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.

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Flowers in the Attic

the logo - work in progress

One of the reasons we started this English-language blog is sharing the wonderful and ever-evolving Israeli beer scene with the rest of the world. Wonderful and ever-evolving is a good description for today’s post, brothers Nimrod and Yotam Rosenblatt, aka In The Attic, who hail from Tel Aviv’s suburb Holon.
But first, a disclosure: Nimrod is a friend. We first met because of our common interest in alcohol but a year or two later we are proud to count him as a true friend. Also for the record, we bought 2 of the beers we’d write about (Truman XP and Sage); the third (Red) was a birthday gift for MK.
Having written all that, let’s boogie.
In their (Hebrew alert!) blog, Nimrod and Yotam Rosenblatt describe themselves as “2 brothers who were bitten by the bug – experience and experiment with everything from winemaking, homebrewing, liquor-making, distilling rum [I shit you not! and it’s a really good rum too – Beergatherer], and probably more stuff – got any idea for us? We consider ourselves as ‘garage winery’ – so garage that we actually operate from the attic”

As you can probably guess, brewing is not the core business over at the attic. The Attic Beer is not a regular participant in local fests and tastings. I don’t think it was publicly served besides Beers 2011 and Beers 2012 expos in Tel Aviv. Regardless, the Rosenblatts are passionate about their brews and as with everything else they make, their beer is a fascinating learning process which they are happy to share with their blog readers. A learning process it is, but only batches that pass Nimrod and Yotam’s QA are offered for sale to those who are interested and know how to reach them, under the name Fush Fush, Yotam’s childhood nickname.

In The Attic at Beers2012 Expo

On Sunday evening The Secret Agent and I had a small get-together in our living room: us two, DSG and our Jersey Shore girlfriend, who is also Nimrod’s friend, but from a parallel, non-alcoholic universe. DSG and us had tasted In The Attic’s beers before – at this and last year’s expos and in other occasions, but we were all looking forward to focus our taste buds solemnly on these brews.

We started the evening with Fush Fush Sage, brewed on December 3rd 2011 and bottled on Boxing Day. Comparing the label to Rosenblatt Brothers’ blog entry I see that the ABV jumped a little from yesteryear’s 5.9% to 6.1%.

No, that’s not an ale spiced up with sage, but rather Saison-inspired ale where sage replaces hops in 2:3 ratio. The result is cloudy ruby-bronze coloured beer that pours beautifully with a big foam head. Here, have a look:

Home tasting

As any tea-drinker knows, sage is a bitter and dominant motherfucker. It takes over the nose with its herbal, green aroma. Its dominance was more apparent in the nose than in the mouth, because although the beer is sage-bitter, the taste is not nearly as dominant as the smell. Then comes the aftertaste and the sage once again pops in. Fush Fush Sage is unusual in all aspects. I am used to bitter beers, but this goes beyond the “whose IBU is higher” contest. I think that more balanced between the aroma and the taste would make it an even better beer.

We proceeded to Fush Fush Red, pale ale gifted to me by Nimrod. “You love grainy beer, so here you go”, he said. Brewed and bottled on the same days as their sage beer, the red holds 5.2% ABV. Pours hazy brown with minimal white foam, Fush Fush red has sweetish, almost oatmeal or maybe porridge aroma that I liked a lot. It tastes bitter-sweet and has this weird oil-like texture on the tongue and a long, pleasing aftertaste. That was my favourite beer in the tasting. No gimmicks, no fancy story, just fun and grainy beer.

The 3rd beer we had is Fush Fush Truman XP 1883, an IPA. Looks like recently everyone here’s been brewing IPA, and whereas I love, love, LOVE this style, I can’t help but feeling a bit o.d’d on Amarillo hops and grapefruit aroma. But the Rosenblatt Brothers are the last to jump on the bandwagon and theirs is anything but American-style IPA. Quite the contrary, actually. Nimrod and Yotam were trying to figure out what is it that the British troops drank in India. Their research brought up a recipe dated from 1883 and used for export beer by Truman Brewery. 7% ABV, Brewed on Shabbat, September 24 and bottled on December 4th, this ale that consists of variety of American, English, Czech and German hops pours orangey and opaque with a big foam head. I noticed vanilla soap in the nose and also soapiness in the mouth – now that’s a brutally bitter beer! the aftertaste is long and – surprise! – bitter, the beer is carbonated and all in all was fun on the tongue.

I am really looking forward to experience more of Nimrod and Yotam’s research and creativity.

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Three is for Triple

Last Sunday The Secret Agent and I hosted a small beer tasting. Before taking the bus to our place on the other side of town DSG texted and asked if we want him to bring a bottle. We never turn down beer and soDSG showed up with a numbered bottle of Brakspear Triple, newly imported to Israel but apparently still not commonly available. Triple hopped, triple fermented, quadruple shared, between us hosts, DSG and Yael, who is here for a visit from New Jersey.

Today I flipped through my notes and the 1001 book, and was happy to learn that we unintentionally made another step towards the goal – Brakspear Triple appears on the book.

