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.

2 in Copenhagen

Last week I wrote a long recap of Californian beers imbibed over the past 3 years. One of them was Moylans Ryan Sullivans that we found and drank in Copenhagen, on my birthday-trip-turned-beer-pilgrimage sort of thing. 5 cold winter days, many many beers in all the hot spots in this compact city – Mikkeller, Mikkeller & Friends, Lord Nelson, Fermentoren, Søernes Ølbar, Høkeren, Nørrebro Bryghus, Taphouse to mention a few. We had a good listing of cocktail bars too, but after all this beer we only ended up having a couple at the Brass Monkey and then at Mikkeller’s mixology venture, Mikropolis. Will definitely visit the Ruby next time.

I have the first edition of The Book, from 2008, published right around the time of the great Danish craft beer boom.Only 12 Danish beers are there, two of them are Carlsberg’s crafty experiment Jacobsen. I believe that the second edition has a better and longer listing of Danish beer. Anyway, since Copenhagen is Mecca and friends travel there often, I had tried most of the Danish beers that are in The Book, and had only 3 left to try. Jacobsen Sommer Wit is no longer in production – if anyone who’s reading this has an old bottle to spare, I’ll be happy to trade. I’ll also happily trade for Søgaard Julebuk that’s as far as I know is still in production, but is seasonal, and we were in Denmark 2 weeks too late. However, we got to drink Amager IPA – fresh bottle at the brewery, thanks to the lovely  Henrik Papsø, head of communication at Amager Bryghus, an avid ratebeerian and a really nice guy, who gave us a tour at the premises, on a dark and stormy evening.

Amager IPA

This is an old school Amager beer. Still in the making, still good. Dark amber with yellowish head. Fruity hoppiness and a little sweet roll aroma, bitter, dry, some sweet maltiness in the mouth. Some minerals towards the end, medium body, mild bitter finish. but the brewery – a Danish brewery that owns and operates stainless steel tanks all by itself – is heavily into experimenting and collaborating and running small batches. They are worth checking out.

On our first or second night in Copenhagen we met fellow ratebeerian Desverger and his partner Dorthe at the Mikkeller bar, for tasting and trading. Desverger ordered a glass of  N’Ice Chouffe from draught, 2010 vintage. I was really surprised to find out that I’ve never rated this beer! Not only is it available in Israel, but there’s a Chouffe bar right in our neighbourhood, like a two minute walk from our flat! We were offered a taste of this wintery Nectar, that was pretty awesome: very dark red with a deep,  a little vinous aroma with notes of  ripe summer fruit like plum and date. Deep alcoholic taste, cherry and vinous. Full body, almost flat, rich, spicy, nutmeg finish. Quite amazing.

Just a random pic from Mikkeller Bar

Just a random pic from Mikkeller Bar

Had to try this limited edition of Four Roses Small Batch that was sitting on the shelf at the Mikkeller Bar.

Had to try this limited edition of Four Roses Small Batch that was sitting on the shelf at the Mikkeller Bar.

Amager IPA and N’Ice Chouffe are beers #460 and #461 I Must Try Before I Die. 540 more to go and thanks again Teva Boy, for doing the math!

6-months planning

A very intense week came to a sweet end with booking our plane tickets to the US. We’re only taking off in April, but the itinerary is pretty much set: Beer, cocktails and niece in Southern California, cocktails, beer and nephew in New York, deep south, cocktails, beer and bourbon in between. Early booking means low airfare and six months to dream and plan. Next thing I did after closing the Expedia tab was to google map Port Brewing (10 minutes from Escondido and the niece), and the Bruery (tap room is open til late – we can drop by on our way from the airport, if we’re not too knackered.) Both brew Book Beers, of course, only Orchard White by the latter is now retired. Another reason to live forever, or better, drop this mission. Or maybe, check out the second edition of this stupid publication.

