July 25, 2021

Six more beer festivals heard from: Sderot ● Hod Hasharon ● Orr Yehuda ● Be'er Yakov ● Herliya Park ● Givat Shmuel

Six more local beer festivals over the coming weeks have come to my attention.  If I understand it right, Herzliya is getting a second.  The first one was in the Marina last week, and the second, August 11-12, is in Herzliya Park.  Who said life was fair?  Anyway, see if one of these is close to you and go have a good time.

The First Sderot Beer Festival

Tuesday, July 27, and Wednesday, July 28 (opening at 6:00 p.m.) 

Azrieli Park

Entrance fee: 50 shekels for one day; 75 shekels for both.

Hod Hasharon Beer Festival

Wednesday, August 4, and Thursday, August 5 (opening at 5:00 p.m.) 

Four Seasons Park

Free admission

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/138935201685798/?active_tab=about

Orr Yehuda Beer Festival

Thursday, August 5 (6:00 - 11:00 p.m.) 

Avi and Aviv Street

Free admission

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/335844438168222/?active_tab=about

Be'er Yakov Beer Festival

Thursday, August 12 (6:00 - 11:00 p.m.) 

Lichtenstein Park

Free admission

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/889072581692585/?active_tab=about

Herzliya Park Beer Festival

Wednesday, August 11, and Thursday, August 12 (6:00 - 11:00 p.m.) 

Herzliya Park

Free admission

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/188476829784964/?active_tab=about

Givat Shmuel Beer Festival

Thursday, August 19 (7:00 - 11:00 p.m.) 

Events Park  (פארק האירועים)

Free admission

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/510853360023824/?active_tab=about

July 24, 2021

Kedem: New beers from 'days of old'

We tasted three Kedem beers:
IPA, Strong Wheat and Stout.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

I just found out about a beer label that has been around for a while: Kedem.  The word means something like "yore" or "days of old," which is a nice name for a pretty new beer.  The brewers are now trying to bring the beer to the wider public by using social media.  You won't find it on the shelves yet.  You have to order it directly from the brewers.

Still, a "new" beer brand is what gets the old blogger's juices flowing, so off I went to find out what this was all about.  Accompanying me was IBAV photographer extraordinaire Mike Horton.   

"The both us of live in Nokdim, a community south of Bethlehem, and the both of us love beer and love to cook.  So a few years ago we began to brew beer at home."  

The owners and brewers of Kedem Beer:
Eitan Mann (left) and Elroi Kapach.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

The speaker is Eitan Mann, 39, who works in Israel's hi-tech sector.  The other one he was talking about is Elroi Kapach, 35, a construction manager.  The two neighbors perfected their brewing skills under the guidance of Shmuel ("Shmulz") Naky, one of the owners of Birateinu, the Jerusalem Beer Center, who brews some of the most unusual beers in the country.  [Read about some of them here and here.]  

Eitan and Elroi live near Tekoa, a community which hosts a famous home-brew festival every summer.  A few years back, they decided to exhibit their beers at the festival.

"The reactions of the visitors were amazing," Elroi continues.  "We made and sold more beer every year at the festival, but it remained a hobby until recently, when we made it a business.

"It's still a sideline, though.  We're keeping our day jobs!"

Kedem beers are now contract brewed at the Hatch Brewery in Jerusalem.  [Read about that place here.]  

The Hebrew word kedem appears
in this Jewish prayer:
"Renew our days as of old."

We tried three Kedem beers.

The India Pale Ale (5.1% alcohol) has citrus aromas and flavors, though not very distinct fruits.  It is mildly bitter with a medium body.  Israelis have been weaned to appreciate American-style IPAs with more extreme flavors and bitterness, but this one is less so.

The Strong Wheat (5.7%) is in the style of a Belgian witbier, brewed with orange peel.  When I asked Eitan why this was not listed in the ingredients, he said that it doesn't have to be.  Very curious.  It's a very pale color, with fruity aromas and orange taste in the background.  Very much in the ballpark for this style. 

