January 30, 2023

Artzi Moladati ➯ A New England IPA from Chalutz Chadash

Artzi Moladati, a New England IPA
from the Chalutz Chadash Brewery:
Like all IPAs, it should be drunk 
as fresh as possible. 

The second "Protest Beer" I drank from the Chalutz Chadash ("New Pioneer") Brewery in Beersheva is named Artzi Moladati ("My Country, My Homeland").  It's called a New England IPA, leading the drinker to expect a very cloudy appearance, powerful fruity hop aromas and flavors without much bitterness, and a creamy or "juicy" mouthfeel.        

(You can read about the first "Protest Beer" I drank, Bira v'Am Ha'aretz, and what these beers are protesting, by clicking here.) 

Here again, Chalutz Chadash owner and brewmaster Gilad Ne-Eman uses the label to impart some of his philosophy:  "A generation comes and a generation goes . . . and there is nothing new under the sun.  London doesn't wait for me, and neither does Tel Aviv."

In the lower corner of the label, it says, "Sarah was here," referring to Gilad's great-grandmother Sarah Glickleich, an educator and leading figure of the Jewish community in Israel before statehood.  The beer was made at the Sheeta Brewery in Arad.

All well and good, but what about the beer inside the bottle?  

From New England has come a
beer style which should be 
very hazy, full of fruity hop 
aromas and flavors, not very bitter,
with a smooth, creamy mouthfeel.

The appearance has the promise of a NEIPA: A very murky, almost opaque orange to beige color with a frothy head.  Gilad had warned us that the original color of this NEIPA was quite light, but due to the oxygenation of the hop oils, it had darkened.   

The aromas, too, might have been affected by the beer being less than completely fresh when I drank it.  The were scents of pine, perfume and citrus (grapefruit), but not very powerful.  The taste was very bitter (also not within the style guidelines), with indistinct flavors of citrus, herbal and onion.  Alcohol by volume is 5.9%, and it makes itself noticed.  The finish is long and bitter.  

All IPAs should be drunk as fresh as possible, due to the rapid deterioration of the delicate hop oils which give the beer its aroma and flavor.  I think in this case I got on the train too late to fully enjoy all that Artzi Moladati had to offer.                    

January 26, 2023

Oak & Ash Experimental IPAs ➯ Number 1

The four "experimental" IPAs
from the Oak & Ash Brewery:
On sale only in this four-pack.

It's been quite a while since the Oak & Ash Brewery in Beit Shemesh has come out with a new beer.  Brewer partners Asher Zimble and Leiby Chapler have concentrated on producing their core beers as well as Buster's ciders and mixed drinks.  Asher told me that this a situation brought on by the "economics of wholesale," meaning, you have to be sure that what you brew will sell.

Now, exploding out of nowhere, Oak & Ash has produced a very limited edition of four "experimental" IPAs that were brewed without thinking too much about the commercial side.  

"The concept here," continued Asher, "was to make cutting-edge beers to sell directly to people who are looking for new and interesting beers.  We didn't even set a budget for this brewing.  We put in as much fruit or tea or spices as we felt necessary to get the flavors we were looking for."

Only a few hundred of these four-packs were produced.  They are selling now for 80 shekels ($23.50) on the brewery's online store (https://oaa.co.il/oakash-shop/).                

IPA No. 1➯"Leiby Dreams of Peaches":
Brewed with white peach puree,
rosemary extract and vanilla.
The bottles are not sold individually, but only in the four-packs, where they are simply numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4.

I thank Asher and Leiby for sending me one of the first of these packs off the bottling line.  Now it seems that every beer lover (or at least beer geek) in Israel is ordering one for Fear Of Missing Out.

So let's begin with Number 1 -- "Leiby Dreams of Peaches," referring of course to Leiby Chapler.  It is a hazy IPA with additives of white peach puree, rosemary extract and vanilla.  For the 300 liter (80 gallon) batch of beer, 120 kilograms (265 pounds!) of peach puree was added.    