Booking is a good excuse to recap Californian beers I drank and haven’t blogged about yet. Like Lost Abbey 10 Commandments, that’s brewed in the above-mentioned Port Brewing. I had it in late December 2013 (and I’m afraid that’s not the worst backlog in this blog), from friends who brought it back from a beer festival in Italy, if I’m not mistaken. 10% abv. of Belgian Strong Ale. My sample of this 2012 vintage bottle poured murky brown and had a dark tan head. I smelled raisins, hyssop and turmeric,and after a while – a little alcohol. It tasted very fruity, dark and heavy, with a little alcohol in the mouth too. Full-bodied, Belgian-like, deep, spicy finish. Very complex, heavy and difficult to drink.


Another old one is Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale that we shared at a tasting at The Dancing Camel pub in Florentine, Tel Aviv, in December 2013. Wintery IPA with 6.8% abv. Last time I checked the empty bottle was still adorning the bathroom over there. Clear amber. Slightly spicy, christmas cake aroma, bitter, hoppy, fruity taste, medium-bodied, a little burnt finish. Nice. – these are my tasting notes for this beer.

REL, Dead Swedish Girl and The Actuary, that brought the 10 Commandments, also shared FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout – from FiftyFifty Brewing. Looking at the date it was sampled, they must have brought it back from Copenhagen Beer Celebration. Eclipse is an imperial stout that aged for ~7 months in oak barrels and  released once a year, in December. Our purple wax-sealed sample was aged in Elijah Craig barrels and was pretty awesome: black with tan head. A little vinous, wood, vanilla. Deep sweet taste and a little spicy. Smooth, syrupy, no carbonation, a little alcoholic aftertaste.


Next, Green Flash Le Freak – 9.2% Belgian Strong Ale from San Diego. I loved this one. Hazy gold-amber with white head. Fresh, hoppy aroma, grapefruit and pine. Grassy, skunky green taste. Medium body, relatively carbonated, hoppy and floral finish.

Another Californian Imperial Stout is Moylans Ryan Sullivans. we bought the bottle in Høkeren, a cute bottle shop in Copenhagen, in January, because there is no better way to celebrate one’s birthday in a cold and windy city filled with beautiful people. We shared the bottle at Mikkeller & Friends with our ratebeer/untapped buddies Ruben and Dorthe. Black, with a big tan head. Dark chocolate and espresso aroma, rich bitterness, coffee and a hint of sourness in the mouth, full body, very bitter finish, no carbonation. Nothing experimental here, just a nice and solid imperial stout.


It was Teva Boy who shared The Bruery Saison Rue in early 2014. Quite awesome and heavy on alcohol saison – 8.5% here. Cloudy amber with white head. Bretty, fruity, apple, some toffee and pepper aroma, mildly sour but very drinkable – a little alcoholic too. Full body, slightly alcoholic finish. Very good.


I believe I had Russian River Supplication sour ale on more than one occasion, but my tasting notes are from a tasting at Teva Boy, of a bottle shared by Sparrow Brewery’s owner and brewmaster Dror, from February 2013(!) Pours clear-to-hazy rusty with white ring. Apple vinegar, air freshener, rose-water aroma, delicate sour taste. Medium body, very fizzy, ciderish finish. I gave it 3.3/5 – that’s around my average rating. I wonder how much I’d give it today.

This ends the Californian backlog. Lots more to drink from The Golden State – the ones from the book that are still available and hundreds more. We have only 5 or 6 days in SoCal before heading to Austin – we’re gonna work hard.

Lost Abbey 10 Commandments, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout, Green Flash Le Freak,  Moylans Ryan Sullivans, The Bruery Saison Rue, Russian River Supplication, are beers #453, #454, #455, #456, #457, #458, and #459 I must Try Before I Die (and thank you Teva Boy!)

August Recap

Been quiet over the past couple of months. That’s because I’ve been posting more in my Hebrew blog and at the Sanedrink website (Hebrew alert: bar reviews and interviews with local brewers, as long as an MA thesis.) Actually, I’ve been lazying around for the better part of August, gathering energy for the new and exciting phase in my career, that is joining The Milk & Honey Distillery team – the first craft distillery in Israel.
I knew that joining the team was the right thing to do on my first day. I opened the fridge, wanted to see if they got soy milk by any chance – dunno why I did, cos no one else is vegan there – only to find out that the only thing in the fridge are a couple of dozen bottles of beers that Tomer, our head distiller, brewed for us to drink. Fun!