The Stout (4.8%) was Mike's and my favorite.  Dark brown, bordering on black, with a creamy tan head, the dominant aroma and flavor is roasted coffee.  This is not surprising, since it is brewed with coffee essence, though this too is not listed on the label.  The mouthfeel is quite creamy with a medium body.  I am not a stout fan, but I found this to be a very enjoyable beer.  

Eitan and Elroi told us that they also brew a Porter but there was none available at the time for us to taste.  It is a lighter color and less roasty than the Stout.

Kedem beers are currently available only by ordering from the brewers.  Call Eitan at 052-644-4331, or Elroi at 054-741-1490.

July 18, 2021

Head-to-head with Jerusalem: Herzliya Beer Festival joins Yavne and Kfar Saba with July 21-22 dates

The Herzliya Beer Festival (Lager & Ale) has become the fourth Israeli beer festival to be held this Wednesday and Thursday, July 21-22.  The big one is in Jerusalem (read about it  here), but there are also local festivals going on in Yavne (here) and Kfar Saba (here).  If you don't want to make the trip to Jerusalem, choose a closer festival and welcome the summer season.        

Herzliya Beer Festival

Wednesday, July 21 and Thursday, July 22 (6:00 - 11:00 p.m.)

Herzliya Marina

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/4261521247201661?active_tab=about

BeerBazaar Mutatzia + Purpilicious (Casis) + Grapefruit Punch + Vienna Sunset

It's time I caught up on some of the new beers from the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat.  No matter how fast I run (and I admit I'm slowing down), I just can't keep up with the succession of new beers from BeerBazaar.  The good thing is that even if the supply of certain beers may run out, there's a good chance that Brewmaster Lior Weiss will bring them back sometime soon.

BeerBazaar Hamutatzia APA:
A tweak away from the Bhindi IPA. 

The first beer I want to discuss is Mutatzia, an American Pale Ale at 5.5% alcohol.  The name means "mutation" in Hebrew, and we certainly have been trying to cope with all the Covid mutations which have been arriving from overseas.  But the name also alludes to the fact that this beer is merely a tweak (a mutation, if you will) of BeerBazaar's popular Bhindi IPA.  A change in the malt, a variation in the hops, and the IPA becomes an APA.

To my aging olfactory and glossopharyngeal nerves, the line between APA and IPA is already very blurry.  These two styles share a lot of the same characteristics and the parameters overlap in almost every category: Appearance, aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel.  Personally, I appreciate and enjoy these beer styles very much.  What do we have with Mutatzia?            

It's 5.5% alcohol, a clear golden color with a thin foamy head.  The hops aromas are decidedly citrus (grapefruit and lemon), some yeast, but balanced by a malt sweetness.  In the taste, there was some citrus fruit and pineapple, but not very distinct.  It's bitter and rather bland, with my drinking partner Daniël Boerstra picking up some "dried orange peels."  (He's much younger than I am.)  We felt that Mutatzia was leaning more towards a Blonde Ale than an APA.  Nitpicking perhaps, but we were a little disappointed.

BeerBazaar Purpilicious Sour Wheat:
Berry aroma and taste from the black currants.
Moving on to Purpilicious, a sour wheat beer made with black currants, also known as cassis.  Before we even start, that earns an "A" for effort.  Black currants are very healthy, but they are not a very well known fruit.  I read that they taste tart like passion fruit with a dark berry flavor.  Their growth is banned in New York state and some western counties because they carry a fungus which can destroy pine trees.  You probably didn't know that.  

Purpilicious is indeed a dark shade of purple, topped by a pale purple and long-lasting head.  The aromas bring hay, grass and faint berries.  My drinking partner (in this instance Moshe) smelled some yogurt in there as well.  The taste is sour, as specified, but it's mild enough to be enjoyed even by a drinker who is not a fan of sour beers.  The fruity tastes are stronger than the sourness, accompanied by a mouthfeel that is fresh and creamy.  