It pours out completely opaque, the color of peach juice, a kind of greyish orange juice.  There is no lasting head, but you can see flecks of fruit floating in the beer.

120 kilograms of white peach puree
were used to brew IPA No. 1:
"Leiby Dreams of Peaches."
Unripe peach is the dominant aroma, supported by a grassy/earthy scent, strong herbal and some vanilla.  The initial taste is stark bitterness, but with flavors of peaches, vanilla and a lingering spice that could be rosemary.  It's not the rosemary you cook or spice foods with; somehow the brewing process has changed the flavor.  There's also a slight sour tinge.  The body is full, with a juicy mouthfeel.  The 6.4% alcohol by volume was hardly felt.

In short, Number 1 was not to my taste, but I'm glad I didn't miss the experience of drinking it.  Oak & Ash should be appreciated for making these "experiments" and bringing them to the public.

Up next: Number 2.  Stay tuned.        

January 23, 2023

Veratiserum coffee beer from Birateinu

Veratiserum coffee beer from Birateinu:
An honest and true beer named after
an honest and true dog.

One of the more recent beers from Birateinu, the Jerusalem Beer Center, is called Veratiserum.  It's not as way out as some of the earlier beers from Birateinu that were brewed while Shmuel ("Schmulz") Naky was still there, but it's good in its simplicity.     

Let's get the name out of the way first.  Birateinu beers always have convoluted names.  The label calls it "an honest and true beer, like our dog Vera."  It also quotes from the Talmud: "When wine goes in, secrets come out.  We're pretty sure this also works with beer."

So we have a beer named Verity Serum, although spelled more poetically for the dog's sake.

Veratiserum is a coffee beer, made at the Sheeta Brewery in Arad.  Alcohol by volume is 4.2%.  Although most beers made with added coffee are porters or stouts, others can be lighter beers, like IPAs or cream ales.  Veratiserum is the latter.

The coffee flavor in Veratiserum blends well
with the cream soda background and
is not overwhelming.

It pours out a clear light brown color, with no head and no visible carbonation.  You get aromas of mild coffee, biscuit and white toast.  (The next time you toast white bread, give a sniff and you'll see what I mean.)  The taste is light coffee with cream, yes cream, or perhaps a better description would be a combination of coffee and cream soda.  I actually found it quite delicious.  The coffee flavor is not overwhelming, as these coffee beers can be, and the cream soda background blends perfectly with the coffee.

The mouthfeel is light, practically watery, with a mild tingly carbonation.  But the flavor is what makes this beer, and I'm a believer.  It would pair well with any dessert that goes with a cup of java, sweet dishes like vanilla ice cream, or semi-hard cheeses.                        

January 20, 2023

Bira v'Am Ha'aretz ➯ A real West Coast IPA from Chalutz Chadash

Bira v'Am Ha'aretz ("Beer and People of the Land"),
a West Coast IPA from Chalutz Chadash Brewery:
Bitter, fruity, citrusy and piney.

Gilad Ne-Eman, owner of the Chalutz Chadash ("New Pioneer") Brewery and of the Brew Shop in Beersheva, has brought out three beers which he calls the "Protest Series."  What are they protesting?  The forgotten businesses in the Old City of Beersheva, which have fallen by the wayside in the name of progress.  The labels of the three beers depict the walls of abandoned buildings in the Old City.

I missed the first "Protest" beer, named very strangely Isra-Trash, but I was able to obtain the next two.  Of these, the first one released is called Bira v'Am Ha'aretz, a Hebrew phrase which means "Beer and People of the Land."  In the Bible, People of the Land originally meant something like the landed gentry, people of substance.  Over the years, it has come to mean ignoramus, common people.  Each of us may decide which definition Gilad had in mind when he named the beer. 

What we think of when we hear West Coast IPA . . .
Gilad also uses the label to tell us: "The times are changing and the beer is strong, almost like reality, and it really is boring to prepare boring beer."

