August 20, 2023

Malka Brewery opens Israel's first craft beer canning line

Israel's first craft beer in cans:
Malka Hoppy Wheat,
IPA, Blonde Ale and
Pale Ale.

(Photo montage by 
Bat Sheva Yanir)

You might not have noticed, but beer from the Malka Brewery has been available in cans for the past month or so.  Of course, why would you notice something as axiomatic as craft beer in cans?

But this is a big deal.  The Malka Brewery in the Tefen Industrial Park (way up north) has installed Israel's first craft beer canning line.  

The Israeli mega-brewing duopoly –Tempo Beer Industries in Netanya, and Israel Beer Breweries Ltd. (IBBL) in Ashkelon – have been selling their beers in cans and bottles for decades.  And I can think of two collaborative beers which were brewed and canned in a foreign brewery before being shipped to Israel and marketed: Desert Haze (brewed in Belgium by Mikkeller and Negev Brewery) and How's It Hanging? (brewed in Norway by Lervig and Schnitt).

But this is the first time our craft beers are being "canned in Israel."

Now I know people who don't drink beer out of cans, believing that it's somehow inferior to beer in bottles.  Bottles have a higher status than cans.  They also have more "heft" when you hold them in your hand.  

But cans are actually better for beer in a number of ways.  Here are some:

Two big enemies of beer are light and oxygen, and cans keep them both out better than bottles do.  The third enemy is heat, but in this regard, cans are no better than bottles.  However, aluminum cans cool down faster than glass bottles, allowing the beer inside to chill quicker when placed in the fridge.

Cans are easier to take with you.  They're lighter than glass bottles, they don't break and they're easier to store.

For those interested in ecological sustainability, aluminum is much more recyclable than glass, and its lighter weight requires less energy for transporting.  

And then there's the issue of Israeli beaches: Cans are allowed; bottles are not!

Malka CEO Gilad Dror told me that the cans give the brewery an opportunity to refresh the brand with more space for new colors and designs.  "We are also making a statement," he continued, "that Malka is a state of the art brewery with the most advanced machinery, and we will always strive to be at the top of technology and quality." 

One final reminder:  Even though you can now buy and keep Malka's four core beers in cans (Hoppy Wheat, IPA, Blonde Ale and Pale Ale), don't drink the beer directly from the can.  Always pour it into a glass first.  First, because the metal touching your lips will affect the taste of the beer.  But more important, the narrow opening of the can prevents you from enjoying the aroma of the beer, which everybody knows is an important part of the craft beer experience.

August 16, 2023

Belgian Tripel from the Sheeta Brewery

Belgian Tripel Ale from the
Sheeta Brewery in Arad:
Strong, malty, flavorful –
and gift wrapped! 

A new Belgian Tripel beer has been brewed and introduced by the Sheeta Brewery in Arad.  Instead of a label, it's gift wrapped with the name, Strong Beer in the Belgian Tripel Style, so I guess that's what it's called.

The Belgian Tripel style has not often been brewed in Israel, and then only as a seasonal offering.  In fact, the only Tripel that I know of which is a core beer is from the Emek Ha'ela Brewery in Srigim.  Jem's Beer Factory in Petach Tikva calls its 8.8 beer a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, but it's as close to a Tripel as you can get.   Well informed readers will correct me, please.     

What makes it a Tripel?  To answer that, a few words about Belgian beers are in order.  Four of them are named after multiplicative adverbs (single, double, triple, quadruple, etc.). They got these names when they were first being brewed by monks in the monastery, usually from the Trappist order. The Double beer simply was brewed with more malted grain than the Single (it didn't have to be exactly double), the Triple even more, and the Quadruple, wow!

The Single ale was usually drunk only by the monks themselves and was not marketed outside the walls of the monastery. Even today, Belgian Singles are rarely seen for sale, although they are probably similar to the Belgian Pale Ales we do know.

Neta and Jean Torgovitsky, owners and brewers
of the Sheeta Brewery in Arad (Northern Negev).

Double (or Dubbel) ales jump to dark color, with a malty sweetness and flavors of dark fruits and chocolate. Alcohol by volume can be 6.5 - 9%.

Triple (Tripel) ales jump back to a pale or golden color, with typical Belgian fruity esters and spice from the yeast. You guessed it: Banana and cloves. ABV reaches 7.5 - 10%.

Quadruples (Quadrupels) are back to very dark, strong and flavorful and malty, with flavors of dark fruit, molasses, brown sugar and more. ABV is 9 - 12%, and even higher.

Interwoven among these are other Belgian styles such as Pale Ale, Strong Pale Ale, Blonde Ale, Dark Ale and Strong Dark Ale – so you can begin to understand the very varied and wide world of Belgian beer. And we haven't even included the wheat beers (Witbier), the sours (Lambic, Geuze, Flanders Red and Oud Bruin), and the Farmhouse Ales and Saisons. 

The Belgian Tripel ale style is known for
its fruity and spicy aromas and flavors, 
mid bitterness and high alcohol. 
But let's get back to Sheeta's new Belgian Tripel. I enjoyed it with my fellow IBAV Tasters Oded and Bat Sheva.

It poured out a rich amber color, true to style. The aroma was based on what we would call Belgian malt and yeast: Some dark bread, pepper spice and, according to Oded and Bat Sheva, cherry! The taste was mild bitter, with a definite touch of banana, toffee and malt.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied with alcoholic warmth (ABV is 8%), and the aftertaste was dry and bitter with a touch of cherry.  Oded added that although the mouthfeel was alcoholic, it was "refined."

Final tally: Bravo to Sheeta brewers Jean and Neta Torgovitsky for giving us a fine example of a very famous and popular Belgian-style beer.  I suggest you get a bottle while they're still available.   

August 1, 2023

Israeli craft brewers embrace packaging: 4-, 5-, 8-, 9-, 12-packs

Craft brewers in Israel are giving more attention to marketing and packaging, I've noticed.  It's not uncommon to see Israeli crafts being sold in special die-cut cartons printed in full color.

A photographed a few which have come my way, though there are many more such examples now on the market.

From left: A four-pack from Oak & Ash; a five-pack from Alexander; an eight-pack from Alexander; a nine-pack from Six-Pack (Super Heroes); a 12-pack from Shevet.