|Shikma Bitter Wheat:|
A hoppy Hefeweizen.
On the label:
"Contains Israeli malt."
(Photo: Yochai Maytal)
Last year, the Israel Beer Breweries Ltd. (IBBL), brewers of Tuborg and Carlsberg, launched their own craft beer brand -- Shikma. They opened a separate brewery next to their mega-brewery in Ashkelon, to emphasize that this was a real, free-standing craft beer. They produced three styles: Amber Ale, Märzen Lager, and IPA. [Refresh you memory about those beers here.]
Last month, Shikma introduced their fourth style: Bitter Wheat. The beer itself is meant to be a kind of hybrid between classical Bavarian wheat, using wheat beer yeast, and an IPA using plenty of New World hops. We'll get back to that.
Even more newsworthy is Shikma's decision to brew this beer with malt from home-grown barley -- an Israeli first. According to Shikma's own sources, the barley variety was developed over a period of two years with assistance from the Volcani Center in Rishon LeZion and Agridera in Gedera. Since there are no malting facilities in Israel, the grains were flown to the Wayermann Malting Company in Bamberg, Germany, before being returned to Israel as malted barley.
Only 30% of the malt used in Bitter Wheat was this Israeli-grown barley, but Shikma's final goal is to replace all of its foreign base malt (non-specialty) with Israeli malt.
This is not insignificant news, people. It may even mark the birth of a whole new Israeli enterprise.
But what is the result that ends up in our glass?Bitter Wheat pours out the color of wheat beer, light amber and mid-hazy, with a fizzy head that quickly vanishes. The aroma brings the phenolic cloves of wheat yeast and some bread from the malt. Some thin floral notes from the hops. The taste is bitter (but not so much as the name suggests), and with the pretty typical wheat beer flavor of cloves and some citrus fruit. The finish is bitter/sweet and dry.
|Bitter Wheat is all about|
money, sex and power:
The David Mamet play, that is,
not the beer!
Look, I am not a big fan of Bavarian wheat beer (Hefeweizen), and for all of the hoopla, that's what Bitter Wheat finally is. If this is your style, you will enjoy it -- and let's give a boost to Israeli barley malt.