June 21, 2022

Alexander Tropical IPA: A fruit cocktail of aromas and flavors

The Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer is one of Israel's most established craft breweries.  Owner and brewer Ori Sagy concentrates on maintaining the quality of their excellent core beers, but from time to time also issues a seasonal brew.  Such is the new Tropical IPA, an India Pale Ale that lives up to its name.  It's made with enough hops (Galaxy, Mosaic and Citra) to give it a crisp bitterness and a salad of tropical fruit flavors.  It also includes oats (for extra creaminess) and sugar (to give the yeast more food to make more alcohol – it's a strong 7.8%). 

The hop aromas reach you as you pour out the clear, light amber beer – a fruit cocktail of citrus, pineapple, peach and mango.  The flavor also highlights the tropical fruits, but puts them inside an envelope of bitterness.  You feel the full, creamy body of this beer, some alcoholic warmth, and a long finish. 

My drinking partner Moshe opined that Tropical IPA "has the taste of a summer beer, but the heaviness of a winter beer."  At any rate, it is truly delicious. 

June 20, 2022

Srigim Brewery marks 10th anniversary with smoky Amber Ale

Birat Ha'asor ("Beer of the Decade"):
Brewed to mark the 10th anniversary of the
Srigim Brewery.  An Amber Ale with
smoky aromas and tastes.

To mark its 10th anniversary, the Srigim Brewery in Srigim (Li-On) has produced Birat Ha'asor ("Beer of the Decade"), a smoky Amber Ale.  Srigim brews two brands of beer – Ronen and Emek Ha'ela.  Very rarely have they brewed anything other than their core beers, and never have they brewed anything under the Srigim label.

Ofer Ronen, a partner and brewer at the Srigim Brewery, told me that he took this unusual step to spotlight the 10th anniversary of the entire brewery, rather than Ronen or Emek Ha'ela individually.  "My partner Ohad Ayalon and I are fans of the smoked beer style, especially from the Bamberg area of Germany.  Therefore we selected this style for our anniversary beer and used Wayermann smoked malt, which is also from from Bamberg."

Not the most current photo, but Ofer Ronen,
partner of the Srigim Brewery, 
and the old blogger haven't really changed much!

(Photo: Mike Horton)  

Barat Ha'asor is an attractive clear, red-amber color with an off-white head.  You immediately get the smoky scent, but it's not harsh as some beers of this style can be.  My drinking partner Moshe compared it to smoked meat, even "pastrami."  The taste is just like it smells, not very bitter, with the addition of light malt sweetness, toasted bread and some light sourness,   ABV is 6.1%.  (Not to worry: The smoky aroma and taste come from smoked malts, not from meat!)

We both thought that it was a "cool" beer – very tasty and drinkable.  It helps if you're a fan of this style, but even if you're not, this is a good beer to make the introduction.  

June 15, 2022

Malka Tropical IPA and Herzl Va'adat Kishut (2022 version)

Tropical IPA from the
Malka Brewery:  Pineapple and 
other tropical fruits aplenty.

The Malka Brewery in the Tefen Industrial Area also brews beer for the Herzl brand.  The two are actually united by the parent company, Hacarem Spirits Ltd.  Both Malka and Herzl have issued new beers in time for summer drinking.  

The Malka beer is called Tropical IPA.  It's a clear, golden amber color, with a dominant aroma of pineapple and some pine. The flavor is crisply bitter with pineapple and other fruits.  It has a medium body and a tingly carbonation that will cleanse your palate if you're having it with food.  Alcohol by volume is 5.5%.            

The Herzl beer is the 2022 version of Va'adat Kishut ("Hops Committee"), a "double dry-hopped IPA."  This means that the aromatic hops are added twice during the fermentation.  The hops they used were Citra and Idaho 7.  Although the latter was first released in 2015, it's the first time I've heard of it in an Israeli beer.  The marketing material says it adds flavors and aromas of tropical and citrus fruit, specifically tangerine, as well as well as pine and tea.  Let's see.   

The 2022 version of 
Herzl Va'adat Kishut is
double dry-hopped with
Citra and Idaho 7. 

 This Va'adat Kishut is a very slightly cloudy golden amber color with a lively carbonation that supports a long-lasting white head.  I perceived powerful aromas and flavors of tropical and citrus fruits and pine resin, very bitter, yet finishing with fruity sweetness.  It also has a palate-cleansing carbonation, but the intense flavors of this beer may overwhelm your food if it's too mild.  At 6.5% ABV, this is a thirst-quenching summer beer, and definitely not boring. 

(Read about the first Va'adat Kishut here.) 

Here are two hoppy and fruity beers from up north.  Try to enjoy them both during the sultry days ahead of us.                  