Then came September, with holidays that never ended, followed by the world’s most annoying exam that took place yesterday – keep your fingers crossed for me, so I won’t have to repeat that tedious Corporate Law course.

As usual, I continue my trip down the 1001 list, dedicated this entry to the month of August, which was quite fruitful, beer-wise. Teva Boy’s rare appearance at a tasting brought a bunch of bottles he brought from Italy, two of which were lagers: Ducato VIÆMILIA is a kellerbier, with a clear-to-hazy blond colour and a white head. Sweet and a little malty aroma, malt and grain and a little vegetal taste. Light-to-medium body, malty, grainy and warm finish. Lambrate Montestella is a lager from Milan, hazy blond with a thick white head. Grainy and toasty aroma, bitter, toasty, some minerals in the mouth. Medium body, slightly bitter finish, quite carbonated. Nice.


Next is 32 Via dei Birrai Oppale, an Italian Belgian ale that comes in a pretty bottle, and is surprisingly light and refreshing. Hazy-cloudy blond with a white head. Fruity, pear and peach aroma. Sweet, fruity, cantaloupe taste. Soft bitterness, soft carbonation, fruity finish. Brùton Stoner is Belgian Strong Ale with 7.5% abv. Hoppy, tropical, pineapple and mango aroma, sweet taste, a little oxidized, honey and fruit. Full, syrupy, mildly carbonated, somewhat bitter finish.

rokporterAt the same tasting we shared a bottle of Nils Oscar Rökporter, a smoked porter I got from a Summer Secret Santa Swap on Ratebeer. Very dark brown-black with a tan head. Smoky, sausage, chocolate and smoked keifli snack aroma, smoky, a little bitter, and roasty taste, followed by onion. Full body, long, roasty and smoky finish. Smoked is my favourite style, if you can call it a style, as smoky notes can be found in plenty of beer styles, and Rokporter is in my top 10 smoked beers, according to my stats.

A week later, at Max’s place, we shared a can I got in another trade, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils. This Pennsylvanian pilsener  must’ve been decent when it was fresh, but sadly my can wasn’t. Clear pale gold with a white head. Old grain and yellow grass aroma, old bitterness and some hay in the mouth. Light body, bitter and a little hay finish. Stas brought a bottle of Forstner Styrian Ale from his visit to Vienna, just two weeks or so before I got there – thanks for the bottle and for all the tips! Brown ale, 6.2% abv. that are a wee bit heavy for Tel Aviv’s August. Murky dark brown with a frothy beige head. Nutty aroma with a little caramel. Nutty and a little bitter taste. Medium body, fizzy,  bitter and nutty finish. Would’ve liked it more in October, for sure, but it was quite alright still.


Later in August, Tomer from Ratebeer hosted a tasting for his 50th birthday. Plenty of people, so we shared two big bottles: Jämtlands Heaven, that for a schwartzbier was quite heavenly, courtesy of the above-mentioned Secret Santa Swap. also from Sweden, it pours very dark brown, and topped with a beige film. Malty and a little dry toast notes in the nose lead to  dry, bitter, toasty and a little rye spiciness in the mouth. Medium body, fine fizz, dry, malty bitter finish. We also shared in that tasting a bottle of Montegioco Demon Hunter, an Italian Belgian Strong Ale that my Excellent Little Brother bought in New York when I was in Paris last year. It comes wrapped in a crepe’ paper, all fancy and stuff, but I really don’t understand why it’s in The Book, as there’s nothing remarkable or unusual here. Murky honey-brown with white film. Honeydew, yeast, a little spicy, perfume-like aroma, sweet and yeasty taste with some honey. Medium-to-full body, some plastic and soft fizz.

