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.                  


  1. Nice report. Berman's passion is beer and he collects bottles to remember beers he's drunk (and in some cases rare bottles purely for the hobby's sake). My passion is running, and I cherish the medals, race shirts, bib numbers, and occasional trophies from the races I compete in. Travelers collect coins from countries they visit, first day covers of historic figures and events, and so on. I wonder what it says about us, this clinging to material and to memory.

    1. Very deep stuff, amiracle. And the answer, as they say, is above my pay scale. But there does seem to be something in the human species pushing us to collect memories, or reminders of memories.

  2. Anonymous3/12/2017

    Make me thirsty

  3. I would never have guessed...


Thanks for your comment. L'chayim!