I was rather surprised by all the citrus my nose and mouth met. Nose was malty and a little sweet with some orange, mouth starts sweet and becomes bitter with that orange cloud floating above. The clear, copper beer is light-bodied with too-delicate-to-my-taste carbonation and a long aftertaste.

The Secret Agent says it’s like a twisted British bitter. It wasn’t our favourite. However, the food match that appears on the brewery’s website looks fun though. Beer goes well with Dundee cake. No idea what Dundee cake is (though knowing cakes and Scotland chances of it being vegan are slim to none), but it sounds fun and heavy and nutty (I was right! it is heavy and nutty and not vegan – here!).

 

Brakspear Triple, 3/1001 Beers I must try before I die.

I’m out near Santa Fe hitching out for the warmer days

I first learned the true meaning of the term “Land of Enchantment” when I started trading art with photographer Mary Hockenbery, some 9 years ago, shortly after The Secret Agent and I got married. For 4.5 years after tying the knot we had were planning to spend the wedding money on a cross-country trip and when I day-dreamed about that trip Mary’s photos, especially the ones from her then-home New Mexico, were my point of reference.

When the road-trip became real in the spring of 2007, the Secret Agent and I spent about like 3 days in NM – mostly on Route 66 with a short detour to the Old Route in Santa Fe and from there up north, to Mary and Touffic’s adobe for the night. Mary’s Photos prepared me to the endless open road more than any guidebook and planted my love to the state. WordPress decided to act all cocky today, so you’ll actually have to click on the link to view Mary Hockenbery’s photohraphy, because it wouldn’t let me embed a pic here, despite Mary’s permission.

So what all this has to do with Beer? Oh, the bottles we got from Santa Fe Beer Co. via Beer of The Month Club made a good excuse to dwell over Mary’s Flickr. We drank the two a couple of weeks ago but due to the craziness that accompanied Beers 2012 Expo in Tel Aviv and then my birthday, I put the review on hold. Hailing from Santa Fe, the unusual triangular labels come as no surprise – why be conventional when there are other options?

First we sampled Nut Brown Ale – I love anything nutty in my beer (no pun intended?) and held high expectations for it. I wasn’t too impressed by the biscuit and cocoa aroma, but the taste – delicate bitterness, was nice. Also, the malty finish and smoothness were to my liking. Then we drank the State Pen Porter, which wasn’t bad either: coffee and roasted aroma and a strong bitter taste that reminded me of bittersweet chocolate and coffee. The beer was rather flat and the aftertaste was short. The beer wasn’t bad but a little one-dimensional in our opinion.

I’d like to taste more of their beer and re-taste these two; shipping doesn’t do much good to beer. Guess we must re-visit Santa Fe.

(title was borrowed from The Gun Club’s “Goodbye Johnny”)

Take Pride in Your London

The bottle of Fuller’s London Pride which one of us got in a goodie bag handed out at the Shtern1 Bar’s birthday party served us right eariler this week, when we sought after a beer to drink. We craved a simple, balanced brew, tasteful and gimmick-free and thankfully London Pride was there for us to drink.

Straight to the point, like the ale itself: pours amber, transparent and bubbly, with malt and candy smell and bitterness that revealed itself after a short shot of sweet maltiness. Medium body, carbonated with a long bitter finish. Even for beer-hoppers like us, who are always after new tastes, this is the beer to have handy in the fridge, for times when you want to drink beer for the sake of beer.

(Fuller’s London Pride, p.132. 2/1001)

Chimay, if you may.

Later in 2012 our friend’s husband will move to Bruges for 6 months of sub-specialization at the local hospital. Yup, the guy’s going to live in the proximity of ‘t Brugs Beertje; ain’t that a good excuse to drop by with a bottle of Belgium’s finest in hand? That, and the fact that I wanted to play with Rinat, Yael’s Blythe doll.

Chimay Blue has always been a favourite of mine. Full, rich and balanced and quite a blast for the unseasoned, or experimenting, beer drinker. We drank Chimay for the first time in San Diego, when visiting The Secret Agent’s brother and his family. It was in 2007 and my brother-and-sister-in-law just started getting into ales. One day, when we took a break from drinking rum and cocktails – brother-in-law’s specialization – we brought a few bottles of Belgians and one of which, I recall, was Chimay Blue. We were overjoyed to find Chimay in Israel, in bottles as well as on tap in a couple of bars and drank it aplenty, until quantity overcame quality and I started drinking by the book (read the first entry, My Year of Beer, for explanation).

So it’s been a while since the last time The Secret Agent and I drank a bottle of Chimay Blue, a while in which we sampled hundreds of other beers, expanded our horizons and extended our palette.  We were curious to drink it again and didn’t know what to expect from ourselves: will we find it too heavy? will it not be as exciting as it used to be?

I am happy to say that not only were we not disappointed, Chimay Blue still kicks ass: full body, fruity and nutty, pours beautifully and much-loved by us and by our drinking partners, for whom it was an introduction to Belgian beer. I am afraid that with such a beginning it’s only going to go downhill for them.

Anyway, Rinat digs Chimay as well:

This is the first step towards sampling everything from the book 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die.

(Chimay Bleue, p.654. 1/1001)

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