Ducato VIÆMILIA, Lambrate Montestella, 32 Via dei Birrai Oppale,  Brùton Stoner, Nils Oscar Rökporter, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Forstner Styrian Ale,  Jämtlands Heaven, Montegioco Demon Hunter are beers #444, #445, #446, #447, #448, #449, #450, #451, #452 I Must Try Before I Die. That’s 9 Book beers in the month of August. Not bad!

4 in 1


The night before I flew to my Austro-Hungarian holiday, we’ve been to a tasting at the training room in my old workplace. There were 4 Book Beers in this tasting, a rare thing these days because it’s harder to get a hold on the remaining several hundreds, and moreover, people are more thrilled looking for new and fancy beers than the ones in the book. Cannot blame them really. However, The Beer Greek was kind enough to buy a bottle of Timmermans Framboise Lambic, that everybody, including him, and probably including me, has already drank, as it was distributed in Israel in the past. It’s a lambic with some additives, that pours clear-to-hazy reddish-brown and smells  sugary and of raspberry syrup. Tastes sourish, lots of fruity sweetness. Light body, soft fizz, long sweet finish. Tastes like children’s syrup.

Sailor Tom, who’s been spending most of his time in Ireland now, and always brings cool stuff, shared a bottle of Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale and by that I finished all Irish beers from The Book. Yay! Not only that, but about a month early, Sailor Tom brought Northern Ireland’s representative – Clotworthy Dobbin. Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is actually an APA, but the bottle was probably a wee bit old, and the main motif of my tasting notes was “old hops”. Not too bitter, on the fruity side of things. Clotworthy Dobbin, by Whitewater brewery, was a pretty decent porter. No novelty, no gimmicks, but tasty and balanced. Sweet and nutty aroma, with a little chocolate as well. Nutty taste, slightly bitter and toasty, then sweet. Lightish body, chocolate and nutty finish.

More from the British Isles, a bottle of Exmoor Gold, a golden ale from Somerset, regionally distributed, got it from a trade. Clear golden with a white head. Paper and a little moldy aroma, sweet and old taste. Light body, stale and sweet finish. Not too amazing.

I also shared a bottle of Smuttynose’s Doppelbock, S’muttonator, that my brother got for me in California, I think. Hazy brown with a beige head. Old grapes and dark fruit aroma, sweet, dark fruit taste. Full body, very fizzy and boozy finish.

When we finished the tasting we visited the new brewery. I worked there for almost 2 years and was always too busy or stressed out to go any further from the soft drink bottling line, that was a shortcut to the canteen. So I took a picture:


Timmermans Framboise Lambic, Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, Clotworthy Dobbin,Exmoor Gold and Smuttynose S’muttonator, are beers #439, #440, #441, #442 and #443 I Must Try Before I Die.

Greetings from the Bygone Empire

trumer hadmar

Has it really been a month since the last time I wrote? An intense month it was, I guess. Some university stuff, the jobseeking, plenty of errands and a spontaneous trip to Austria and Hungary! while I ended up drinking plenty of beer, mainly due to bottlesharing and samples, I used my time in Central Europe to walking and relaxing. Some cemetery visits, strolling by the Danube and visiting Zentralfriedhof, Vienna’s largest cemetery. I believe that the best way to get familiar with a place is to visit its drinking joints and cemeteries. Both Hungary and Austria are experiencing a craft beer revolution, with the emergence of breweries, specialty shops, brewpubs and craft beer pubs. First published in 2008, The 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die book which I’ve been following ever since starting this blog, has either overlooked the local scenes. They may have been too small to notice at that time, as far as I know. There was one Hungarian beer in the book, Dreher Bak that we drank in 2012, and 12 Austrian beers. We’ve already covered Urbock 23, Stiegl Goldbrau and only recently – Samichlaus which stands out, as most of the Austrian beers in the book are generic lagers, sort of. Yet, finding them was hard. Some are seasonal, other local. Out of the 9 remaining beers, I only got a hold on two.

