August 23, 2020

Beertzinut ► 3 core beers win in Europe; 3 additional beers on the market

The united colors of Beertzinut beers. 
Three core beers from the Beertzinut Brewery ("Serious Brewing") on Kibbutz Ketura in the Negev Desert have won medals in the European Beer Challenge.  The judging took place in London last year, involving hundreds of beers from mostly European breweries. 

At the same time, Beertzinut has released three beers representing styles not usual for Israeli brewers: One is a Kölsch style of beer (originating from Cologne, Germany) and two Berliner Weiss fruited sour beers.

Neil Churgin, owner and brewer of
Beertzinut, at last year's
Craft Brewers Conference in
Denver, Colorado. 
Beertzinut owner and brewer Neil Churgin deserves kudos (and perhaps a medal for bravery) for adding these two uncommon beer styles to the Israeli craft beer repertoire.

The Berliner Weiss style is a wheat beer which is "inoculated" with lactic acid bacteria while still in the brew kettle.  The bacteria are then killed by boiling before regular fermentation takes place.  The result should be a light, dry and refreshing beer, with a yogurt tang to it.

The Berliner Weisses from Beertzinut are the same basic beers (3.4% ABV), but each brewed with a different fruit.

The first is called Apricot Fields.

Beertzinut FINAV:
Pineapple Berliner Weiss.

Apricot Fields is a sour beer, but not so much that it will pucker your mouth -- and it will certainly quench your thirst on a hot day.

Even more enjoyable (to me) was the second Berliner Weiss, brewed with pineapple.  It's named FINAV, which Neil says means, "F___, I Need A Vacation."

Moving on, this beer is lighter than Apricot Fields, but just as cloudy and low carbonated.  Here you do get nice, ripe pineapple in the aroma.  The taste is just as sour, but with noticeable pineapple concentrate in the fore.  First you taste the sweetness of the fruit, and then the sourness gives you a slap.  "A slap that feels like a kiss," to paraphrase Louise Bigelow in Carousel.

Beertzinut Shluk beer:
Kölsch spelled backwards.
The third beer is a Kölsch, a German beer fermented at ale temperatures (about 20˚22˚C), but then lagered at a cold temperature.  These are light and crisp beers, well-balanced between the bready malt and the noble hops.

This beer's name is Shluk, which means a "swig" in Hebrew.  Coincidentally, it's also Kölsch spelled backwards, which Neil says happened when an ornery word processing program reversed the letters without being asked.

Moving on, Shluk is clear as Kölsch should be, the color of ginger ale, with a light carbonation.  There's some malt in the aroma, but mostly wet hay and new-mown grass.  The taste is mildly bitter, with flavors of malt and lemon popsicle.  The swallow brings smooth malt and perhaps a melon aftertaste, finishing very dry.   The body is very light.  ABV is 4.2%.  My drinking partner Moshe said he could have "seven of these in a row." 

Beertzinut's core beers take three medals in the
European Beer Challenge

Competing against hundreds of other beers, mostly from European brewers, Beertzinut beers won three medals in last year's European Beer Challenge competition.  The judges are Europe's leading beer buyers, including importers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and restaurant and bar groups.

Cool Medjool won a gold medal in the Fruit, Smoked Beer category.

Shlishiya ("3-Way") also took first place in the American IPA, Session IPA category.

Layla (Night) won a silver medal in the Belgian Style IPA, Black IPA category.

Belated Congratulations to Beertzinut and Neil Churgin.  If I've said it once, I've said it two or three times: Israeli beers should be entered in more international competitions.  Our chances are improving.  Some veteran beers will do well; some new beers will do even better.                             

August 6, 2020

Good Stuff Brewing debuts with four beers; opens Jerusalem publet

The new owners of the Buster's Brewery in Beit Shemesh (Noham Industrial Area) have added a new brand to their line of beverages: Good Stuff Brewing.  This is in addition to the Buster's brand of hard ciders and lemonades, Oak & Ash barrel-aged beers, and Free Spirits strong alcoholic drinks.

"Our four new beers are not only 'good stuff ' to drink," says partner and brewer Asher Zimble, "but we also do 'good stuff ' with a portion of all the sales.  We contribute to causes which are active in the fields of health, education, clean beaches, and social needs."

More about this later.

