August 28, 2019

500 Bottles of Israeli Beers on the Wall

A couple of years ago, I wrote about Yitzhak Berman, a collector of beer bottles whose home in Bet El is lined with shelves upon shelves holding empty beer bottles -- over 1,500 to be more specific.  Yitzhak recently informed me that he has reached his 500th bottle of Israeli beer.  "Why don't you write about it," I asked.  And so he did.  Yitzhak's article follows.  By the way, I also learned that there is a special word for Yitzhak's hobby: labeorphilist.

(Read the earlier article here.) 

Part of Yitzhak Berman's collection of
over 500 Israeli beer bottles.
A workman came into my home in Bet El and looked at my collection of beer bottles.  I asked him: which beer do you drink?  His reply: Goldstar.  So I asked him which Goldstar?  He looked at me confused.

The Israeli public is not aware of the massive variety of Israeli beers that exist, including six different Goldstar beers.  I am into beer bottle collecting, not beer tasting.

How many can you identify?
More Israeli beer bottles in
Yitzhak Berman's collection. 
Israeli beers come from several sources:

🔴 Large breweries that produce their own beers or brew beer for others on order.

🔴 Small breweries that have proliferated throughout the country over the last
decade or two.

🔴 Home breweries that come and go.

Of the 502 Israeli beer bottles that I have today, many are no longer made.  Also, I still do not have all the Israeli beers that were made or are in stores.  For example, I am looking for a bottle of Alef-Alef which was produced in the 1950s.  If you know where I can find a bottle of Alef-Alef beer, please let me know.
Beer 48: Beer of the Brave.
Honoring Israel's
War of Independence. 

Many of the beers I have tell an interesting story. Let's look at one.

Beer 48 tells a story of the War of Independence.  On the label is written (my free translation):

When the British mandate came to an end, the soldier Mike Flanagan, an Irishman who loved beer, was told to pack his equipment in order to go home. Flanagan and his tank commander, the Scot Harry McDonald, stole two British Cromwell tanks and drove them to a Haganah military base. This was the beginning of the Israeli army armored corps. Flanagan stayed on in Israel and now his grandchildren produce Beer 48 in his honor. 

A picture of a tank is shown on the bottle with the slogan: Beer of the Brave.

The first Tel Aviv streets on
Achuzat Bayit beer labels:
Rothschild, Shenkin, Allenby, Bialik, Dizengoff. 
There is a series of beers about 
Tel Aviv from the defunct brewery Achuzat Bayit.  The labels show us pictures of Tel Aviv in its earliest days.  We can see the following Tel Aviv streets (left to right): Rothschild, Shenkin, Allenby, Bialik and Dizengoff.

Naming streets after the "founding fathers" is a common phenomenon in Israel.  But, how about naming a beer after one of the early settlers? Samuel's Highland beer is named after Samuel Pineles.  He was a Zionist activist and helped organize the immigration of Jews to the towns of Rosh Pina and Zichron Yaacov.  The city of Givat Shmuel in central Israel was named in his honor.

The Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer recreated the beer and the label of Max Brau Pilsner from the beer brewed by the Rosenberg Brothers in Akko in the year 1927.

Left: Samuel's Highland beer,
named after Zionist pioneer,
Samuel Pineles.
Right: A recreation of the
1927 Max Brau Pilsner
label and beer from
the Alexander Brewery. 
Football (soccer) and basketball are the favorite sports in Israel, so we expect this to be reflected in our beers. I found three beers that are directly tied to sports.

🔴 The Mosco Brewery on Moshav Zanoach came out with a beer called Gol.

🔴 Herzl Brewery in Jerusalem brought back the memory of the first and last time Israel was in the Mondial with a beer appropriately named Mexico 1970.

🔴 Jem's Brewery in Petach Tikva came out with a very limited edition of a beer called MTA in honor of the Macabbi Tel Aviv basketball team.

The Golan has been active in beer production. I have 22 beers from the Golan heights mainly from the Golan Brewery (Bazelet) in Katzrin, but there is also Fass Beer from Kibbutz Geshur.  Fass Beer changed their labels over time.  (This phenomenon is quite prevalent and can be confusing to labeorphilists.)  Other examples of breweries which have changed their labels are: Negev, Galil and the Lone Tree Brewery in Gush Etzion. . 
Beer labels honoring Israeli soccer (from left):
Gol Beer from Mosco, Mexico 70 from Herzl,
MTA from Jem's.

I also collect theme series bottles where the label is different 
but the beer content is the same.  For example:

Negev Brewery's series on Eurovision 2019. 

Herzl Brewery's Shenkar series where students of the Shenkar College of Design designed the labels on the bottles

Bazelet's dedication to Israel's 70th anniversary with beer bottles having the names Happiness, Friendship, Love, Luck, and Peace on them.

