Two stout beers have come to market recently. They are both limited editions, but even if they are gone by the start of spring, we'll have time to enjoy their winter warming qualities.
|Small Batch Imperial Stout|
from the Shevet Brewstillery
in Pardes Hanna.
Imperial stouts share many of the characteristics of regular stouts, but they should be more, well, "imperialized." More alcoholic, darker (even black), robust and rich in roasty malt flavors and aromas, fruity and bittersweet, and full-bodied ("chewy"). Imperial stout is the classic beer for cold weather drinking. It's no wonder that its origins are linked to the Russian nobility, who demanded and encouraged the brewing of this style.
So, here we have Shevet Imperial Stout. The informative label tells us that the alcoholic volume is a strong 8.5% and the IBUs (International Bitterness Units) a hefty 75, which are kind of mid-range for an imperial stout. Some 4,000 bottles were produced.
It pours close to black, with some reddish highlights when you hold it up to the light. The head is tan, thick and fizzy and very long-lasting. The aromas get the palate ready for what's to come: Roasty malt and yeast, dark chocolate, and whiffs of alcohol. The flavors are powerful with dark chocolate, bitter Turkish coffee, alcohol, bitter hops, roasted, yeast and dark fruits.
|Felix Magdziarz from Germany|
takes the helm as brewmaster
at the Shevet Brewstillery.
I tracked down Brewmaster Felix to get a little background information on himself and on his first Shevet beer. A young man of 35, Felix already has 16 years' experience as a professional brewer, having worked in Germany, Scotland, South Africa, India and Guinea-Bissau.
He chose the imperial stout because he wanted a dark beer for the winter (of course), working with the malts already stored at the Shevet Brewstillery, Scottish Ale yeast, and Magnum, Cascade and Centennial hops.
"I was aiming for a beer that was dry and drinkable, even though strong," he noted. "You get a bit of lemon from the Centennial hops, which I thought would go well with the traditional aromas and tastes of coffee and dark chocolate."
For the coming months, Felix is planning to beef up Shevet's flagship line of beers by adding an Irish Red, IPA, American Pale Ale, and Belgian Wit. In addition, there will be limited editions of barrel-aged beers, which is something we don't want to miss.
What can we expect from
Shevet's limited edition
Felix arrived in Israel and started work during our pandemic lock down, so he misses getting out and taking part in the Israeli craft beer scene. "I want to visit the Israeli beer bars, breweries and festivals," he laments. "The appeal of craft beer is that it's more personal, and I need to interact with other brewers, to discuss collaboration beers, and to get feedback from our customers, whom we call 'members of the tribe [shevet].' This is what I look forward to."
|Idealim Hot Chili Stout from the|
Shapiro Brewery in Beit Shemesh.
(Photo: Udi Katzman)
But the back story doesn't begin there. Sha'anan Streett, lead singer in the hip-hop/funk group Hadag Nahash, was putting out a solo album called Idealim, when he made a suggestion to his friend Itzik Shapiro, a partner/brother of the Shapiro Brewery. "We've been thinking about doing something together for a while," Sha'anan told me, "and when I knew I was releasing the album I contacted Itzik with the idea to brew a beer based on my album."
|Sha'anan Streett (left) of Hadag Nahash|
and Shapiro Chief Brewer Ory Sofer
pick the peppers for
Shapiro's Idealim Hot Chili Stout.
Although most of the chili beers brewed in the past have been light-colored, Ory thought a dark stout, with its roasty, coffee and chocolaty character, would provide a perfect stage for the chili pepper -- without allowing the pepper to completely dominate the beer.
|Sha'anan Streett's new solo album, Idealim: |
Ideals that inject an 'edge' into our lives.
In search of the perfect pepper for their beer, Sha'anan, Ory and Brewmaster Yochai Kodler traveled to Moshav Faran in the Arava, to the farm of Guy Ilan.
"We burned out tongues tasting a few varieties," Yochai relates, "but we decided on Madame Jeanette -- a newcomer to the farm -- because it was very hot with a lemony taste; refreshing like lemon zest. We thought that would go best with the flavors of the stout."
[Remember that Shevet Brewmaster Felix also wanted to insert a bit of lemon taste into his imperial stout. See above.]
|What President Truman really said:|
Like a beard on someone's face, once you concentrate on the chili peppers, it's hard to notice anything else: The coffee and chocolate, even the balanced bitterness, have to fight to stay relevant in all that heat.
To paraphrase President Harry Truman: "If you can't stand the heat, don't drink the beer!" But if you can, and if you'd like to try something out of the ordinary, pick up a bottle or two of Idealim. Only one batch of 1,000 liters was brewed, so don't put it off.
And if you're into the hip-hop/funk scene, get the album with the same name -- and feel the burn.