I found Trumer Pils at the first bar I visited. The Krah Krah is a noisy, smoky (like everywhere in Vienna) old-school bar, not far from the Canal. At 16:45 in the afternoon it was full of men who were socializing after work. There are a bunch of taps of  mostly Austrian beers, and some bottles, with Leffe being pretty much the more exotic option. Trumer is served in a flute-like glass, thin and quite elegant. It pours clear gold with a big white head and has fine aroma of grass and grain. It tastes bitter and slightly buttery, but not in a way that really fucks up with the beer. Light-bodied and quaffable, perfect for that hot summer afternoon, in this unair-conditioned venue.

My friends and hosts Anna and Roey, had a bottle of Hadmar, an organic pale lager, and shared it with me. Clear and fizzy gold with a white head, cereal and grain aroma, light bitterness and malty with some grass. Medium body, with a mouthful bitterness and malt. It tasted great but I cannot help but wonder how a different ambiance would’ve affected my impression – colder weather, different people…

Trumer Pils and Hadmaer are beers #437 and #438 I Must Try Before I Die. Budapest and Vienna are great cities to visit: beer is good, people are friendly, prices are between reasonable to dirt cheap and food is awesome and surprisingly vegan-friendly. Head to for beer and for food. As for the rest of the Austrian beers on the book – I guess I’ll have to visit there again. Next time with The Secret Agent.

Brotherly Love

Procrastination time. Instead of studying for next week’s exam, practicing before today’s bass lesson doing laundry or simply drinking beer, I’m blogging. I get to drink many of the beers that are featured in this blog thanks to my Excellent Little Brother. 3 or 4 years ago he did the right thing and got the hell out of Israel. He moved to New York, got a job that gets him to places – especially in my beloved fly-over states – and also travels a lot outside the city. He makes the most out of his time there. Home and away, he goes to liquor stores, finds stuff from my list and sometimes digs treasures on his own, and when he comes to visit, he packs the goods and delivers.

Over the years he learned to enjoy beer. Though not his main hobby or obsession, he’s been to brewpubs in town and away, and sampled anything from imperial stout to mead to sour ales – go him!

He brought Canadian beer when he went to tap maple one weekend in Ontario, and usually and naturally, he usually brings American beer. But living in NY, he’s got an access to almost everything that’s exported, so occasionally, there’s some non-American stuff around, like Hövels Original, Altbier from Dortmund, that was sadly after its best before date when it finally reached me. Cannot blame him, though! Despite the age, it wasn’t too bad. Clear brown with white head. Malty aroma with some instant coffee with milk and a little wood. Tastes slightly bitter, malty, and a little burnt caramel. Medium body, fairly carbonated and a little burnt aftertaste.

Excellent Little Brother also brought Hofbräu München Maibock. Brewed by the famous Hofbräuhaus in Munich, bought in Manhattan and drank in Tel Aviv, this Heller Bock pours clear and reddish with cream colour foam. Very malty, seedy aroma, bitter, slightly sweet and warm malty taste, then more bitterness. Medium-bodied, long, bitter, grainy finish. I love big malty beers, and this certainly was one.

Funny enough, he found me the bottle of French Biere de Garde CH’TI Ambrée when I was in Paris last September. We were emailing back and forth, me from my hotel room, he from Wholefoods. Clear dark amber with beige head. Sweet, honey aroma. Sweet honey mead-like taste. Medium body, sweet finish. Probably spoiled, but I kinda liked it anyway.

Our drinking bodies always say that I tend to like the beer my brother brings me a little more than they deserve. I can’t deny that.

Hövels Original, Hofbräu München Maibock and CH’TI Ambrée are beers #434, #435 and #436 I Must Try Before I Die.

Christmas in (almost) July


Unlike some of the English pale ales, Czech pils and African lagers, Samichlaus is unquestionably a beer one must try before one dies. This 14% abv. Doppelbock is brewed every year before Christmas, on December 6th, aged 10 months before bottling, and delivered to the stores on time for Christmas. It ages beautifully, too. We held a vertical tasting of this beer back in 2011 in our Hebrew blog, with 2004 and 2010 bottles. I just started writing tasting notes then, and that session can be summed up as good and meh, respectively.