I wish all of you the above blessings for the New Year, and may we never have to face cenosillicaphobia -- the fear of an empty glass!

August 25, 2019

Meadan Brewing to continue without Bryan; production moves to Beer Bazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat

Bryan Meadan, the founder of a gluten-free and kosher-for-Passover brewery in Carmiel, has left the brewing industry.  Meadan beers will continue to be made at the Beer Bazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat, with Bryan maintaining some involvement.

Better days: Bryan Meadan in his gluten-free,
kosher-for-Passover brewery in Carmiel.

(Photo: Mike Horton) 
"It was strictly a business decision," Bryan told me.  "I started brewing gluten-free beers 11 years ago and was able to open up my own brewery in Carmiel five years ago.  We brewed beer using malted chickpeas (hummus) and buckwheat instead of wheat, barley and rye -- grains which contain gluten.  Our date beer was certified kosher-for-Passover in 2016.  We even exported it for the holiday to Jewish communities in the U.S.

"But in the end, we just could not keep it going economically."

Because the Beer Bazaar Brewery uses grains containing gluten for all of its other beers, the Meadan beers from there cannot legally be called "gluten-free," but, according to Bryan, it will be clear from the label that people who are gluten-intolerant and gluten-sensitive can drink the beer without ill effects.
Gluten-free and kosher-for-Passover
Date Ale from the Meadan Brewery.

"Concerning the kosher-for-Passover beer," Bryan explains, "it depends on whether the brewery wants to take the time and trouble to thoroughly clean out all of the grain from the equipment and from the premises before Passover.  That's an economic decision they'll have to make."

Bryan himself is now looking to become involved in a subject that he feels passionately about (after  beer, of course): the problem of climate change.

"I wasn't too successful in making money," he sighs, "so now I have decided to save the planet.  It should be much easier."

Read more about the Meadan Brewery and kosher-for-Passover beers here (2016), here (2016), here (2017) and here (2018)

August 23, 2019

The 15th Jerusalem Beer Festival -- August 28-29

This is meant for all of you who love beer festivals – AND for those who have never been to one.

Related image
If you live close enough to attend the Jerusalem Beer Festival ("Ir Habira") on August 28 or 29,  this is your golden opportunity to try something new.

You say you don't like beer?  That's no excuse.  Beer festivals are so much more than beer – at least this one is.  You get the music, the food, the ambiance of Independence Park, the beautiful people, the smiles of a summer night in Jerusalem.

And you get beer completely unlike the beer you don't like.  That is, craft beer, micro-brewed with quality ingredients and the personal touch that give it far more and far better taste than the lagers made by Israel's two industrial brewers. 

Among the 120 beers that you can taste at the festival, there will be bitter ones and sweet ones, dark and light, strong and mild, sour and fruity, citrusy, spicy, and some made with vanilla, chocolate, coffee, fruits and other natural ingredients.

For example, the Oak & Ash Brewery in Tel Aviv will be pouring their new Coco Porter, a strong, dark and roasty beer brewed with coconut.  Ifshi (Aramaic for "I can do it") is a new brewing venture by two young men from Kochav Hashachar.  They will be offering their Oatmeal Stout, made with tequila and honey.  Don't pass it up.

The Malka Brewery is also presenting a new beer: Smokin, a pale ale with a light smoky aroma and taste achieved by using smoked malt.  Lemongrass is the name of a new beer from the Negev Brewery which will be available at the festival.  It is Negev's Oasis beer infused with lemongrass to give it a lemony, spicy touch. 

The Emek Ha'ela Brewery from Srigim is bringing a keg of their excellent Belgian Tripel beer, racked up to 11% alcohol from its usual 9.2%.  Belgian tripels are strong beers, a bit sweet from the malt and low on hop bitterness. 

There will be other Israeli craft breweries at the festival as well.  Look for Shapiro, Ronen, Jem's, Six-Pack (Super Heroes), Isis (which took its name from the Egyptian goddess long before the Islamic State was on the scene), Barzel, HaDubim, Lela, HaGibur, and others.  The Beer Bazaar, a brewery and chain of six pubs, will be selling beers from its new Gypsy beer truck, a mobile pub.

Foreign beers will not be lacking at the festival, as the major importers will take the opportunity to introduce their beers to the Jerusalem public.  Dozens of foreign brands will be flowing, including of course beers from Germany, Belgium and Britain.  But there will also be Chang Beer from Thailand, Kirin from Japan, Cesu from Latvia, Blanc, a citrusy wheat beer from France, and the original Budweiser from the Czech Republic. 

