January 19, 2021

Three more from BeerBazaar: Haganan ● Calamansi ● Kafir Lime

It's tough to keep up with new beers from the BeerBazaar Brewery (in Kiryat Gat).  They come out every two weeks or so and, although they don't last very long in the online store, several have been re-brewed and made a come-back.  You can never know when this will happen, or even if it will happen.  So I'm just going with the flow.  Those that I get a hold of, I will write about.    

HaGanan Rye IPA from the
BeerBazaar Brewery.

One of the latest is HaGanan ("The Gardener"), a rye IPA, at 6% alcohol.  Rye doesn't so much add flavor to beer as add something else.  Some say it's a "richness" or a "crispness" or a "spiciness" or even a "creamy smoothness."  When I poured a HaGanan, this is what happened:

The beer is semi-hazy, a nice golden honey color, topped by a thin white head.  There are good fruity IPA aromas: red grapefruit and mango, and also some spice.  The taste had the same rich fruit, a malt background, and is not very bitter.  Where is the rye?  Perhaps someone on a higher pay scale than I will be able to find it.  Nevertheless, HaGanan is an enjoyable IPA: aromatic and fruity and moderately bitter.

The other two recent beers from BeerBazaar complete the "rare lemon" series which were brewed in cooperation with the Klotsman Orchards near Kibbutz Ein HaHoresh in Emek Hefer.  

Calamansi and Kafir Lime:
Two more "rare lemon" beers
brewed by the BeerBazaar Brewery
in collaboration with 
Klotsman Orchards. 
The first two beers in this series were Interdonato and Bergamot, and you can refresh your memory about them here

Introduced more recently was Calamansi beer.  This is a pale ale, 4.5% alcohol, brewed with the skin and pulp of the Calamansi lime, claimed as native by both Malaysia and the Philippines.  "This is a small fruit in the kumquat family," says Ben Alon, one of the owners of the Klotsman Orchards.  "We use both the pulp, which is very bitter, and the skin, which is sweeter.  This gives the beer a good balance, and delivers a taste which is fresh with the sun and the blossoms, like you are swimming in the orchard."      

The Calamansi lime: A little powerhouse
of bitter and sweet flavors.

As much as I appreciate Ben's poetry, I had to taste the beer for myself.  It pours out a lightly cloudy amber with noticeable carbonation.  The aroma brings together a harsh lemon, a bitter orange peel, and fresh-cut grass.  So, yes, you can say that you get the smell of the orchard.  When it first hits your tongue, there's the citrus bitterness, but right after you taste the lemon zest.  There's no mistaking that this beer, like the others, is lemon-centered.

If most beers aim for some kind of a balance between the bitter hops and the sweeter malt, Calamansi strikes a balance between the bitter and the sour – within the same fruit. I believe it goes well with much of our Israeli cuisine – and suitable more for our Israeli summer. 

Fruit and leaves of the Kafir Lime:
The aroma and flavor of Thailand.

The latest beer in the series is Kafir Lime, which is made with the leaves of the tree rather than the fruit itself. Ben Alon revealed a surprising fact: "The Ministry of Agriculture does not allow any kafir lime trees to be grown in Israel. Apparently, the trees tend to carry a plant disease called 'greening,' which destroys other citrus trees. To brew the beer, we imported leaves from Thailand, where kafir limes are an important part of the local cuisine."

The base of this beer is an English Bitter, and the alcohol is a moderate 5.2%.

Getting poetic again, Ben likened the flavor of the beer to, "swimming in a cold Thai soup."

Well, I've never done that, but I can say that the Kafir Lime beer is as lemony as the other three, but also more mellow. It's bitter rather than sour, with aromas of lemon drops and malt, and tastes of lemon and vegetal. You even get the sweetness of the lemon as the beer warms up a bit. The body is thin with active carbonation, and the finish is short and bitter.

Producing these four rare lemon beers was a brave step by the BeerBazaar and the Klotsman Orchards. While tasty, they are clearly outside of the comfort zone of most beer drinkers.

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