August 4, 2021

Changes at Oak & Ash Brewery: New partners, new beers, new ideas

Changes have been apace at the Oak & Ash Brewery in Beit Shemesh (Sorek Industrial Park).  

Three partners of the Oak & Ash Brewery
celebrate their new beers and beverages:
(from left) Asher Zimble, Leiby Chapler
and Moti Horovits.

(Photo:Mike Horton)

A new partner has come on board, Amit Zeev, CEO of the Dor Alon chain of gasoline (petrol) stations, and with him, Moti Horovits, who is now working at the brewery in business development and marketing.  The brewing stays in the capable hands of Asher Zimble and Leiby Chapler. 

At the initiative of the new partners, a new beer brand called "A beer" is being brewed and marketed.

The Oak & Ash brand has been divided into two: Ash, which will be the regular line of beers, and Oak, beers and other beverages which are aged in oak barrels.

Oak Barrel Aged Cider:
The first product in the new Oak line
of barrel aged beverages.

The first Oak product is Oak Barrel Aged Cider, 9.2% alcohol, aged for six months in oak barrels which previously held whisky and red wine.  

And now for the details.

Amit Zeev recently announced that he will be leaving his position at Dor Alon at the end of the year to take up "new challenges" in the field of retailing.  It may be that one of these challenges is marketing the new "A beer" line and other beverages for Oak & Ash.  Certainly, Zeev has excellent contacts in the retailing world; the Dor Alon chain included the popular AM:PM convenience stores and the Alonit food stores at the gas stations.  

The four "A beer" beers
were conceived by 
Amit Zeev, a new partner
in the Oak & Ash Brewery:
"A beer" means "knight"
in Hebrew.

(Photo:Mike Horton)

Although Zeev conceived the "A beer" line of beers, it was Zimble and Chapler who transformed the idea into actual beverages.  The labels, which are entirely in English, are the brainchild of Zeev -- from the name "A beer" (which means "knight" in Hebrew) to the design of knightly armor and heraldry, and even to the wording.  The beer is called a "Product of Buldigania," which has a secret meaning known only to Zeev.  "Est. 1977" -- because that's when Zeev was born.  Even the bottle cap has has an "A" (for Amit) and the silhouette of a wolf ("zeev" in Hebrew). 

The descriptions of each beer are whimsical fantasies.  I can't resist quoting two of them here.  From the bottle of Dark Lager:

The only beer mentioned in the dark prophecies is the infamous A beer from the hills of Buldigania Island.  A mix of 42 ingredients, including Octiron, Spice Melange, Dust, Energon, Aether and Mithril.  Concocted during the gathering of Kal-Turak, Lessa, Haplo and Moses the Insulator on Juram's name day.  With a tang of Bupu's charm and a whiff like a Balrog's whip.  One does not merely drink the A beer but quaffs the unholy substance as cold as a Delta Vega midwinter day.

For it was foretold -- A beer favors the brave! 

From the bottle of IPA:

Something new is brewing at Oak & Ash.
(Photo:Mike Horton)

A beer is the mind-killer.  A beer is the little death that brings total obliteration.  I will face my A beer.  I will permit it to pass over me and through me.  And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.  Where the A beer has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain.

For is it not written -- A beer favors the brave!  

Innovative marketing aside, the four "A beer" beers are worth trying.

Once a journalist, . . .:
The old blogger interviews Moti Horovits (left)
and Asher Zimble at the Oak & Ash Brewery. 

(Photo:Mike Horton)

The Lager is 5% alcohol, pale and clear.  You don't see the carbonation, but you feel it.  Stick your nose in the glass (not in the beer!) and you'll get some smells of lager yeast, grass and wheat cookies.  The taste is lemony, with a mid-bitter, crisp and dry finish.  

The Red Lager is indeed a clear reddish brown, also 5% alcohol.  With the aroma, you get strong malt and caramel: On the mark for a red lager.  The taste is mildly bitter, with more malt, caramel and toastiness.  The mouthfeel is astringent with fine, tingly carbonation.     

Also being produced at the Oak & Ash Brewery:
Arak cocktails (lemonade and red grapefruit)
and Buster's Hard Lemonade.

(Photo:Mike Horton)
The Dark Lager is a translucent, very dark brown with a thin and creamy beige head.  There's an aroma of malt, caramel, chocolate and yeast.  The  flavor is a bit sweet, with roasted malt, dark bread, and caramel.  Actually, a very nice combination.  It's medium-bodied (5% alcohol) and you finish with a nice dry astringency.   

The IPA is a clear, mid-amber color with light carbonation.  The aromas brought some malt, and pine from the hops.  The taste was bitter, full of piney hoppiness and citrus.  No other distinguishable fruits that I could get, but if you're looking for a bitter pine IPA, this is for you.  Alcohol by volume is 6%.   

A panoramic view of the Oak & Ash Brewery
in Beit Shemesh (Sorek Industrial Park).

(Photo:Mike Horton)
As mentioned, the first product in the Oak line of barrel-aged beers is actually an apple cider.  But calling it a cider isn't fair.  Aging it in ex-whiskey, ex-red wine charred barrels for six months gives it aromas and flavors closer to wine: Oak, vanilla, whiskey, caramel and of course apples.  It really is an exquisite drinking experience, and should be enjoyed more like a white wine.  Be aware, though, that the aging process adds to the price.  A single bottle of 330 ml sells for 60 shekels.

In the Ash line of regular beers, there are five new beers which have just been released.  When I visited the brewery, the beers were not yet bottled, but I was able to taste them direct from the tank.

The five new Ash beers from Oak & Ash Brewery: 
(from left) Belgian Strong Ale, Cherry Sour,
Amber Ale, New England IPA, and Salty Caramel Porter.
(Photo: Yochai Maytal at the 
Beer Israel Facebook Group.)

Cherry Sour (5% alcohol) -- "Kriek with a twist" is what brewer Asher Zimble called this beer, referring to the famous Belgian tart cherry beers. Cherries and malt are noticeable here, ending very dry.

Amber Ale (5%) -- Nicely balanced with malt sweetness and hop bitter fruit.

Belgian Strong Ale (9.5%) -- Like a Belgian Trippel; dark amber, fruity esters from the yeast, and alcoholic.

New England IPA (6%) -- Hazy orange, tastes of pineapple, pine and fresh hops. Creamy and juicy enough to qualify as a real NEIPA.

Salty Caramel Porter (6%) -- Really dark brown, aromas of caramel and roasted malt, flavors of chocolate, caramel and salt (what else?).  A successful combination of sweet and salty.

To sum up, there are lots of good things going on at Oak & Ash: New blood, new ideas, new beers.  It pays to be paying attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment. L'chayim!