The Good Stuff Pub & People in
Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda market.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
At the same time, Asher and his partner Leiby Chapler have opened a mini-pub in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda market, called Good Stuff Pub & People (3 HeCharuv Street).  "We have a taproom at the Buster's Brewery," continues Asher, "but we wanted a place which was centrally located where more people can experience our products.  We negotiated with the owners of the Beer Market, which was at this location.  In the end, we reached a collaboration agreement, with one of the partners of the Beer Market, Alex Lobanov, joining us.  He agreed that we could change the name to Good Stuff Pub & People."
Good Stuff Brewing partner Asher Zimble
with bottles of Free Spirits liquor.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

On tap at the pub are the Good Stuff beers as well as Buster's ciders and/or lemonades.  There is also a rotating tap that will have occasional beers from other breweries.  You can drink the beers at the bar or take them home in sealed liter bottles (49 shekels).  There are also kegged cocktails on tap, including lemon arak, pink lemonade and gin, and chili lime and vodka.  Take-home liters of these cost 95 shekels.  There are also at least 10 different bottles of spirits on sale.

Getting back to giving back, Asher explains that each of the first four beers is linked to a different good cause.  

Let's begin with the pale and move into the dark:

Education is a clear, pale liquid with a foamy white head.  I'm a sucker for aromatic hops, and when you combine this with real fruit, my knees buckle.  A nice mango smell, sweet tropical fruits, with plenty of citrus.  The pineapple is revealed in the taste, along with the strong bitterness, sourdough bread and pine resin.  The active carbonation dominates the mouthfeel.  A good summer beer; not to be chugged down but to be enjoyed.       

Clean Beach Blonde, as the name implies, encourages the cleaning up of Israeli beaches.  For the first project, Good Stuff ran a Facebook campaign asking readers to grab a garbage bag, go and collect trash on the beach, and send in a photo.  One of these was picked to win a case of Clean Beach Blonde.  You can keep up with new projects by following the Facebook page:

The winning team of
beach cleaners:
The prize was a carton of
Clean Beach Blonde.
Clean Beach Blonde pours out a very hazy yellow color (I'd even call it "dirty blonde") with a compact white head.  The aroma has sour notes, but more dominant are yeast, grass, and cereal grains.  Really not much from the hops.  The taste envelope is mildly bitter, holding flavors of citrus fruit, green apples, dried apricot and yeast.  The body is light, easy drinking at 5% alcohol.  A good beer to take to the beach -- but be sure to bring back the empty bottles.

A portion of the profits from the sale of First Aid Amber Ale will go to medical first reponders.  In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, they play an even more crucial role, putting themselves in danger on a daily basis.  The first project sponsored by the beer was the distribution of 500 masks to hospitals.

A delivery of face masks,
purchased from the sales of
First Aid Amber,
arrives at an Israeli hospital. 
First Aid Amber is a hazy mid-brown color with an off-white head.  It's on the more balanced side of the amber ale range, with aromas of both malt and hops, bread, yeast and some floral.  The taste brings more malt and grain, and light citrus.  This may not sound very exciting, but it's fine for a tasty amber ale.  The body is mid-full and smooth.  Alcohol by volume: 5%.     

Warmth is a hefty Imperial Stout, 9.2% alcohol, brewed with additions of oats and brown sugar.  The warmth it refers to is not global warming, as I first thought, but providing people with emotional warmth, as Asher says, "giving people what they lack."  The first project was in support of Leket, an organization which fights food insecurity by "rescuing" surplus food from fields and restaurants, and distributing it to those in need.

As you would expect, Warmth is very dark brown, topped with a bubbly beige head that holds for few minutes.  Aromas assaulted my nose fast and furious: Roasted malt, coffee and chocolate, molasses, licorice, dark fruits and whiffs of alcohol.  Same thing with the tastes -- not easy to keep track: Chocolate liqueur, caramel, coffee and raisins.  This imperial stout was not very bitter, indicating a nice balance between the hops and malt.  As to mouthfeel, there was a pleasant alcoholic warmth, but the body was thin for this style of beer.

In general, I was impressed with the first four Good Stuff beers.  This is not the first time Israeli craft brewers have designated a portion of their sales for a good cause.  (Off hand, I can think of the Shapiro Brewery, next door neighbors to Good Stuff, which has an excellent record of helping different charities.)  But it's the first time that an entire brand has been built on this concept.

How nice to be able to put good beer in your belly while giving your conscience some nutrition as well.  It doesn't happen very often.

[The Good Stuff website is at: ]