May 21, 2023

Oak & Ash Experimental Dark & Heavy ➯ No. 1: "Bock Me All Night Long"

"Bock Me All Night Long": 
A barrel-aged Doppelbock beer from the
Oak & Ash Brewery in Beit Shemesh.

Following their four-beer set of Experimental IPAs, the Oak & Ash Brewery in Beit Shemesh has brought out four Experimental Dark & Heavy beers.  The first is a Doppelbock beer aged in ex-Islay whisky barrels, amusingly named Bock Me All Night Long.  Alcohol by volume is a hearty 10.5%.

Doppelbock (which simply means "double bock" in German) is a stronger version of the popular Bock lager beer.  Light sweetness from the malted barley is what characterizes this style, along with full and rich flavors.  The German monks who first brewed this beer called it a "liquid bread," and drank it during periods of fasting from solid food.

Bock Me is a lovely dark burgundy-brown color with a light tan head.  The aromas are also lovely: Rich malt, caramel, spice and behind it all, oak wood from the whisky barrels.  The taste is indeed sweet, enveloping flavors of caramel, dried fruit (raisins), butterscotch, cinnamon, and more oak.  There is also a mild smoky taste from the peated whisky that formerly occupied the barrel.  The aftertaste is flavorful and, even more fortunately, long-lasting.

Bock Me is a wonderful example of the Doppelbock style.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  

Stay tuned for my tasting notes on the other Experimental Dark & Heavy beers.     

The four-pack of Experimental Dark & Heavy beers is available for purchase on the Oak & Ash online store for 80 shekels.                        

May 18, 2023

Kabir Hoppy Lager from Six-Pack Brewing and BeerBazaar

The 2023 version of Kabir commemorates 
Israel's 75th anniversary of independence:
A collaboration between Six-Pack Brewing and
BeerBazaar Brewery. 

This is the third year in a row that Six-Pack Brewing (also known as Super Hero Beer) has brought out a new version of Kabir to commemorate Israel Independence Day.  It was brewed at and in collaboration with the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat. 

Kabir, which means "great" in Hebrew, was the name of a brewery established during the Mandate in 1942, and each year the label is dedicated to a different army unit which fought in the War of Independence.  This year, for Israel's 75th anniversary, it's Samson's Foxes, the legendary mechanized patrol of the Givati Brigade that operated in the Negev and the southern front.  

Samson's Foxes was a mechanized patrol
that fought in Israel's War of Independence:
Commemorated on the label of this year's Kabir beer. 
The label includes a photograph of one of the unit's jeeps and a few words of the Samson's Foxes hymn written by Uri Avnery.  The breweries donated ten cases of Kabir to the Independence Day party held at the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of  Michael Levin in Jerusalem.            

History aside, the Kabir for 2023 is a Hoppy Lager, a light style of beer, but hopped with several varieties to give it more aroma and flavor.  ABV is 4.8%.

Kabir is a clear, golden color with a long-lasting head.  It gives off lemon and herbal aromas.  The taste is mildly sweet, with lemon in the forefront, though it's not sour.  There is also some bread in the flavor, and a long bitter and lemony finish.  Crisp and refreshing, a good summertime beer.       

May 17, 2023

Shanty Bounty ➯ A Coconut Porter from Herzl

Shanty Bounty from Herzl Brewery:
A Porter beer with roasted coconut.

Shanty Bounty from the Herzl Brewery (in the Tefen Industrial Park) is a Porter-style beer, known for its dark color, roasty taste and full body.  The name comes from 18th century London, where it was a favorite of the hard-working porters.

It's the same base beer as an earlier Porter from Herzl, known as Embargo because it contained tobacco leaves from Cuba!  

[Read about the original Embargo here.]  

Shanty Bounty is tobacco-free, but is brewed with roasted coconut and oatmeal.  In fact, the name Bounty comes from the popular chocolate-coated coconut candy bar sold in Israel.  (In the U.S., it's called Mounds.)  ABV is 6%.  

Being a generous soul, I shared a bottle with fellow IBAV Tasters Oded, Bat Sheva and Manny.

The original chocolate-covered coconut candy bar:
The namesake of Shanty Bounty 
Coconut Porter beer from Herzl Brewery. 

The color of the beer is very dark, as befits a porter, and the aroma is unmistakably roasted coconut, with some background caramel and malt.  For Bat Sheva, it was the "aroma of summer," since she was reminded of the coconut-smelling suntan lotion that is so prevalent on Israeli beaches.           

