The Beer Gatherer

Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular, following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die and other beer musings.

Love Portion #9


I sampled Magic Hat#9 – Fruity beer whose ingredients are not revealed – how come it’s legal anywhere? Rather strange labeling laws the US has – at an educational tasting session The Beer Greek delivered to the beer marketing and brewery teams at work. It pours clear golden,with  white head. Smell – Apricot icicle. Taste –  Apricot, a little sour in the mouth. Soft fizz, light body, long apricot aftertaste. Rather disappointing but the bottle may have been old.

Magic Hat #9 is Beer #377 I Must Try Before I Die


The other day we went for a drink in our neighbourhood bar – Chuffeland Street Bar. A small place with like 2 seats inside and plenty of tables on the sidewalk, where they serve Tuborg and Brasserie d’Achouffe’s beers on tap – 3 or 4 of them at any given time. Typical bar food, sports screen, lots of noise and a fun vibe from the owners and waitstaff that always makes me think that a beach bar that sells Corona suits them better than Belgium beer in the Old North quarter.

Anyway, I ordered La Chouffe, and I don’t think that this Belgian Strong Ale needs any introduction. This is one of the first beers I ever rated on Ratebeer, shortly before I started this blog, with 4.5 out of 5 – of, the days of innocence! These days I hardly ever rate anything over 3.5, even really awesome beers. La Chouffe is still a great beer though, but I definitely prefer Chouffe Houblon these days, although I rate it lower.

La Chouffe is Beer #376 I must Try Before I Die, and if you are in Tel Aviv, you are welcome to try it fresh from tap at Chouffeland.


Not So Quiet on the Eastern Front

svyturys_baltas niksicko-tamno union_temno karlovacko-pivo Birra_Tirana Utenos_Porter











Some (formerly) Eastern Block beers I tried and tasted – a few were traded, others were shared by good friends and some were bought here in Israel.

Birra Tirana from Albania is the first beer that appears in the country index. The woman who gave birth to the Dead Swedish Girl is a tour guide and provides us with plenty of pissy lagers and country ticks from her excursions. Birra Tirana is a European pale lager that smells like corn, wet paper and simple syrup and tastes sweet and papery – quite horrible, as you can guess.

A good trade with Marko, a Slovanian ratebeerian,  yielded a can of Karlovačko Pivo, second Croatian Beer in the book (first is Tomislav Pivo, which I blogged about exactly 2 years ago. Karlovačko Pivo smells of some hops, some butter and a little metal, tastes very oxidized and a little sweet. Light body, metallic finish. Not quite amazing, either.

Marko also sent me Union Temno Pivo and Nikšićko Tamno. The first is a great Dunkel from Slovenia. It pours Black with tan head, and has a little ash and slightly smoky aroma, with a smoked fish taste and just a little sweetness. Smooth, medium-bodied, faint, smoky finish. Very drinkable, smokey and surprisingly good. The second is a Schwartzbier from Montenegro. It smells of grain, very little roast and bread, tastes bitter, dusty and a little dry taste. Medium-going-light body and an unpleasing bitter finish. Not amazing, really.

And finally, two beers from Lithuania, that are available here in Israel, at some wine shops and supermarkets that cater to Russian consumers. Svyturys Baltas, a German-style wheat beer, pours cloudy blond with a frothy white head. It has peach and a little guava spicy aroma, and a taste that’s somewhat spicy, yeasty, bittersweet and a little tarty. Slightly light-bodied, a little too watery with some spices in the finish. There are better options for Hefe lovers here, but it’s not too bad.Utenos Porteris is Baltic Porter – a quite fine example of the style. Captain Tom shared it in the winter. It smells sweet and syrupy, like grade B maple syrup or maybe date honey. Sweetish maltiness and dried dark fruit greets the mouth. Medium-bodied, smooth-textured. Nice. A little too sweet but works just fine.

Birra Tirana, Karlovačko Pivo, Union Temno Pivo, Nikšićko Tamno, Svyturys Baltas and Utenos Porteris are Beers #370, #371, #372, #373, #374 and #375 I Must Try Before I Die. There are tons of Czech beers I need to write about, but they fall under the procrastination category.

Not the proper way to do things.


A medium-sized supermarket chain that specializes in premium/ deli products has recently began importing ales from Scotland. Those who’ve been following this blog  know that I’m a fan of Scottish beer. Those who know me in person may also know that I’m a fan of all things Scottish – from Irn-Bru to single malt, From Scatha to Stiff-Little Fingers, from Irvine Welsh to — to no one — despite many fall-outs we’ve had along the way, he is still one of my favourite writers. Anyway, with  an abundance of brands and types of beers to choose from, they went for 4 relatively shitty beers. Nothing disappointing because you learn not to expect much from purchase department personae, who look to fill a category gap with the least expenses and the best profit. It is disappointing to find out that one of these shitty beers is no other that Black Wolf 1488, or 1488 Whisky Beer, that’s also in the book. Well, it’s great that I could find it Israel and not go out of my way to look for a Book Beer, but it is disappointing that this is another lame beer that appears in the book. Marketing claim is a collaboration between Black Wolf Brewery and Tullibardine distillery resulted in “a unique beer with a light whisky aroma and clean fresh aftertaste”.