Last year The Beer Greek held bi-weekly tastings at work, to our colleagues who work with beer: the lovely product developer, the now deceased brewmaster, and the marketing crew. Being a part of the tasting panel of the brewery and generally someone who has a clue, I joined them. When it was time for the strong beer session, I donated a 2009 vintage bottle we had at home for comparison, cos The Secret Agent really doesn’t care about Samichlaus. This bottle was added to the 2011 and the then-newest 2013 bottle The Beer Greek brought.

Here are the tasting notes:

2013: Clear dark copper, small head. Cherry tomato, then raisins in the nose, very sweet, liquor-like taste. Smooth texture, full body and no carbonation. Long, raisins aftertaste.

2011: Same appearance. More raisins and chocolate aroma, deeper, more alcoholic taste, full-bodied, vinous finish.

2009: Deepr colour. Cherry tomato aroma again but also lots of chocolate. A little sour and a little sweet taste, vinous finish, smooth, no carbonation and long liquor and chocolate finish.

As I remembered, it gets deeper and sweeter as time goes by. I actually liked 2013 vintage the best in this tasting.

Samichlaus is Beer #433 I must Try Before I Die.

I need a Midas Touch


This morning started bad, physically and emotionally. I’m running errands on the computer I wish I hadn’t, procrastinating more urgent matters. It is one of these days that shouldn’t have happened and I wish everything just turned to bright, soulless gold.

Chose to waste my time updating this blog. Opened the spreadsheet I’ve been using to track down my progress and my eyes fell on Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch, one of the brewery’s best known beers, of 9% and a story of it being made with ingredients found in 2,700-year-old drinking vessels from the tomb of King Midas. Don’t feel like getting into this right now anyway. Shared my bottle, brewed in 2012, in March 2014. Clear gold with white ring. Sweet, honey and saffron aroma, sweet honey taste with the slightest sourness. Thick, full-bodied, syrupy, flat and round. Good and complicated beer, almost as complicated as my current state.

Midas Touch is Beer #432 I Must Try Before I Die </end of self-pity>

Quaffable and German

Veltins Pilsener is a harmless German beer. Pale in colour, slightly grassy aroma, mildly bitter and light-bodied. Augustiner Edelstoff, brought by Teva Boy to a bottleshare (only canned) is a light Helles beer, with a soft bread-grainy aroma, light body and a mildly bitter, yet grainy taste. This too is harmless and true-to-style for sure. Teva Boy also shared with us Andechser Weissbier Hell, which is a pretty amazing Hefeweizen. Cloudy yellow with white film. Classy aroma – banana and clove. Yeasty bittersweet taste. Medium-to-full body, slightly dried banana finish.

These 3 German beers, all suitable for summertime drinking but only the latter actually recommended, are Beers #425, #426 and #427 I Must Try Before I Die.

Portering with REL.

general_washington_tavern_porterGeneral Washington’s Tavern Porter by Yards Brewery from Philadelphia is inspired by a recipe that George Washington shared with his officers during the War of Independence. Some may find it hedonistic and inappropriate, to talk beer during war-time, but here in Israel we have a long history of generals and politicians who busy themselves raping, robbing archeological finds, gambling, bribing and befriending the mob, so beer drinking in wartime is peanuts. REL brought a bottle from a trip to the US, and shared it with us. It’s a good beer. Black with tan head. Malty, slightly roasty aroma with prune and date and caramel. Quite alcoholic bitterness as well as molasses in the mouth, smooth, medium-bodied, long, caramel finish. Rich and quite tasty.

drayman_porterFrom the same trip REL also brought a bottle of Drayman’s Porter by Berkshire Brewing Company, that was even better than Yards’. Black with tan head. Dryish malty aroma, like dry toast. Also dry in the mouth, good roastiness and dark fruit. Full-bodied, mildly carbonated with roasty finish. I love me some roastiness in big, robust porters. Thanks buddy!

General Washington’s Tavern Porter and Drayman’s Porter are beers #423 and #424 I Must Try Before I Die.

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