Purpilicious is not everybody's glass of beer, but it's drinkable (even sessionable at 4.4% ABV), refreshing for a summer day, and would probably be super teamed up with a sweet fruity dessert.

BeerBazaar Grapefruit Punch NEIPA:
Fruity, juicy and smoothy.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

Coming up very strong for me is Grapefruit Punch, a 5.3% New England IPA brewed with grapefruit juice.  This beer does a wonderful job in approaching the overall impression of the NEIPA style: Intense fruit aromas and flavors, "juicy" and smooth mouthfeel, lower bitterness than other IPAs.  

Ah, but some would say, it achieves this with a cheat.  Instead of relying on the hops alone for the fruity qualities, the brewers added grapefruit juice.  To which I respond: So?  They may not be displaying the same brewing mastery which produces an NEIPA without additives, but the final beer produces the same impression and enjoyment, does it not?  

At any rate, Grapefruit Punch pours out a cloudy orange color.  The aroma of grapefruit jumps out at you, but there is also citrus scents from the hops.  The flavor is also full of grapefruit with some orange, mildly sweet and sour, with a smooth and bitter finish that make you want to drink more.  Moshe called Grapefruit Punch, "the official refresher of the summer" -- and I completely agree.  

IBAV photographer Mike Horton said that his first impression was, "grapefruit juice and tonic.  Then after a short while, the taste of pale ale started to filter through. . . A welcome summer's drink, and maybe even has a bit of vitamin C in it." 

BeerBazaar Vienna Sunset:
A Vienna Lager as it should be.
We'll close with Vienna Sunset, probably Israel's only commercial version of a Vienna Lager, ever.  This style is solidly in the family of pale lagers, Pilsners and Marzens which originated in Central Europe.  In Vienna Lagers, says the good book, hop bitterness should be balanced by the malt sweetness, with a smooth, dry finish -- but it says the same thing about a lot of styles.

Vienna Sunset is golden red amber color, darker than most lagers as it should be, that really reminds me of a red sky at sunset.  You get caramel and bready hops in the aroma, with flavors of caramel, malt and some delicate fruit.  In fact, everything about this beer is delicate: Mid-sweetness, medium bodied, 5% ABV, and a finish that is dry and bitter-ish.  All the boxes seem to be checked off.  

I don't have much experience with Vienna Lagers, but I enjoyed this beer as I do all well-made lagers.  It's a welcome addition to the BeerBazaar repertoire and I hope it stays around.                        

July 14, 2021

Jerusalem Beer Festival 🍻 July 21-22

Israel suffered through 2020 without beer festivals – or much of any other public entertainment for that matter. 

Despite the corona variant raising up its spiked head again, this summer will be very different.  Beer festivals are planned for several Israeli cities and towns, the champion among them being the Jerusalem Beer Festival, also known by its Hebrew homophone, Ir Habira.  It can mean either "Capital City" or "City of Beer."

Festival impresario Eli Giladi met the
old blogger at an earlier festival.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

Eli Giladi, the festival impresario from Giladi Productions, reminded me that this will be the 16th Jerusalem Beer Festival, although I guess you can't say "annual" because of the 2020 hiatus.  It will take place in the centrally located Independence Park (Gan Atzmaut). 

"There will be 150 different beers to choose from," he said.  "As always, we have beers from the finest Israeli craft breweries as well as international brands from Belgium, France, Japan and Thailand."

(Photo: Netanel Tobias)

Two new Israeli craft breweries will be represented at the Festival for the first time:

Shikma is a new brewery in Ashkelon, built and owned by Israel Beer Breweries Ltd., makers of the popular Tuborg and Carlsberg brands.  Shikma will be pouring its three new beers – an Amber Ale, an IPA (India Pale Ale), and a Märzen Lager.