This is the beer I tasted: alcoholic aroma with candy and oxidation, rather sweet and alcoholic taste with surprising malty undertones and toffee that spreads in your mouth and lingers. Long finish, full body. Too sweet and heavy for me, and not a good use for whisky.

However, 1488 is Beer #369 I Must Try Before I Die and I didn’t really have to hunt for it, so that’s pretty cool.


Three Beers, One Tasting

In the early days of the blog, I used to review a bunch of beers shared in one tasting. It’s an easy way to get a hold on things, really. Whereas it’s no longer a habit, I still sometimes take close-up shots of bottles that were shared at a single tasting that are also listed in The Book. Here’s one of these shots. ludwig-spezial-haand

Two German beers that come in reusable bottles – see the scratch marks above the label. The first is König Ludwig Weissbier, aka Prinzregent Luitpold Weissbier Hell. That’s a German Wheat beer that troubles bought in one of his recent business trips to Germany. It pours cloudy blond with white head and has a juicy aroma of grapefruit, bubblegum, apple juice with some notes of punch-banana ice cream. It tastes mild – a little tarty with light bitterness. Juicy, medium-bodied, light carbonation and apple nectar finish. Pretty good, but can do with some more carbonation and body.

Troubles also shared Tegernseer Spezial, Helles beer, a rather mediocre beer from, well, Tegensee in Bavaria. Clear pale gold-green with white head,  light hoppy bitter aroma, some grass and some phenol. Light citric taste, a little bitter and a little sweet. Light body, medium carbonation, long, mildly bitter finish. Meh.

Last is HaandBryggeriet Ardenne Blond that I got in a trade with a ratebeer buddy. It’s a really cool saison that hails from Norway. My bottle had weird floaties that swam in hazy blondliquid covered by white head. Sweet floral aroma with some white summer fruit graced my nostrils and a tarty taste, a little plastic-y, with some citrus that definitely didn’t feel hop-derived met my mouth. Smooth, medium-bodied with mild carbonation and long, bitter and tarty finish beer that’s both tasty and refreshing.


König Ludwig Weissbier, Tegernseer Spezialare and HaandBryggeriet Ardenne Blond are beers #366, #367 and #368 I Must Try Before I Die.

Some Random Ticks

With 90+ beers to catch up and not enough energy for detailed entries about beer trips and such, jotting down about random beers is a good way to tackle the problem. So…

ayinger-ur-weisseAyinger Ur-Weisse – a bottle bought in New York by my Excellent Little Brother. I like this Bavarian brewery very much. Their Doppelbock, Ayinger Celebrator, is one of the first beers I reviewed here, almost 3 years ago. It was beer #26 – time really does fly. Ayinger Ur-Weisse is a dunkelweizen, dark wheat beer, and a very pleasing one! It pours cloudy dark amber-to-light-brown with a frothy white head, has an aromatic honeydew scent with caramel-toffee, a little clove and ripe banana. How does it taste? Like a very ripe cantaloupe, sweet, but not burdening on the tongue. Full-bodied, very carbonated, a little spicy ending – all this with only 4 ingredients, Reinheitsgebot in its best.

firestone_walker_DBAFirestone Walker is another brewery that’s not new to this blog. Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA was reviewed here in November 2012, and now it’s turn for Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale or DBA. It’s a hazy bronze-brown ESB with 5%abv. Some nuts, some caramel, a little earth in the nose, Earthy taste that’s mildly bitter,  full-bodied and fairly carbonated with a long, nutty finish. Quite nice.

Firestone walker has another beer listed in the Book – Anniversary Ale. It was retired but I’m the lookout for it. If anyone’s got a clue or a bottle to share/ spare/ trade, please drop me a note.

kodiak brown aleAnother beer my Excellent Little Brother got for me is Kodiak Brown Ale from Midnight Sun brewery in Alaska. It’s a decent beer that pours murky brown with a cute yellowish head. It smells a little dry with notes of nutmeg, prune and figs and some other nuts too,  and tastes sweetish – more malty than bitter. Medium-to-full-bodied, fairly carbonated, with some more nuts in the aftertaste.



schumacherLast one for today is Schumacher Alt, an Altbier that The Dead Swedish Girl shared at a tasting. I’ll cover the other altbiers that crossed my path in the past year some other time, but this, by far, is one of the better ones, if not the best to date. Clear bronze-brown with a quick dissolving white head. Full, grainy aroma. Fresh, bitter taste, very grainy with apparent hops. Light-bodied, carbonated, long-grainy aftertaste. Really good.