And if that doesn't give you enough existential angst, read the bottom line:  "Not the old elite, nor the new.  Not the liquid on the bottom of the bottle.  What remains is us.  Just a broken picture of all that we wanted to be."             

Not the best mood to be in before you drink a new beer!

 . . . but perhaps we should 
think locally when we drink  
an Israeli West Coast IPA.
Bira v'Am Ha'aretz is called a West Coast IPA -- an established beer style known for its high (some would say aggressive) bitterness, and bold hop aromas and tastes, notably citrus and pine.  In short, a perfect style for that band of beer lovers known as "hopheads."  Bira v'Am Ha'aretz is brewed at the Hatch Brewery in Jerusalem.  Alcohol by volume is 7.5%. 

The beer's appearance itself is quite enchanting.  A clear, reddish copper color, with little bubbles rising up to form a small but tightly packed head of foam.  The aromas are right there on the West Coast where they should be.  Citrus and other fruits, including pineapple, inside a blanket of what I have to call fresh cream.

The taste is very bitter, but not so much as to hide the flavors of blended fruits, tropical and citrus.  When you breathe out after you swallow -- the so-called retronasal effect -- you can even detect some malt sweetness.  

The finish is long and bitter, with fruit and pine.  The beer is not so much well balanced as well structured.  I believe that it's a real West Coast IPA -- and Chalutz Chadash has reminded us that Israel also has a West Coast.                   

January 6, 2023

New beer marks 400th anniversary of Danish Jewish community

Who let the Jews in?
It was King Christian IV.
(That's him in the picture.)

The Jewish community in Denmark has been marking its 400th anniversary. Yes, it was in 1622 that good King Christian IV invited a few dozen entrepreneurs into his kingdom to give the economy a boost. Among them were a few Jews – the founders of the community.

To help mark this historic occasion, the Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen commissioned the brewing of a special anniversary beer. Simply called “400,” it is a strong lager, similar to a bock beer, brewed at the Ørbæk Brewery on the island of Funen.

Museum Director Janus Møller Jensen said that “this isn’t a historical beer, but a beer that communicates history. For example, it comes in bottles of 750 milliliters, which by Danish tradition is four ‘units’ of beer, each unit representing one century.

“The beer is also brewed with additives of cane sugar and Chinese Keemun tea – products that were imported into Denmark by Jewish merchants in the 18th century.

The label of 400 beer shows
light and darkness:
Danish Jewish history has known 
periods of both. 

“Even the label was designed with a purpose. It shows both light and darkness, both of which have characterized Danish Jewish history. Despite periods of persecution and explicit antisemitism, the Jewish community has generally been protected by the Danish government. This culminated under the Nazi occupation in October 1943, when 7,550 Jews, almost all of the community, were ferried by the Danes to safety in neutral Sweden,” concluded Møller Jensen. 

The museum director also reminded me that one of the founders in 1873 of Tuborg, the great Danish brewery, was a Jew named Phillip W. Heyman. Tuborg has been brewed in Israel under license by the Israel Beer Breweries Ltd. since the 1990s.

In addition to sponsoring the beer, the museum is marking the 400th anniversary with an exhibition on the history of the Danish Jewish community (traveling to seven cities besides Copenhagen), publishing a map on Jewish Copenhagen and a book, and many talks and lectures. Three months ago the museum inaugurated a main entrance designed by the noted architect Daniel Libeskind.

In October 1943, almost of the Jewish community
were saved from a Nazi roundup, when fellow Danes
ferried them in small boats to neutral Sweden. 

Today, there are about 6,000 Jews living in Denmark (almost all in Copenhagen), although only 1,800 are formally members of the community. A majority are secular and well integrated into Danish life, but maintain a cultural connection to Jewish life.

But let’s get back to the 400 beer. Andreas Falkenberg, production manager at the Ørbæk Brewery, told me that it was brewed with five organic malts (three of them caramelized) and three different organic hops.

“The addition of the tea,” he explained, “was meant to round out the fruity and spicy tastes of the hops, and give a more pleasant mouthfeel. These elements balance out the relatively high alcoholic volume, which is 8%.”

