February 26, 2023

Hatch launches four new beers

The air was cold but the atmosphere
was hot: Hatch Brewery's 
"Connect to Craft" event. 

The Hatch Brewery in Jerusalem was the scene last week for the launching of four new beers.  It was cold in the brewery building, but the atmosphere was warmed up by the good beer and food, and the conviviality of the 50 or so guests.  

Thanks go to the Hatch team for preparing this evening: Owner Ephraim Greenblatt, Production Manager Yisrael Atlow, Brewmaster Shmuel ("Schmulz") Naky, Chefs Yisrael Feivish and Mordechai Cohen, and Avi Levy-Stevenson, social media and marketing manager.  Photographer Idan Goor was also on hand to explain his work and the photographs which were chosen to illustrate the new Hatch beer labels.               

Ephraim explained the concept behind the name of the event, "Connect to Craft."  There will be more such events, he promised, aimed at building the connection between the beer-drinking public and Israeli craft beer.  In fact, the Hatch Brewery will be using "Connect to Craft" as its tagline.  

The assembled guests didn't just drink the beers.  As each beer was presented, it was paired with a food item. 

So we began with Training Session, a 4% ABV Session IPA.  It isn't very bitter for an IPA, with aroma of citrus fruit and hops.  The taste brings a very quiet lemon and some toast.  The beer was paired with a delicious artichoke soup, which balanced out whatever bitterness was in the beer.  Quite successful.

Hatch Training Session IPA:
Hoppy and citrusy.

(Photo: Idan Goor)

The photo on the label was surprisingly a rain forest that Idan photographed in South Africa.  Says the label: "The denseness of the trees and the limitless expanse reminded us of the appearance of hops, but especially their versatility.  So based on the photograph, we made a Session IPA that's (almost) suitable for every occasion, that reminds us that there's a huge and spectacular world outside that's just waiting for a good opportunity for a beer."      

Hatch Blizzard Bay
Hoppy Winter Ale:
Roasted malt, chocolate,
caramel and pine.

(Photo: Idan Goor)
Next up was Blizzard Bay, a Hoppy Winter Ale, at 7.9% ABV.  It was the darkest brown.  The hops (Simcoe from the U.S. and Taiheke from New Zealand) were stronger in the aroma than in the taste.  This is a beer that's maybe halfway there to  be a stout, with flavors of roasted malt, light chocolate, rich caramel and pine, and alcohol in the aftertaste. 

This was paired with portobello mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in a rich sauce made with the spices used to cure pastrami. It was a delicious match. Both the food and beer were flavorful, but complementary rather than clashing.

The photo on this label is a suitable snowy scene that Idan Goor took in the Austrian mountains.  "In this photo," explains the label, "you can make out a bicycle rider disappearing into the snowy horizon.  Like the rider who is on his way to an adventure, this beer is a snowy trip that reveals wonders to us at every stage."               

Hatch Choppin' It Up
Barrel-Aged Belgian Triple:
Sweet with spiced, lemon
and wooden barrel flavors.

(Photo: Idan Goor)
The third and last new beer from Hatch is called Choppin' It Up, a Barrel-Aged Belgian Triple Ale, strong at 9.4% ABV.  It was aged in barrels from the Milk & Honey Distillery in Tel Aviv which previously held za'atar-flavored gin.  Whatever flavors came from the barrel, they only made things better.  There was a light sourness in there combined with a sweetness that Schmulz said came from the Belgian yeast.  Spice, lemon and wood rounded out the flavor profile.  This was one of the most enjoyable made-in-Israel Belgian Triple Ales I have ever had. 

The label was Idan Goor's photo of an outdoor wood chopping scene from Georgia (the country, not the state).  Outwardly, you don't get the connection of rural Georgia with a Belgian beer!  But the label helps you understand:  "The people living there have no connection with the state.  The build homes for themselves, grow vegetables for themselves.  They pay no taxes because they receive no services from the state.  This beer was made at the brewery, but at the moment it entered the barrel, it took care of itself, and in the course of months, absorbed the flavors of the wood."   

Hatch Brewmaster Shmuel Naky,
AKA Schmulz, struck a 
majestic pose at the event.

Choppin' It Up was paired with a sweet semi-main dish made with onion, potato, carrot and dried fruit, spiced with red wine, fennel, cardamon and cinnamon.  This I found to be less successful, since both the dish and the beer were quite sweet to begin with, and together really too much. 

For dessert, we had the first beer Schmulz has brewed under his own label  "Brewed by the Beard"  since he started working at Hatch.  As expected, it was over the top, or under the table  depending on your perspective.  Schmulz named it Baklava, after an ultra-sweet Middle Eastern (and Persian) pastry.  It's full title is: "Double Peanut-Layered, Pistachio-Laced, Cardamon-Spiced Imperial Persian Ale."  None of those flavors was missing.

