August 24, 2018

The Great Jerusalem Beer Festival -- August 29-30

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The Jerusalem Beer Festival (Ir HaBira in Hebrew) is returning for its 14th year next week on Thursday and Friday, August 29-30.  A huge fenced-in area in Independence Park will once again be devoted to beer, food, music and great vibes for the two nights.

The old blogger with Eli Giladi.
(Photo: Mike Horton)
Eli Giladi of Giladi Productions, the organizers of the event, promises that at least 120 different kinds of beer will be on sale.  The headliners will be Israeli craft brewers (some 16 of them), but there will also be impressive stands for the well-known Israeli mass-brewed beers (Tuborg and Carlsberg), as well as imported beers from all over the world.

Two craft breweries will be making their first appearances in Jerusalem:

Hagibor ("The Hero") – A new brand from the Meadan Brewery in Carmiel.  They make a Brown Ale, an IPA (India Pale Ale), an Extra Stout and a Bavarian Wheat. 

(Photo Netanel Tobias)
Talpiot Shuk Brewery – A two-year-old brewery and art gallery in Haifa which serves beer and food.  Owners and brewers Anat Mirkin and Arik Granot are looking forward to introducing their beers to Jerusalemites, but they have no intention of marketing their beers country-wide.  "We're doing it for the fun of it," says Mirkin.  They will be pouring a Lager, an IPA, and a Belgian Dark Ale.  

Two new beers from craft breweries will be introduced at the festival:

From Barzel Beer on Kibbutz Ha'ogen comes Effi, an IPA with citrus and piney flavors.  The beer is made at the Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer. 

(Photo Netanel Tobias)
The Dancing Camel Brewery in Tel Aviv, Israel's first craft brewery, is introducing The Seven C's, a collaboration with the Freak'N Brewing Co. in Peoria, Arizona.  The beer is a New England-style IPA, known for its fruity sweetness and creamy body, and very popular now in the U.S.  The C's refer to the seven varieties of hops, all beginning with the letter "C," which are used for the brewing of this beer, and which add the fruitiness without much bitterness.

There are some other interesting beers that you should be looking out for at the festival:

(Photo: Mike Horton)
Oak & Ash, which shares facilities with the Dancing Camel, will be serving their limited edition Freedom Imperial IPA, very bitter, fruity and strong (10% alcohol by volume).  Also on tap is their new Braggot, made with honey and hibiscus tea.  It's on the cusp between a beer and a honey mead, with flavors of rosé wine, fruit and honey.   

Shapiro Brewery in Beit Shemesh is also offering an IPA, their 2018 version brewed with Citra hops.  Another great beer being poured by Shapiro is their Imperial Chocolate Barrel-Age Porter, introduced in very limited quantities only a few months ago.  It's a dark, chocolatey, roasty and alcoholic porter, better suited for the cold Jerusalem winters than the warm summer nights – but definitely worth a taste.      
HaDubim ("The Bears") Brewery will be pouring their new Love Ale, with its rainbow colored label as a sign of solidarity with Israel's LGBT community.  It's a mildly bitter amber ale with tastes of caramel, and citrus and tropical fruits.  Brewed at the Beer Bazaar Mivshelet Ha'aretz in Kiryat Gat.

On tap from the Tog Brewery in Beersheva (brewed at the Beer Bazaar Mivshelet Ha'aretz in Kiryat Gat) is Beera Masala, a Belgian wheat beer brewed with the Indian spices used to make masala tea.

(Photo Netanel Tobias)
Music is very much a part of beer festivals, and the Jerusalem Beer Festival goes all out.  Performing on Wednesday night (August 29) are The Giraffes, Mercedes Band and the Full Trunk.  On Thursday night (August 30), Nechi Nech, Sima Noon and the Paz Band will take the stage.   
Entry to the Jerusalem Beer Festival costs NIS 70 on the days of the festival, but you can buy advance tickets online at a discount.  Soldiers and students get a little bigger discount.  Go to: for more information.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
If you live in or around Jerusalem, you love beer and you're over 18, you simply can't miss the Jerusalem Beer Festival.  Even if you're not a great fan of beer (I think I may know a few of these), you should still attend for the other drinks, the food, music and atmosphere – and to discover close-up what great people beer-lovers are.

Here are some tips, based on actual experience:

·        Take public transportation.  It's not easy to find parking, and you don't want to drive home anyway after enjoying a few beers.
(Photo: Mike Horton)
·        Get there shortly after the gates open at 6 p.m. if you want some leisurely time to walk around, drink your beer and speak with the brewers and your friends.  When the music starts at 9:30, the noise can put an end to polite conversation.   
·        Eat some carbs and fatty foods before the festival.  Pizza and pasta, for example, are good choices.  These slow down the absorption of alcohol and let you sample more beers.  Also, drink water between beers and have something to eat during the festival as well.  There will be several food stands. 
·        Reconnoiter before you start drinking.  Make a mental note or a real note of the beers you're interested in, and then go back to taste them.  (Bringing along a pen or pencil is also a good idea since you may want to write down things to remember.) 
·        Try beers you're not familiar with.  This is the perfect place to expand your repertoire.  Don't be ashamed to speak with the brewers and ask questions.  You don't have to be a beer geek to learn more about beer.                
(Photo: Mike Horton)
·        Don't feel you have to try everything or that you have to finish a beer you don't like.  That's what the grass is for.  "Just one more" adds up fast to become "way too much."  Keep it moderate, have a good time, and get home safe.   

             [A similar version of this article appears in In Jerusalem
                the local weekly newspaper of The Jerusalem Post.]

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