By the way, Budweiser will be using a new tap system for the first time in Israel, the Antoine Speedtap from Belgium.  This amazing invention utilizes four spigots and can fill 48 glasses of beer a minute!  It's good to know it's around when the crowd begins to clamor for their beer.      
If you want to try something different with a flavor kick, look for beers brewed with fruit and fruit juices.  For example, the Stiegl Brewery from Austria will be serving its Stiegl Radler Grapefruit, low in alcohol but high in tangy fruit flavor.

From the Belgian De Brabandere Brewery comes Petrus Aged Red, a sweet and slightly tart beer made with ripe cherries.  Another cherry beer from Belgium is Barbe Ruby, made by the Verhaeghe Brewery.  This one has the tastes of almonds and light sour cherries.   
A beer festival also has to have food and music, and in Independence Park there will be food trucks and stands with meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes, including, I'm told, vegan hamburgers. 

Live bands will provide the music on both nights.  Wednesday will feature Liron Amram and the Panthers, Arutz Hakibud, and Tuna.  On Thursday, Tal Friedman and the Fat Cats, Adi Ulmanski, and Hatikva 6 will take the stage.  Music helps set the scene at any beer festival, but in my experience, once it starts (at around 9:00 p.m. or so), the volume makes polite conversation very difficult.

Eli Giladi of Giladi Productions, the organizers of the festival, said that this will be the 15th annual Jerusalem Beer Festival.  "Since 2004, more than a quarter of a million people have attended our festival.  Our unique mix of incredible beers, excellent live music, the special air of Jerusalem, and a great crowd of people you can't find anywhere else in Israel – have given us an international reputation."

In fact, recent online research of major beer festivals around the world revealed that the Jerusalem Beer Festival is in the top 20 in terms of attendance.
If you are attending the festival for the first time – or for the 15th time or any number in between – here are a few tips to make your experience even better.

● Get there and go home by public transportation or with a designated driver.  Even little tastes of beer can add up and leave you unfit to drive.

● Drink water and eat before and during the festival.  Food in your belly slows the absorption of alcohol and staying hydrated is very important while you're consuming alcohol.  It also helps your taste buds to have a sip of water between beers.

● Spend a few minutes reconnoitering before you start imbibing.  Walk around and see which beers and other products look interesting, and then start slow and stay slow.  Talk to the brewers or the servers about the beer you're having.  They kind of like that.  You're not here to guzzle down your beers, but to enjoy them.

● You don't have to drink everything you see – but this is a great opportunity to try styles you've never had before, not just the beers you know and like.

● And finally, if you are a newcomer testing the water, here are some tips to beers you might like, based on your own taste preferences:

          If you like strong, black coffee – try hoppy and bitter beers like India Pale Ale (IPA).

          If you go for roasted marshmallows – then dark and roasty beers like stouts, porters and brown ale may be just right for you.

          If you're a fan of butterscotch and sweet candies – you'll probably like malty and sweet beers like Belgian pale ales, dark lagers, Irish Red ale and Scottish ale.

          If you prefer any smoked food – you're a natural for smoky beers or Rauchbier, as they are known.

          Those of you who love desserts with fruit – should choose a beer in the fruity or spicy category, like Belgian blonde or dark ale, or a wheat beer (Hefeweizen, Dunkelweizen or Weizenbock).   

          If you're a wine lover – you'll probably prefer beers which are tart or sour, like a fruit lambic, Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red or Saison.

Enjoy the festival, drink responsibly and get home happy.

The Jerusalem Beer Festival (Ir Habira) will take place Wednesday and Thursday, August 28 and 29, at Independence Park, starting at 6:00 p.m. each night.  The entrance fee is NIS 70 if you buy your ticket at the gate, but you can buy it online for NIS 65 or NIS 55 (for soldiers, National Service, students or Yerushalmi card holders) at 

A version of this article is appearing today, Friday, August 23, in 
The Jerusalem Post local weekly, In Jerusalem.

August 12, 2019

August beer festivals

There are simply too many local beer festivals coming up this month for me to report on all of them individually, so with thanks to the Bira B'Yisrael Hebrew Facebook page (, I am giving below just the names and the dates of the upcoming festivals, and their Facebook pages where you should be able to get more information, most likely in Hebrew. 

This is a good thing, people.  We should be glad there are so many for us to choose from.     

Gomeh Intersection Israeli Beer Festival -- August 13-14:

Big Beer Festival, Beersheva -- August 14-15:
(No other information available.)

Ashkelon Beer Festival -- August 14-15:

Petach Tikva Beer Festival -- August 17:

Hadera Beer Festival -- August 21-22: 

Nahariya Beer Festival -- August 21-22:

Givat Shmuel Beer Festival -- August 22

Jerusalem Beer Festival ("Ir HaBira") -- August 28-29

Givatayim Beer Festival -- August 28-29