It tastes very sweet, giving center stage to coconut and vanilla.  Oded opined that it was too sweet for his taste, but was a "good idea."  Manny too, called it "a tasty beer, but not for me."

I am also not a fan of sweet beers, but I love coconut.  If you like both, have I got a beer for you!

Oatmeal IPA from Malka Brewery

The Malka Brewery in the Tefen Industrial Park has introduced a new India Pale Ale called Oatmeal IPA.  Why oatmeal?  Well, adding oatmeal to a beer's brewing process has traditionally been used to impart a smooth and silky texture, in addition to a hazy look.  The brewers say they also added huge amounts of bittering and aromatics hops: First Columbus and Citra in the boil, and then dry-hopped twice with Idaho Gem and Galaxy.  ABV is 6%. 

Oatmeal IPA is indeed very cloudy, reminding me of unfiltered apple juice!  You get aromas of pine, citrus, guava and other tropical fruits.  It's mildly bitter, with all of these fruit flavors in there, including an aftertaste of grapefruit.  The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, so the oatmeal did its job.  Style experts would call this beer a New England IPA.  It is very drinkable and delicious. 

May 14, 2023

Mangolicious from the Negev Brewery ➯ mango and hot pepper

From the Negev Brewery in the Tefen Industrial Park (sharing facilities with Malka and Herzl) comes Mangolicious, a sweet beer with a hot kick.  It's made with mango puree and scorpion pepper extract, one of the hottest peppers in the world.  Alcohol by volume is a modest 4.5%.

Mangolicious was introduced on tap at the Tel Aviv Craft Beerfest, but only later were bottles put on sale.  After I got some, I met with fellow IBAV Tasters Oded, Bat Sheva and Manny to try it and bring you this report. 

It pours out a semi-hazy yellow color.  The aroma is mango – strong, fresh and sweet  but little else.  Manny especially appreciated the smell, which he compared to an outdoor orchard.         

The first sip brings a more balanced fruit taste – and then the pepper hits your throat like a jolt of tabasco.  Bat Sheva thought that the mango taste was less sweet than the aroma – "an improvement."  We all liked the playful about-face from the semi-sweet fruit to the burning pepper, although Manny felt that a higher alcoholic volume would have improved the beer.      

Oded pointed out that Mangolicious promises mango and hot pepper, and that's what it delivers.  "It's a tasteful beer, but it needs something more," was his final pronouncement.   

May 9, 2023

Peachy Sour from the Shapiro Brewery

Dani Shapiro, Assistant CEO of the
Shapiro Brewery in Beit Shemesh,
holds bottles of the 2023 Strong Sour
and the Peachy Sour,
at the Tel Aviv Craft Beerfest.

The Shapiro Brewery in Beit Shemesh introduced Israel's first commercial sour (or "spontaneously fermented") beer in 2019.  It's called Strong Sour and the brewery has been bringing out annual versions of it ever since.  [You can refresh your knowledge of Strong Sour here and here.) 

This year, along with the fifth Strong Sour, Shapiro introduced their Peachy Sour at the Tel Aviv Craft Beerfest in late March.  

Assistant CEO Dani Shapiro told me it's their Strong Sour beer with some 150 kilograms (330 pounds) of peaches added after the initial fermentation.  It was then matured in oak barrels for 14 months.  Alcohol by volume is a strong 7.1%.  

It's sold in bottles of 750 milliliters, and you can purchase it at Shapiro's online store for 89 shekels.  Only 1,800 bottles were produced.  

Dani Shapiro also said that Peachy Sour is very suitable for aging, which will introduce a wide range of new and diverse flavors.  The label gives the "Best by" date as January 2028!                   

I didn't want to wait that long, so I brought home a bottle from the Craft Beerfest and invited over IBAV Tasters Oded and Bat Sheva to join me in drinking this special brew. 

I would describe the color as golden yellow; it looks like a white wine.  The aroma is sour, with some fruit and alcohol in the background.  Oded also smelled honey.  It's only in the flavor that you get the real peaches, very much so.  Oded called it "flowery" as well, while I noticed the taste of wood, light vinegar and lactic sourness.  "It's the flavor of a tart peach," said Oded.  Bat Sheva felt the actual fruit in the beer.  

Compared to other sour beers, Peachy Sour is quite moderate.  It may pucker your face a little bit, but if you're new to sour beers, it's a good choice to make the introduction.  And I can see where aging would make it even more enjoyable.