December 26, 2022

Schnitt Beer comes to NYC

Pooah (Foofoo) Alon, CEO of Beerternational,
gifted the old blogger and wife Trudy with
fresh cans of Schnnitt beer brewed in New York.

Trudy and I added value to our September visit to New York City by meeting with Pooah Alon, known to her friends as Foofoo.  Israeli-born Foofoo heads a company named Beerternational which sells foreign beers in America, including Schnitt beer from Tel Aviv.  But she does this without importing them.  I'll explain later.

We met Foofoo at Cleveland 19, an Israeli restaurant in the SoHo neighborhood, and one of the 27 locations in NYC where Schnitt beer is sold.

[Click here to read my full article on the Schnitt Brewpub itself.]

Foofoo came to America with her husband seven years ago, the first four in Boston before moving to New York.  She's no stranger to the world of beer, having worked for Norman Premium, an importer and distributor of alcoholic beverages in Israel, and then at the Sam Adams Brewery Visitors' Center in Boston.  Her brother, Yoav Alon, is a partner in the Schnitt Brewpub.

"As soon as I got here, I was thinking about importing beers from Israel as well as from other countries," Foofoo told us.  "But I soon realized how expensive it was to physically bring over bottles of beer.  [Writer's note: All Israeli craft beers are bottled, whereas almost all American craft beers are now canned.]  We came up with an idea which isn't exactly new, but is rarely utilized: Contract brew the foreign beers in U.S. breweries, while tweaking the recipes, labels and branding to better fit American tastes and standards."  

Beerternational did its homework and found breweries in New York State and Chicago that were willing to brew the foreign beers.  Today, the company represents four overseas beer brands: Japas, women brewers of Japanese origin who live in Brazil, Oslo Brewery in Norway, Narcose Brewery in Brazil, and of course Schnitt from Tel Aviv.  These brands are now sold only in the NYC area, but Foofoo is working on finding new markets in other states.  The new year will see Schnitt beers sold in Florida. 

"The foreign brewers have very little initial expenses," explains Foofoo.  "They have to register their brand in the U.S., and adapt their branding and labels to American requirements.  We pay for the brewing itself, and then of course, take a percentage on all the beer sales." 

More specifically, the three Schnitt beers sold in New York are brewed and canned at the Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore, Long Island.  "They may not taste exactly the same as the beers you get in Tel Aviv," said Foofoo, "but they are very close."

To find out for myself, I joined IBAV Tasting Team members Oded Bartov and Bat Sheva Yanir to try the three beers.

The Tel Aviv Summer Ale is a hazy pale ale, 4.8% alcohol by volume, with aromas of very mild floral and some yeast.  The taste is not very defined, although Oded noted some apricot flavor.  It is well balanced, mid-bitter and, as the name says, is a nice summertime drink.  "If it were August and I was on the beach, I would drink it," Bat Sheva pronounced.    

The Tower of David vs the Tower of Schnitt:
IBAV Tasting Team members Bat Sheva Yanir (right) and
Oded Bartov (center) joined the old blogger in Jerusalem
to taste the three Schnitt beers brewed in New York.

(Photo: Mike Horton)

The Jaffa IPA (India Pale Ale) is brewed with oranges, which Oded recognized as the dominant aroma and flavor of this beer.  More precisely, Bat Sheva said that the aroma brings the sensation of sweet orange cake, while the taste is more like bitter orange rind.  It is indeed quite bitter, as a West Coast IPA should be, and the ABV is 6.5%.

The Malabiscous Sour is brewed with rose petals and hibiscus, giving it a lovely red amber (or red grapefruit) color.  It has a sour and yeasty aroma.  I noticed a faint flavor of rose water, but Oded said it was only because I knew beforehand it was an ingredient.  ABV is 5%.  Bat Sheva was disappointed with the low presence of both malt and hops.  It is sour, but not overly so.  If you are new to sour beers, this is a good one to start with. 

Foofoo says that New Yorkers have reacted very favorably to these Schnitt beers.  Currently, additional batches are being brewed, and perhaps additional beers will be introduced.    

December 9, 2022

Tropify from BeerBazaar ➯ Israel's first Sour IPA

Tropify by BeerBazaar:
A "Hazy Sour Session IPA."

Hot on the heels of tasting a Cold IPA and a Wheat IPA, we now have a Sour IPA.  This one is from the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat and it's called Tropify, a "Hazy Sour Session IPA."  The label says that it's brewed with "four curious hops," and the ABV is 4.5%.

Sour IPA, I found out, is supposed to be a hybrid combining the tartness of a kettle soured beer with the hoppy, fruited softness of a hazy IPA.  It isn't a recognized beer style or even a sub-style.  It's more like a brewing experiment that very few American craft brewers will even touch.  The reason: Nothing clashes so much as the tastes of "sour" and "bitter."  In order to get the balance right, you have to find a way to soften the bitterness.  

That's a chemically technical question that I would rather not get into (mostly because I don't understand it myself!), but what do we have with Tropify?

Once we believed that different
locations on the tongue sensed
sour and bitter (and salty and sweet).
This is no longer considered scientific.
It pours out a semi-hazy yellow color with a small, fast-dissipating head.  The aroma certainly is sour, specifically lemon, with undertones of pine and flowers.  The taste is also tart lemon and a bit yeasty cake.  As sour beers go, it is quite moderate -- and also not very bitter.  The body is light, with an astringent and fizzy mouthfeel, and a finish that is tart and semi-sweet.

Tropify was made in a very limited batch of only 1,040 bottles, so by the time you read this, you may not be able to find any at your local BeerBazaar.  However, if past experience means anything, BeerBazaar may very well bring Tropify back in the future.  There are not many other Sour IPAs available in Israel.  In fact, there are not any other Sour IPAs here.  So I suggest you try it when you can.