In this rare photograph, the old blogger is seen
contemplating the color, aromas and flavors of the
400 beer from Denmark.

(Photo: Mike Horton) 

To enable me to find out for myself, Møller Jensen was kind enough to send me some bottles here in Jerusalem. And some friends were kind enough to drink it with me. They were glad they did.

The 400 beer pours out a beautiful red copper color with a thick and foamy head. The aroma is sweet and malty, like leavened bread, with the hops contributing notes of fruit and spice. The flavor is truly delicious: We compared it to dark chocolate, dried fruits, and sweet spice. The mouthfeel is full, with alcoholic warmth, and the finish is sweet.

 If you're lucky enough to get hold of 400, you should take it out of the refrigerator and let it warm up for 15-20 minutes before you drink it.  This is true for all strong and flavorful beers.  

It would pair well with any rich, roasty or spicy food, oriental dishes, and chocolaty desserts.

All of my tasters said that this was an excellent beer, a superlative example for a country that has a long and respected brewing tradition – and a fitting way to commemorate this festive anniversary of Jewish life in Denmark.

                                  [This article first appeared in 

                                 The Jerusalem Post Magazine

                                    on Friday, January 6, 2023.]     

January 5, 2023

Two barrel-aged doublebocks for two special occasions ➯ OMG Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doublebock (2019) from BeerBazaar & Barrel-Aged Doublebock (Vintage 2021) from Shevet

If you're like me, you've been putting away stronger beers, beers that can age well, for "special occasions."  Only, most often, the special occasion is slow in coming, if it comes at all.

So we have to decide to make our own occasions special.

I did that recently to drink two barrel-aged doublebock lagers ("Doppelbock" in the original German) that have been waiting patiently for me to make up my mind.  

Shevet Brewstillery's Barrel-Aged Doublebock:
Aging in the bottle does it good.

The first was the Barrel-Aged Doublebock, Vintage 2021, from the Shevet Brewstillery in Pardes Hanna.  The label was signed by Neil Wasserman, CEO of the brewery, and by Brewmaster (at the time) Felix Magdziarz.  It is bottle number 320 of 437.  The alcohol by volume was 8%.  

The occasion was a synagogue kiddush (post-service repast) which was held on the Sabbath of the holiday of Sukkot.  I decided it was enough of a reason to open the bottle. 

Because of religious restrictions, there were no photographs nor written notes taken.  But I remember the beer and the reactions to it.  Both were exceptional.  

The participants at the kiddush were no strangers to alcoholic beverages, but they had never experienced a beer like this -- or even known that such a style existed.

The Shevet Brewstillery in Pardes Hanna
uses whisky barrels to age beer,
and beer barrels to age whisky.
I had foolishly expected that my 750 milliliter bottle would be more than sufficient for the few sips that everyone would try.  But they wanted more -- and more -- and there was widespread disappointment when the bottle soon was emptied.  

What so excited their tastebuds?

Back when the beer was first put on the market, Brewmaster Magdziarz had told me that the original doublebock beer was brewed in January 2020, fermented in steel tanks, and then just a portion of it (500-600 liters) was aged in new American oak charred barrels for six months.

"After six months," Magdziarz continued, "we blended a few of the barrels, added carbonation, and bottled.  The beer was released in April 2021."

What should we be looking out for?, I remember asking.

Neil Wasserman, CEO of the 
Shevet Brewstillery in Pardes Hanna.

Magdziarz answered that after barrel-aging, we can expect the beer to be "a little sweeter and a little darker than the original doppelbock, with flavor notes of vanilla, oak, nuts, and some smoke from the charring."     

The close to two years that the beer has been aging in my closet has probably mellowed out the original flavors, but they were still unmistakable.

The color was a soft red amber and, not surprisingly, very little carbonation was left.  My fellow kiddush participants noted several different aromas and tastes: Caramel, vanilla and wood (from the barrel), some strong alcohol, and even a dash of coconut.  The body was full without being heavy.  

