Oak & Hazelnut Porter
from Eli Ale.
(Photo: Mike Horton)
It was especially appropriate that Louis presented me with his Winter Forest Oak & Hazelnut Porter on the last wintry day in Jerusalem. After we sought shelter, he outlined his plans for Eli Ale.
"I want to introduce a new beer for every season," he explained. "This summer, for example, we're bringing back our Summer Breeze, a light Belgian Witbier, 4% alcohol, made with orange peel and coriander seeds. For the fall, we'd like to have an Irish Red, and then a Maibock for the spring."
Louis, who began as a home-brewer in 2012, keeps his equipment at the Oak & Ash Brewery, but insists on doing his own brewing. "I need to be on top of all the stages: the mashing, the boiling, adding the ingredients, etc. It's a very delicate dance that I don't want others to do for me."
|Louis (Eli) Jay (left), owner of Eli Ale,|
presents bottles of Winter Forest
to the old blogger on winter's last day.
(Photo: Mike Horton)
Of special importance to him is achieving consistency with every batch. "Before I started brewing commercially," he added, "the biggest obstacle was consistency. I aimed at getting ten consistent batches before I took a beer to the commercial level."
Winter Forest is based on a recipe from Louis' home-brew days. "We were brewing the porter at 6% ABV, but one day by mistake hit 8%. It was so good we decided to keep it."
Winter forest is brewed with hazelnuts and aged with oak chips. It pours out a dark opaque brown with lacy tan foam. There's no missing the tantalizing aromas: roasted malt, dark chocolate, yeast and a little coffee. With the taste, you get oak, nuts and chocolate in a sweet and dry package.
The mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy, light alcohol warmth, and a little tingly from the carbonation. Moshe, my tasting partner (we were sharing the beer via Zoom) found an "oatmeal" quality to the mouthfeel.
Winter Forest is on sale in various beer stores in Israel, and final details are being worked out for exporting several cases to the state of Maryland.
I missed Eli Ale's Summer Breeze last year, but based on the Winter Forest, I'm looking forward to trying it as soon as it appears later this year.