant
69 Etz Chaim
Timor pumps a Bazelet pale ale.

Number 16.

Time Bar & Coffee
8 Etz Chaim
Shlomi behind the Alexander and Shapiro taps.

Number 17.

March 13, 2017

The famous beer lecture returns -- March 20

If you find yourself in or around Jerusalem next Monday, March 20, please stop in to the Beer Bazaar and hear my (now) famous lecture on the history of beer in the Middle East -- followed by a guided tasting of three Israeli craft beers.  I've already given this lecture a few times in English and Hebrew -- this time it's in English -- and it seems like the audience and I have had a good time together.  My talk is accompanied by the excellent slides of photographer and graphic artist Mike Horton.  (You can read some background on the lecture here.)

The lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Beer Bazaar, 3 Etz Chaim Street in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda market.  The entrance fee is 30 shekels if you order your ticket in advance (use the link below) or 40 shekels if you pay at the door.  The entrance fee includes a third-of-a-liter of beer, which you can enjoy while I'm talking, in addition to the tastings at the end.

So sign up and come out for an evening well spent.  Hope to see you there.

March 12, 2017

1,300 bottles of beer on the wall

Yitzhak Berman started drinking beer on his frequent business trips to Europe for the same reason the medieval monks drank their doppelbock "shtarkbier" during Lent: The beer was a kind of "liquid bread" that gave them sustenance.

Beer bottle collector Yitzhak Berman with
"some" of his Israeli beers.
The monks drank it because they weren't allowed to eat solid food during Lent.  Yitzhak drank it because it was the only plentiful food he could find that he knew was kosher!

"I figured, as long as I was drinking so many beers, I might as well start collecting the bottles and cans," explains Yitzhak.  "At first, it was Belgian beers, then I added Austrian, then all of Europe."

That was 20 years ago.  Today, Yitzhak's collection has over 1,300 bottles and cans from 74 countries, including 400 from Israel.  He keeps them on shelves all over his house in Beit El.  "And my collection keeps on growing," Yitzhak adds.  "I'm always looking for new beers here in Israel and when I travel abroad, and my friends know to bring me beers from all over the world."

Yitzhak Berman meets the old blogger
at the Beer Bazaar in Jerusalem.
One thing Yitzhak, who came on aliya from Brooklyn in 1968,  hasn't done is to try to connect with other "breweriana" collectors in Israel.  I know there are others, since I have met some during my beer escapades around the country.  In fact, in 2014, beer-stuff collector Ralph Mendel was well on his way towards organizing the First International Breweriana Convention in Jerusalem -- when the summer war in Gaza ended any hopes of foreign collectors coming here.

I am sometimes amazed at the passion shown by collectors like Yitzhak and Ralph, yet why should I be?  Isn't it just another extension of the rush that we -- me and you, dear readers -- feel when we find, drink and appreciate good beer?  These collectors want to hold on to that feeling in some tangible way, and I can understand that.  So more power to them.  Perhaps the Yitzhaks and the Ralphs can link up in some way and form an Israeli breweriana collectors association.  It would certainly be a colorful addition to the Israeli craft beer scene.

In the meantime, Yitzhak asked me to help spread the word that he is on the lookout for bottles from the Coney Island Brewery in Brooklyn, as well as a bottle of Alef Alef Beer, made in Israel beginning in 1952.  If you can help him, please let me know.  Click on the link on the right-hand side where it says: "Write to me: Click here!"  Also, if you're a collector or a would-be collector and would like to correspond with Yitzhak, I'll be happy to put you in touch.