This is a black and thick dessert beer, with aromas of chocolate, some coffee, cardamon and other spices.  The flavor is peanuts and chocolate, with salted pistachio in the background.  It has far more flavors than your typical baklava pastry.  

Baklava, "Brewed by the Beard," is among
the best "Double Peanut-Layered,
Pistachio-Laced, Cardamon-Spiced
Imperial Persian Ales"
I've ever had.

The beer went beautifully together with the non-dairy ice cream served with it.  Someone suggested that I put some ice cream into the beer, which was a mistake.  Keep them separate and you won't be sorry.

Thanks again to the Hatch crew for this evening and for the "Connect to Craft" idea.  I'm looking forward to more events like this one.   


February 7, 2023

Oak & Ash experimental IPAs ➯ Number 2: "Fruit Salad"

Oak & Ash experimental IPA Number 2,
"Fruit Salad": Juicy, tropical fruity,
bitter and delicious.

Beer Number 2 in the new four-pack of "experimental" IPAs from the Oak & Ash Brewery in Beit Shemesh is called "Fruit Salad."  Why?  Because it's brewed with additives of passion fruit, mango and pineapple.  

[You can refresh your memory about Beer Number 1 and the whole experimental IPA project by reading my earlier article here.] 

"Fruit Salad" definitely has the appearance of a New England IPA: Opaque and juicy looking, a little darker than the Florida orange juice I'm used to, with a minute head of foam.

The aromas all seem to be from the additives rather than the hops: Tropical fruits, mainly passion fruit and pineapple, with some malt in the background.

"Fruit Salad" has the taste of tropical fruits  passion fruit and mango for sure  wrapped in a bitter package.  Here, too, the flavors are from the added fruit, while the bitterness comes from the hops.  There's a strong herbal aftertaste and an alcoholic buzz even though the ABV is only 4.5%. 

The four "experimental" IPAs
from the Oak & Ash Brewery
can be ordered from the online store.

"Fruit Salad" is a little too bitter for the New England IPA style.  But put that aside and enjoy it for the tastes and the drinkability.  If Oak & Ash wants to call this beer an "experiment," I would call it successful.

One note: A few of my interlocutors have noted that you can still order the four experimental IPAs from the Oak & Ash online store (https://oaa.co.il/product/ipa-experiments/) and that the delivery time is very fast.  The four-pack now sells for 80 shekels, which includes free shipping.  

Another important thing to remember: Like all IPAs, these beers should be drunk as fresh as possible, before the hop aromas and flavors deteriorate.  So if you want to taste these beers as they should be, don't waste any time before ordering.     

February 5, 2023

Yeti Super Saison from BeerBazaar

The Yeti, the abominable snowman of
the Himalayas, has lived in man's
imagination for hundreds of years.

The BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat (with pubs and retail outlets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) has introduced a limited edition Saison beer named Yeti, the abominable snowman of the Himalayas.  They actually call it a "Super Saison," spiced with additives of orange peels, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.   

Whatever the recipe, it works.

But first, a quick review: Saison beers were traditionally brewed in the French-speaking regions of Belgium in the winter, for drinking in the spring and summer.  (Saison, as you might have guessed, means "season" in French.)  They are in the category of "farmhouse ales" because, well, that's where they were brewed.  The farmers generally used whatever ingredients they had at the time of brewing: Different grains as well as herbs and spices.  Therefore, different Saisons could smell and taste very differently.  Modern Saisons, however, tend to be fruity and dry, of moderate alcoholic strength, with low to medium hop aroma, and medium-high hop bitterness.  

Yeti is a "Super Saison" from
the BeerBazaar Brewery in
Kiryat Gat:
Flavored with additives of
orange peels, cinnamon, ginger,
nutmeg and allspice.

Yeti is "super" because the additives reinforce the traditional hop and yeast aromas and flavors.  

It pours out clear and golden orange.  The spicy aromas are prevalent -- with cinnamon and cloves (a yeast phenol) in the lead.  The taste is on the sweet side, with flavors of bread and rich malt, spice on the tongue, cinnamon and pepper.  My drinking partner Moshe and I weren't able to pick up any orange flavor, but he tasted some "melon."           

Yeti has a medium body, and you can feel rather than taste the alcoholic warmth.  (Alcohol by volume is a healthy 7.5%.)

Moshe pronounced that Yeti is a "great beer," and compared it to a "spiced holiday lager."  I said that the Saison quality comes shining through, and is even enhanced by the fruit and spice additives. 

Yeti was brewed in limited quantities, so it may not be currently available at the BeerBazaar outlets and online store.  But experience has shown that Brewmaster Lior Weiss may decide to bring it back sometime in the future.  Whether it's here and now, or there and then, I recommend you buy it and try it.