June 13, 2017

Jerusalem Craft Beer Fair -- Part Two: The Home-Brewers

[See Part One: The Commercial Brewers here.]

The next morning there were eight home-brewers who had come to serve their beers.  These and many more had entered their beers in the first Beerateinu home-brewers competition and they were hoping to bring home a prize.

To our fortune, two of the brewers there won first prizes, including Best-in-Show, so I was able to taste some winning beers.

Winners should go first, so I'll begin with those who won in each category.

Best-in-Show and
American & Strong Ales

Yoav Tal with his three awards, including
Best-in-Show for his Pale Ale. 

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Yoav Tal from Ein Karem near Jerusalem, won for his Pale Ale, which he calls Zahav Parvayim ("Fine Gold" in Hebrew).  Yoav has been home-brewing for about three years and has dedicated the last year to experimenting with pale ales, which are his favorite.  He prefers these to some of the ultra-hoppy IPAs, whose taste he compares to "eating hop pellets."  Zahav Parvayim is the result of this work, and he's delighted that his efforts earned him Best-in-Show.  Yoav has a Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience from Hebrew University and is doing research in that area.  Don't ask me to tell you what it is.    

Zahav Parvayim pours a light gold color and packs a delicious punch of hop aromas.  The flavor, however, is lighter on the hops and stronger with malt, offering fruits (possibly raisins), citrus and caramel.  It has a crisp and bitter finish, perfect for this pale ale.  Yoav estimates the alcoholic volume to be 6% to 6.5%.  Even though this is a winning recipe, Yoav says he will continue to experiment and tweak it to achieve even better results.          

By the way, Yoav also submitted a Saison-style beer which won second prize in the Classic European category.  It was brewed with carrot and fennel, which sounds interesting, but I must admit that I found the taste to be more like a classic wheat ale than a saison.

British Ales

Daniel Strauss of Jerusalem took first place in both of these categories, with his Oatmeal Stout and his Irish Red (I'm not sure how the Irish would like being included in the British Ales category!).  He has only been home-brewing for about six months.

Daniel Strauss, winner of two first prizes,
introduces the old blogger to his beers.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Daniel told me that his Oatmeal Stout was based on a basic recipe he received from Shmuel Naky, co-owner of Beerateinu, with the addition of "some old malt extract that I found lying around my place.  That makes it kind of hard to repeat."

Since I didn't have a chance to taste the original winner, it means I probably never will.  Daniel says, however, that he is trying to replicate it as close as possible to the original in order to brew it regularly.  About his Irish Red, I may still get a chance to taste it, since he does brew it on a regular basis because "it's in demand by family and friends."

No one is more surprised than Daniel that his only two entries in this competition won first prizes.  "For me," he says, "the main thing was getting together with other people who love to brew beer, drinking some good beers with them, and getting some very helpful feedback from the judges."

The two other first prize winners who were not there were Yisrael Atlow (Safhal Brewery) whose Lager won in the Classic European category, and Aleksey Radionov whose Pinocchio (a blend of Imperial stout and Saison styles) took home the gold in the Freestyle category.

Among the other brewers on display were:

Bashir Assad's three beers on display.
(Photo: Mike Horton)
Bashir Assad (yes, that's his name!) of Jerusalem, calls his home-brewery Hops & Stones.  He was serving his English Bitter Ale, Ginger Ale, and an amazing Arabic Coffee Stout, brewed with cardamon and Arabic coffee. He shoulda been a contender.

Dor Chen of Jerusalem, who had a surprising smoky beer made with Lapsang Souchong tea and molasses.  It was a stroke of genius, I thought, as the naturally smoky tea added just enough acidity and smoky flavor to the beer.  Another "shoulda-been," as far as I'm concerned.

Yedidya Revach (right) and girlfriend Shai
with the award for their Smoked Stout.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Yedidya Revach and his girlfriend Shai, calling themselves the Yedid ("Friend") Brewery.  Yedidya is from Mitzpe Netofa in the Lower Galilee, and has been home-brewing for 5 1/2 years.  They were serving a gluten-free beer, where the gluten was chemically removed from the barley, a Smoked Stout (which won second prize in the Freestyle category) and a Smoked Light Stout.

Sarel Rich from Moshav Ora near Jerusalem has a home meadery he calls Sar-Ale.  He makes several kinds of mead (honey-based liquors) and was serving two: One included kumquats and the other in which he he used hops for the first time.  An interesting innovation,

Comrades Dimitry and Sergei (maybe that's why
they're dressed in red!) and Josh Golbert
pouring their home-brews.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
The Comrades Brewery (Dimitry and Sergei of Jerusalem) were next, with their Gold Ale which won second prize in the British Ales category.  It was not very hoppy and on the sweetish side.

Last up was the team of Josh Golbert (originally from LA, now from Armon Hanatziv in Jerusalem) and Arnon Turner (from Kfar Bin Nun in the Ayalon Valley).  They were offering a Pale Ale, a Milk Stout, an Abbey Wheat with apple cider, and a Belgian Blond Ale.

By choosing to exhibit at the Fair, these home-brewers have taken a brave step which opens themselves up to criticism, while bringing their beers to the public.  We wish them all success -- and congratulations to the winners.    

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