September 23, 2020

Interdonato & Bergamot: Two rare lemons used in BeerBazaar beers

There have been a slew of new beers recently from the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat.  The supply has been rather sketchy since they are brewed in limited quantities and sell out quickly in stores, including BeerBazaar's own chain of pubs, and in the online store ( But most of them will be making comebacks so you should keep looking for them.

Two of the most unusual were brewed in collaboration with the Klotzman Orchards near Kibbutz Ein HaHoresh in Emek Hefer.  They grow some rare fruits there, including 10-12 varieties of lemons.  These varieties are only grown in a few countries outside of Italy and France.  

Bergamot lemons in the 
Klotzman Orchards.

The orchards were founded in 1906 by the great-grandfather of the two current owners, brothers Ben and Gal Alon.  (Klotzman, which means "woodsman" or "woodworker" in German, was Hebraized to Alon, which mean "oak tree," a generation ago.)  

"We sell our lemons to individuals, mostly food enthusiasts, and gourmet restaurants," says Ben Alon.  "Lior Weiss, the Brewmaster at the BeerBazaar Brewery, and I thought of the idea of making beer with two varieties of these lemons: the Interdonato and the Bergamot.  Both of these are grown mainly for the zest from their outer rind.  The inner rind and pulp are too bitter for use."

Ben Alon of the Klotzman Orchards
carefully removed all of the green rind
from these Interdonato lemons.

The two most well-known products for these lemons are 
Lemoncello, a popular Italian aperitif, which incorporates the rind of the Interdonato, and Earl Grey tea, which is flavored with oil from the skin of the Bergamot. 

"For the beers," explains Ben, "I grated all of the lemons by myself.  I hope that these beers will give people a taste of the terroir of our orchard: the water, the earth, the sunshine."   

Ben Alon (left) of the Klotzman Orchards
shows viewers an Interdonato lemon.
With him is Lior Weiss, Brewmaster of the
BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat.

Both of the beers are named after the lemons.  Interdonato beer, according to Lior Weiss, "is based on American pale ale, and we dry-hop it with Citra hops and lemon zest." 

So what does this bring us?

Interdonato beer is a clear, light orange color with a big foamy head.  The aroma is rather grassy, but you also get the smell of lemon tea.  Perhaps with lemons, you would expect a sour taste, but there isn't much of that.  What there is is a full bitterness, perked up with lemon tea and lemon popsicle.  It's a taste that makes you thirsty, which is not bad in a beer since you want to keep drinking.  ABV is 5.2%.

Bottles of Interdonato and
Bergamot beer from the 
BeerBazaar Brewery,
made in collaboration with
the Klotzman Orchards.
The base for the Bergamot beer is the Saison style.  It's a darker color than Interdonato and a little stronger (6.2% ABV).  It doesn't have the lemon tea taste, but more like lemon and honey, or "lemon in gravy," as my drinking partner Moshe said.  You also can't mistake the very distinctive taste of Saison yeast.  The finish is long and bitter.    

The Bergamot, we agreed, is the more complex and sophisticated of the two, but the Interdonato was more interesting and, in the end, more enjoyable.

Kudos to the BeerBazaar Brewery for taking this brave step and introducing two innovative beers which, while tasty, are outside of the comfort zone of most beer drinkers.  

September 14, 2020

Shapiro Saison du Melon: It's in the hops

(Photo: Udi Katzman)
There is no melon in the Saison du Melon beer from the Shapiro Brewery in Beit Shemesh.  But there is an interesting hop variety from Germany known as Hüll Melon, which is known to impart aromas and flavors of honeydew melon.  

The name of the beer also gives a tip-of-the-hat to Saison Dupont from the Brasserie Dupont brewery in Belgium, considered by many to be the best saison beer in the world. 

The saison style of ale originated in southern Belgium.  The word means "season" in French, indicating it was brewed in the winter for drinking in the spring and summer.  So it's generally dry, light and refreshing.  The style is mostly defined by the special yeast which is used.    

Hüll Melon hops.
Saison du Melon is a semi-hazy, golden yellow color and with active carbonation.  We actually got some sour honeydew melon in the aroma, along with lemon, pepper, bread, and white grapes!  The taste is mildly bitter and sour; notes of spice and lemongrass complete the profile. 

The finish is interesting: Dry and thirst-quenching as it should be, but you also get the saison yeast and the honeydew making a quiet comeback.

Saison du Melon is an excellent beer for our Israeli summer, and at 4.4% alcohol, you can enjoy more than one.  For Shapiro and its brewing team, this is a fine achievement.        

September 12, 2020

HaDubim promotes demo-cra-cy

Israelis are talking a lot about democracy these days.  Is it under attack?  Is it being whittled away?  Is it as strong as ever?

Rotem and Dagan Bar-Ilan, the brother-brewers of HaDubim ("The Bears") Beer, have made a personal statement by printing three new labels for their beer which, when placed side-by-side, spell out Demo-cra-cy in Hebrew.

"Some people might object to us mixing beer and politics," says Dagan, "but for us beer is more than just a product we make.  It comes from the heart and expresses our ideals and values.

"We felt that we needed to say that democracy is one of the most important things we have, and we believe that we are starting to lose it."

HaDubim beers are contract brewed at the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat.  The beer in the Demo-cra-cy bottles is Typhoon, HaDubim's very popular American Pale Ale. 

Remembering democracy and love:
HaDubim brewer/brothers
Rotem and Dagan Bar-Ilan.
Most of the reactions to the Demo-cra-cy labels were positive, although there were some people who didn't like the idea of mixing beer with political statements.

"We don't see any problem with this," concludes Dagan.  "Rotem and I are not just people who make beer.  The beer we brew is a reflection of who we are – as it should be for all brewers.  In fact, if a brewer from the other side of the political map would make a beer reflecting his values, I would appreciate it very much."