Over the past few months, there's been a run of barrel-aged beers from Israeli craft breweries.
Putting beer to sleep in wooden barrels is not something new – European breweries have been doing it for centuries – but it is a practice that has been renewed by the resurgence of craft brewing around the world.
|The style of this year's
barrel-aged OMG from the |
BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat is a Baltic Porter,
a stronger version of the traditional English Porter.
Past OMG styles have included English Strong Ale,
Double Bock, and Imperial Stout.
Maturing a strong-style beer in a used barrel adds depth and complexity to the aroma and flavor, and may also have an effect on the alcoholic content. The beer absorbs the flavors of the wood (normally oak) as well as of the former occupants (normally whiskey or wine). Beers can pick up flavors such as the wood itself, and chemical compounds that duplicate floral aromas, caramel and vanilla. The color can also darken.
Since most of the beers chosen for maturing are high alcohol by volume anyway, the barrel aging makes them even more dark, flavorful and boozy.
The BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat, with brewpubs in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv–Jaffa, has released the fifth annual edition of its OMG, a series of strong, barrel-aged beers of different styles. This year's version is a Baltic Porter, a stronger cousin to the traditional English-style Porter. It was aged in whisky and rum barrels (from the Golan Distillery) for five months, and is 7.9% ABV. It is sold in 750 ml bottles, each one numbered and only about 1,000 were released.
The Baltic Porter is a clear deep ruby color, and if poured correctly has a large rocky beige head. The aromas are not especially complex: I got roasted malt, alcohol and oak wood. The bitterness comes not only from the hops, but also from the roasted malt, which carries flavors of chocolate and dried fruits. There is also the taste of oak and booze with a sour note. You end with alcoholic warmth, spice on the tongue and a long, dry finish.