Ayinger Ur-Weisse, Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Midnight Sun Kodiak Brown Ale and Schumacher Alt are beers #362, #363, #364 and #365 I Must Try Before I Die.

Telegram Sam

North Yorkshire Brewery Samuel Smiths has 5 beers in The Book and I drank them all. Already blogged about Taddy Porter and Nut Brown Ale, and now I’m closing the gap with the other three. Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Pale Ale is an organic ESB with 5%abv. that I shared with friends last September, before our big Real Ale Trail that one day I’ll find the time to write about here. Murky amber, white film. Ripe fruit and cooked pear and plum and then some spices in the nose, oxidized taste – fruity and old and sweet. Medium-bodied, long fruity finish and carbonated.

Next, Samuel Smiths Yorkshire Stingo, an English Strong Ale with 8 or 9% abv. (our bottle was 8%). We bought our bottle in an awesome craft beer shop in Manchester called The Beermoth – highly recommended if you visit this great beer city. Beer pours clear dark brownish gold with white film, has an alcoholic, apple aroma, with a sweet, cherry thingy in it. Bitter, alcoholic taste, medium body, slightly carbonated. Not too bad.

And last, the crown jewel, Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout, a robust brew with only 7% abv. – not a lot with a style that’s been raising the bar all the time. Not sure for how long we kept our bottle in the fridge, but it was a few good months between receiving it and sharing. Black with tan head. A little roast, slightly vinous aroma. Slightly bitter and faintly sour in the mouth. Full-bodied, nice roasty finish.


Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Pale Ale, Samuel Smiths Yorkshire Stingo and Samuel Smiths Imperial Stout are beers #359, #360 and #361 I Must Try Before I Die.

commonwealth brews.


At a tasting we had last month REL shared an Australian beer that appears in The Book. It was really exciting, because beers from Australia and New Zealand hardly ever cross my path. Too remote, too local. If anyone from these areas are into trading, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you – I can offer you crafty goodness from The Holy Land, and if country ticking is your thing, I can also get you pale lager from Jordan and Ethiopia.

Anyway, not sure whether the bottle of Mountain Goat Hightail Ale that’s originated in Richmond, Victoria, was brought all the way from the Land of Oz or from East Coast US. For us, it’s one of the little miracles that always happen within REL’s network of beer buddies. Anyway, this beer pours clear dark amber-brown with white ring. It has a nice grainy and toasted aroma – something I always enjoy in a beer, and tastes a little sweet and malty. It is light-bodied, has soft carbonation, and a long, bitter finish.

I shared a bottle of Dieu du Ciel Route des Epices, which is a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns. Rye’s one of my favourite grains and I’m always up to spiciness – in this beer it is derived both from the grain and the spice. Clear-to-hazy brown with a quickly dissolving white head, it has black pepper and rye aroma, with a little barley malt and bread. Dry bitterness with black pepper dominance in the mouth and presence of rye. Medium-bodied, smooth carbonation, peppery finish – hot aftertaste. Pretty awesome.

We also tasted another version of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout – Brand Coffee Stout 2013 – but I have already ticked Bourbon County Stout off my list. Not that I have any objections to try all the editions, because it is such a great beer, only that I don’t bother writing about it.

Mountain Goat Hightail Ale and Dieu du Ciel Route des Epices are Beers #357 and #358 I Must Try Before I Die.

Wash Away Your Sins

rejewvinatorThe Metalhead Cousin spent Yom Kippur eve with us this year. We sampled rum and single malts and opened our bottle of He’Brew Rejewvenator, 2014 edition, brewed with Merlot and Concord grapes, from California and New York respectively, in order to celebrate the shift from The Secret Agent’s brother’s home state to my Excellent Little Brother’s home state. ELB is the one who got me the bottle, in one of his visits. Pours pretty – dark brown with a yellowish head, smells of dark fruit, a little cotton candy and a little grape juice rather than wine – for me it’s more Jewish this way, sipping on that kiddy-wine shit when I was a little, before I became all heathen – and tastes sweet, like honey, with roasty notes. For an 8% abv. Rejewvinator has a rather light body and a sweetish, fruity and a little sugary finish. All in all not too bad. The Metalhead cousin liked it too.

He’Brew Rejewvenator is Beer #356 I Must Try Before I Die.

Cute and Chubby


Full Sail’s Session Lager comes in the sweetest bottle ever. It’s short and chubby and one of the few bottles I kept after drinking. I usually just peel off the labels and if I’m not up to it I’ll leave the bottles to the collectors in the group, or recently, take interesting ones to work, for our packaging purchase guy who in turn sometimes treats me to novelty caps. Here’s the plus side of working in a big brewery, well, one of them.

Anyway, bottle content was shared in May, but expired in  February, so aroma and flavour were a bit off. Clear greenish gold and headless. Very grainy and a little bready aroma. Bitter and grainy taste. Light body, grainy finish.

Full Sail Session Lager is Beer #355 I Must Try Before I Die.

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