January 16, 2022

Two sours and one bitter: Cosmo, Amaretto, and Paddington

An expanded IBAV Tasting Team came together
to consider two cocktail sours from Birateinu 
and one Extra Special Bitter from HaDubim.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
An expanded IBAV Tasting Team got together to drink three new beers:

Cosmo and Sour Bourbon Amaretto ‒ Two "cocktail" beers from Birateinu, the Jerusalem Beer Center.

Paddington ‒ An Extra Special Bitter (ESB) from HaDubim ("The Bears").

I know it's a strange combination, but that's how the cookie crumbled in early January.  The IBAV Tasting Team met in not-so-solemn assembly: Mike, Manny, Bob and yours truly.  The day was perfect for beer tasting.  Not too cold, not too hot.  Not too bright, not too depressing.  No smog to distort our perception, no pollution to foul our senses.   

Cosmo cocktail sour
from Birateinu:
Brewed with
cranberry juice and 
fresh orange juice.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

We began with the cocktail beers, brewed at the Sheeta Brewery in Arad.  These are actually the second and third cocktail beers from Birateinu.  Last year, Birateinu partner and brewer Shmuel ("Schmulz") Naky released his Bloody Mary Berliner beer (which you can read about here), and just now brought out a new version, which they say is closer to a real Bloody Mary.  But that will have to wait. 

All of the cocktail beers are based on the Berliner Weisse style, a tart and fruity wheat ale.  The sourness is introduced in the kettle in one of several ways.  The "cocktail" ingredients were then added during fermentation. 

First up was Cosmo, based on the Cosmopolitan cocktail, with added cranberry juice and fresh orange juice; alcohol by volume is 7.3%.  It was a hazy amber ("murky" was Mike's word), with a wafer-thin head and little noticeable carbonation.  The aroma was definitely sour with the fruit in the background.  The taste was mildly sour; no one thought it was too harsh.  Bob was able to perceive the fruit more than the rest of us.  Mike thought of canned cranberries, but was unimpressed.  "It's more of a fruit juice," he averred.  Manny admitted that it made a good cocktail, but questioned if we should treat it as a "beer."  That, in fact, was our unanimous verdict.

Sour Bourbon Amaretto
from Birateinu:
Bourbon-steeped almonds
and lime peel.

(Photo: Mike Horton)
With the Sour Bourbon Amaretto, we enjoyed more defined and complex tastes.  It is made with almonds steeped in Jim Beam bourbon whisky, and lime peel.  ABV is 5.9%. 

We all smelled the almonds, just like the Amaretto liqueur for which it is named.  The sourness was likewise very subdued.  On the palate, too, the almond flavor was dominant, backed up by the whisky.  Very cocktail-like indeed.  "It has more dimensions," Bob said, "but I still don't call it beer."  Manny agreed, adding, "It's good we're having food with it."  

I think we found our beer-tasting beer with Paddington, a classic Extra Special Bitter, also known as an English Pale Ale.  Unlike what the name leads you to expect, ESBs should be well balanced between the hop bitterness and the malt sweetness.  The HaDubim brewer-brothers Rotem and Dagan Bar-Ilan made this beer at the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kirat Gat.  ABV is 4.5%.  They brewed an ESB many years ago called Oketz ("Sting") and the recipe for Paddington differs only slightly.                      

Paddington is the name of the famous railroad station in central London, and of the fictional bear who was found there.  The link with things British and with HaDubim ("The Bears") is a perfect fit. 

Paddington Extra Special Bitter from HaDubim:
With Paddington the bear's statue in
London's Paddington Station.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

We poured out the clear golden beer and were immediately enamored with the sweet malt and yeasty aroma.  "Very bracing," said Manny, as we all nodded in agreement.  "This is good beer," declared Bob, with his first sip.  "The bitterness is very clean, and there are also sweet flavors of malt and caramel."  Mike appreciated the "nice round flavor," and said the beer reminded him of the Elephant & Castle ale from his London childhood.  (How early did he start drinking beer, I wonder?)  

I thought it was a proper ESB, showcasing a vegetal bitterness balanced with mild, sweet flavors of honey and malt.  Another fine and very drinkable beer from the HaDubim brothers.              .   

1 comment:

  1. These beers sound so good. I'm thirsty, but don't want to drink alone.


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