These are all good, warming sensations you should expect from a strong, barrel-aged beer. 

I noticed that some of the reviews of the beer when it was launched mentioned a strong taste of apples, an indicator of acetaldehyde, which is an off-flavor resulting from incomplete fermentation.  Aging a beer is a good way to get rid of acetaldehyde -- and this was one of the benefits we all enjoyed by letting my Shevet Barrel-Aged Doublebock have a long sleep in the bottle.  Apparently, the smoky flavors also dissipated.  

The old blogger and his three sons toasted the 
first night of Hanukka and the
final game of the Mondial World Soccer Cup 
by opening an aged bottle of 
OMG Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doublebock
from the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat.  

My second doublebock was sleeping in my closet and fridge even longer.  It was BeerBazaar's OMG Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doublebock from 2019.  This bottle was signed by BeerBazaar Brewmaster Lior Weiss, and was bottle number 317 out of 498.  Alcohol by volume was 7%.

The BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat has been issuing annual editions of OMG (Oh My Goodness!) beers since 2019, each one a different barrel-aged style.  

(You can read my earlier posts on previous OMG beers, including the 2019 Doublebock, by clicking here and here and here.)

I opened this one with my family around me -- wife, sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids -- as we watched the final game of the Mondial Soccer World Cup, which saw Argentina beat France.  It was also the first candle-lighting night of Hanukka.  I thought the intersection of two such memorable events made it a "special occasion."

The Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doublebock (2019) from
the BeerBazaar Brewery was the first of the
OMG series of barrel-aged beers.

We all gathered around as I opened the bottle of OMG Doublebock -- and the beer promptly gushed out.  Luckily we were near a bowl when this happened, so it didn't cause too much of a mess.  Beer that has been aged in bottles often foams over, especially if it's being served at room temperature, as we were doing.

It didn't affect the quality of the beer, though.  The golden orange liquid, only slightly hazy, gave off rich aromas of bourbon, vanilla, burnt sugar and oak wood.  The sweet taste was rich with more booze, chocolate, caramel and oak.  The mouthfeel was surprisingly smooth, without much alcoholic heat.  

The OMG Doublebock gave me and the sons just the right feeling for this special occasion.  In fact, that's what helped make it a special occasion!     

January 1, 2023

Thai Pale Ale = Thaipa from Alexander

Thaipa Session IPA from the
Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer:
Fruit, citrus and pine, oh my!

The newest beer from the Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer is Thaipa, which is a contraction for Thai Pale Ale.  But in effect, the label calls it a Session IPA.

Why Thai?  Well, the beer began as a private label beer, brewed by Alexander, for sale only in the Thai House restaurant in Tel Aviv.  Alexander CEO Ori Sagy and Thai House owner Yariv Melili designed a beer that they wanted to pair excellently with Thai food.  Only recently was the beer released for sale to the general public.  The brewery was kind enough to send a bottle (or two) to the old blogger.

Thaipa pours out a light golden yellow color with a slight haze.  The head is thin and doesn't last long.  

The hop aromas are strong and distinct.  You get tropical fruits, orange-led citrus and some light pine.  The taste is nice and bitter: A pleasant hop bitterness that brings flavors of tropical fruits, white grapefruit, some herbal and a sweet edge of lemon drops.  

The increasing popularity of Thai food
demanded an appropriate beer.
The mouthfeel is medium thick, tingly and astringent, with a slight alcoholic background. 

Thaipa is a delicious IPA, bitter and flavorful.  (It's called a Session IPA, even though the 5.3% ABV is a little high for this style.)  It definitely would go well with the strong flavors (spicy, sweet and savory) of Thai and other Asian food. The citrus and herbal hops contrast the richness of the food, but there's also enough malt to balance out however much heat you like in your dish. 

Don't forget, though, that Thaipa would also pair well with all the other foods calling for an IPA: For example, strong, spicy dishes like curries, Vietnamese and Mexican food, pizza, fruity and sweet desserts and cakes, and mild cheeses.  Enough for everybody to enjoy!