Reisel Beer, a new brewery in the Galilee will be introducing its Belgian Ale to the Jerusalem crowd.

Jeremy Welfeld, CEO of Jem's Beer Factory,
will be conducting beer tasting sessions
on both nights of the festival.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

The other Israeli craft beers at the Festival include: Alexander, BeerBazaar, Emek Ha'ela, HaGibor, Hatch, Herzl, Jem's, Malka, Negev, Ronen, Shapiro, and Six-Pack (Super Heroes).

In a Jerusalem Beer Festival first, Jeremy Welfeld, the CEO of Jem's Beer Factory, will be conducting beer tasting sessions on both nights.  Jeremy will have a special table where he will be sharing his beers and his knowledge about beer styles and brewing.  But you have to get there early, since these sessions are planned for the opening of the Festival at 6:00 p.m.

Also new at the Festival is the Mashukar line of alcoholic ciders from Hamatsesa, a company which salvages apples and pears deemed unfit for marketing, and uses them to make cider.

There will be live musical entertainment on both nights beginning at around 9:30.  Keep in mind that as soon as the music begins, it becomes extremely difficult to hold conversations – no matter where you may be located.  

Wednesday night will feature DJ Ben Ben, Jasmin Moallem, and Ravid Plotkin (Nechi Nech) hosting Sima Noon.  On Thursday, the Paz Band will perform, along with Tuna and DJ Terra.  

Of course, there will be food stands and food trucks around the Festival grounds.  We're promised such delicacies as hand-made hotdogs, Segev hamburgers, smoked meats, baked potatoes, tortillas – as well as vegan dishes.

I've been to other beer festivals, but for the sole purpose of having a good time, nothing beats the festival right here in our own back yard.  Here are a few tips to make your experience even better.

● Plan to get there and go home by public transportation.  There are quite a few bus lines that go past Gan Atzmaut, and the Light Rail station is not far away.  If you come by car, try to have a Designated Driver who will drink less and get you home safely.  (I laughed out loud the first time I saw a t-shirt that said, "Designated Drinker.")  Even a few tastes of beer can add up and make you unsafe behind the wheel.

(Photo: Ido Nitay Flash)

● Don't promenade around on an empty stomach filled with beer.  Drink water and eat before the festival and even during, if possible.  Food in the belly slows down the absorption of alcohol and keeps you on an even keel.  Sipping water between beers also refreshes your taste buds.

● It's tempting to plunge right in, I know, but if you have the discipline, try taking a quick walk around the tables and stands to see which beers and other products look interesting to you.  Then you can start your rounds and actually talk to the brewers and servers about their beers.  They'll be happy to do so. 

(Photo: Ido Nitay Flash)

● The Jerusalem Beer Festival is a great opportunity to sample beers and styles you've never had before.  Keep it slow and pace yourself.  You don't have to drink every beer you see.  On the morning after the festival, wake up being glad you had a good time – and you learned a little something about good craft beer. 

The Jerusalem Beer Festival (Ir Habira) will take place Wednesday and Thursday, July 21 and 22, at Independence Park, starting at 6:00 p.m. each night.  The entrance fee is NIS 85 if you buy your ticket online (https://www.jerusalembeer.com/Tickets/en).  For soldiers, National Service, students or Yerushalmi card holders, the price is NIS 75.  Expect the price to be even higher if you buy your ticket at the gate.   

You have to be at least 18 to enter without parents.  Children under 12 will be allowed in only with parental supervision, and those between 5 and 12 are required to buy a ticket.  Children between 12 and 18 will not be allowed in under any circumstances.    

                [A similar version of this article appears in In Jerusalem,
          the local weekly newspaper of The Jerusalem Post.]                      

July 12, 2021

Yavne Beer Festival 🍻 July 21

 For general information on all local beer festivals, please see here.

Yavne Beer Festival

Wednesday, July 21 (6:00 - 11:00 p.m.) 

Sanhedrin Park

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1997239893797369/