June 10, 2022

Three Imperial Stouts from Chalutz Chadash: Project 27 ● Sho'er HaYom ● Sho'er HaLayla

In addition to brewing his Chalutz Chadash beers,
Gilad Ne-Eman owns and operates the 
Brew Shop Israel and organizes
craft beer festivals in Beersheva. 

Good things in small packages, as they say.  One of the smaller jewels on the Israeli craft brewing scene is the Chalutz Chadash ("New Pioneer") Brewery in Beersheva.  The brewery was founded and is maintained by Gilad Ne-Eman, first under the name of HeChalutz ("The Pioneer") and then Tog (with partner Tomer Ronen).  Along the way, Gilad also operates the Brew Shop Israel and organizes beer festivals in Beersheva.  Gilad is a true entrepreneur, disregarding nay-sayers and prophets of doom, and forging ahead with his brewing and business plans.                  

Chalutz Chadash has come out with three very interesting Imperial Stouts.  They were all brewed at the Hatch Brewery in Jerusalem.

Project 27, an Experimental Imperial Stout
from Chalutz Chadash, is available in
gift packages of two bottles, a bar of chocolate from
Korint chocolate makers, and a branded glass. 

The newest is Project 27, an Experimental Imperial Stout, made with mead and cocoa nibs.  Gilad explains that the beer and the mead were fermented separately, and then blended together before being aged with cocoa nibs from Korint chocolate makers in Beersheva.  Korint participates in the AllGood project whose members hire people with disabilities. 

The beer pours out the darkest brown, opaque to all light, with a thin tan head of fine bubbles.  You see the full body even as you pour.  The aromas bring intense roast and dark chocolate, with some coffee in the background.  I found the taste reversing the aroma: Strong bitter coffee is up front, with chocolate in the rear.  The aftertaste is long and bitter with some alcohol heat in the throat, and low carbonation on the tongue.  

I compared Project 27 to drinking a cup of strong coffee with a little cocoa powder sprinkled in.  I ask those in a higher pay scale than mine: Where is the mead?  I assume it's there, adding something to the aroma and taste, but I could not distinguish it.  Project 27 is a very imperial Imperial Stout (not only because of the 10.1% ABV), very enjoyable if you sip it as you should, perhaps with a piece of cheesecake or aged cheese.      

One question remains: The slogan on the impressive black-and-white label says, "There are many ways to die, one of them is to live."  I think I know English pretty well, having gone to elementary school in the Bronx, but I have no idea what this means.  If anyone can help me out, I'd be much obliged.

Sho'er HaYom and Sho'er HaLayla:
Two Imperial Stouts from the
Chalutz Chadash Brewery in Beersheva.

The other two Imperial Stouts are named Sho'er HaYom ("Day Watchman") and Sho'er HaLayla ("Night Watchman").  Though they are both dated 2021, be assured that they are the most current versions of these beers.  The both of them began as the same batch of Imperial Stout, which was divided into two.  Sho'er HaYom was bottled immediately after fermentation, while Sho'er HaLayla was aged for six weeks in ex-bourbon barrels from the Milk & Honey Distillery in Tel Aviv.  They both have an ABV of 9.3%.   

The labels compare them in pictures and words to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the famous novel by Robert Lewis Stevenson of the tortured schizophrenic soul (Dr. Jekyll) who was a healer by day but turned into a killer at night.  The labels also include Stevenson's quote: "You must suffer me to go my own dark way."  Indeed.

Sho'er HaYom has the color and opaqueness of Project 27 (as does Sho'er HaLayla).  The aromas are coffee, some phenolic spice from the hops, and low intensive alcohol and roast.  The taste opens with intense dark chocolate, followed by bitter coffee.  The finish is long, spicy and bitter-sweet.  The mouthfeel is full-bodied and a bit sharp.  I call this a "tough" Imperial Stout.  It's not for sissies or for Stout novices, but it is enjoyable for what it is: A warming, self-indulgent beer that you savor in small sips.

The Chalutz Chadash Brewery
received top rating on Untappd
for all Israeli breweries.

Sho'er HaLayla is quite similar.  The barrel aging adds a lot more alcohol (bourbon whiskey) to the first whiffs, along with black coffee, chocolate and wood.  The taste is very complex, as you would expect from barrel aging: There's whiskey, of course, along with coffee, hazelnut and vanilla, with chocolate in the background.  The finish here too is strong and bitter, with a mouthfeel that brings a full body and alcoholic warmth. 

Gilad must be doing something right with all of his beers, not just these three Imperial Stouts, since Chalutz Chadash just received top rating on Untappd for all Israeli breweries.  This is a site where people all over the world can announce which beer they are drinking and give it a rating (0 - 5).  Beers from Chalutz Chadash got a rating average of 3.744.  Congratulations!

You can order these Imperial Stouts and other Chalutz Chadash beers from their online store at:      https://www.b7beerhouse.com/newpioneerbeer