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 “February, 2012”

Lucky 12, Lucky 13

In the past week we drank two different beers from the 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die book. First was Young’s Double Chocolate Stout that we shared with Cousin Kaos who crashed at our place on Wednesday night. He loves stout and we aren’t too crazy about this particular stout, so splitting the 50 cl nitro can between three drinkers instead of the usual two was perfect. Beer itself was what we remembered from previous encounters (tap, nitro can and a sample in a blind porter/ stout tasting a few weeks back, that I’m not sure whether it was poured from bottle or can) – not our kind of thing. Well, it’s beautiful. Black and so creamy you wouldn’t tell the difference between draught sample and this. (Burnt) chocolate dominates the aroma, the taste and the aftertaste. This is a light, smooth and bitter beer that as much as we tried didn’t leave too much impression. Cousin Kaos didn’t fall off the couch in awe, but things got better when The Secret Agent compensated him with IPA from HaDubim brewery (a thorough review on their ales is planned for the next quarter).

On Friday night we were invited to our friends’ house. The Secret Agent’s BFF #1 and his spouse invited BFF #2, his wife and their kid and us. #1 Being non drinkers, they advised us to bring our own booze. The Secret Agent sent me to the store, to fetch a bottle of Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen, a recent and much-loved discovery, an Israeli IPA and whatever else I fancied. Picked a bottle of Alexander Green (that’s the local IPA), Brooklyn Winter Ale because I have only sampled at Beers 2012 Expo, said Weizen and Schloss Eggenberg Urbock 23 That we haven’t had for months. In the evening we drank 3 out of the 4: the Schlenkerla, Alexander Green and Urbock. First two were excellent, third is listed. Pours hazy golden with a small head. It smells sweet and grainy, malty and nutty. It tastes rich and sweet but wasn’t really exciting. Its body is full, texture – oily, lightly carbonated. I remembered it to be a better beer than the one we drank on Saturday night.

#12, #13 beers I must try before I die.

Heebs Drink Brews

It was love on first sight. The moment I saw a picture of Shmaltz’ Coney Island lagers on Beer Ticker and Traveler Dror’s blog (The most appropriate Hebrew alert so far), I knew I had to get me a bottle.  I mean – Coney Island’s sideshow AND beer for the same price – the best bargain ever since Route 66 Root Beer.

When my Excellent Little Brother flew with his wife, ala Li’l SIL to NY last summer, in order to find an apartment and help her settle down before school starts, I sent him to Wholefoods with a small wish-list and he came back to Israel with a bottle of the Sword Swallower (and Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly and Oomegang’s Three Philosophers). Don’t remember whether I asked him to bring this one specifically or let him choose whatever he fancies. In any case, The Sword Swallower that arrived at our place last September graced our fridge with her beauty while we were patiently waiting for a good opportunity to open that bottle. A short correspondence with don’t remember who revealed that Dror has a He’Brew bottle at home. He was willing to share his stash and after a few weeks of messaging back and forth we found one evening that the three of us were free to meet. Much to our delight Dror brought along 3 different bottles, one of which appears in the 1001 book – cool!

All four bottles were past their prime. Ours was bought in August, Dror’s even before that.

We started with Genesis Ale, Shmaltz’s first creation (that recently underwent face lift). This amber ale pours hazy red with some while foam and sports oily citrus-honey aroma. It has rich, bitter taste with faint hoppiness. After a few sips the taste become sweeter. With a medium body, oily feeling and bitter finish this is a fun beer to drink – it’s mellow and sweet. Not too extreme, but that’s just fine.

Second was the brown ale now sold as Messiah Nut Brown Ale but sold to Dror in days of yore as Messiah Bold. This one pours cloudy coke-coloured with a minimal tan head. I smelled roast, soft chocolate aromas and wine. Taste was roasty as well, sweet with apparent chocolate. Its body was thin and watery, finish was long and  carbonation pretty muchlong  gone.

This was the weakest link in the tasting.

Look at these beauties!

Our bottle of Coney Island Sword Swallower, IPA brewed with lager yeast, came next. This beer with hazy golden colour with minimal white head bore the aroma of date honey and vanilla – the Body Shop kind of heavy vanilla. It starts sweet and innocent but then the taste explodes into bitterness. It’s a little oily and sleek medium-bodied beer, carbonated with a long and bitter finish. Weird beer but I liked it.

We finished with Bittersweet Lenny from page 64 in the book. Ruby copper colour, cloudy with tan foam. Its aroma is rich, full of raisins and alcohol. Its taste is bitter, soapy with some fruit. Long aftertaste, full body, smooth with minimal carbonation.

Dror was kind enough to leave us the labels, so we him donated the Coney Island bottle cap.

To sum up this post, that also covers the 11th beer out of the 1001 I’m gonna try before I die, that’s how I learned about Lenny Bruce:

Old Punks Don’t Die – They Just Smell That Way.

Today we opened our bottle of Best Before December 14th 2011 Brewdog Punk IPA. My fault. The Secret Agent has been campaigning for this beer for months, but because of the 2011 beer mission (see this blog’s About page. There’s a link in the header) Beers that aren’t commercially available in Israel weren’t on top of my list. Working in a full-time job and going to school, my schedule, drinking schedule and otherwise, is not as flexible as self-employed Secret Agent’s and more often than not I have to reject his offer for another beer. There is so much Macroeconomics one can digest after drinking more than one bottle of beer.

I liked Brewdog’s Punk IPA before I drank it and even before I saw the bottles in real-life. How can an old punk with a long-time affection for anything Scottish remain indifferent to Scottish beer called Punk IPA (and Hardcore IPA too, for that matter)?

I liked it just as much after I drank it. Pours cloudy amber with a minimal white head, the beer still reeks of orange and flowers – yes, despite the bottle’s age, the hop is still there! Obviously, this is a very bitter beer. I felt citrus on my tongue as well. However, there’s more to it than just bitterness – it’s got body and substance and we enjoyed it.

So, punk. Scottish punk. An obvious finale’ to this entry would’ve been The Exploited’s Punk’s Not Dead. Screw that. Here’s Ex-Cathedra instead:

10/1001 Beers One Must Try Before One Dies.

Cozy Winter Beer

So… last night, while going through the book’s index, I bumped into Mc Chouffe. It’s a beer I’ve drank more than once and as recent as last Friday, when I skipped the last Macro Economics class  for this semester – not a wise thing to do, but it’s not as if the teaching assistant in this class teaches or assists anyway. Despite the nice novelty of good weather after a couple of unusual winter, The Secret Agent and I were in mood for winter beer. when we arrived at Ninkasi pub on the border of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, one of us ordered Le Trappe Isid’or – a new player in the local beer market – and the other resumed to good, ol’ Dwarf Beer. This is an unfiltered, dark, rich and spicy beer with notes of clove and allspice. Sweetness reveals itself  along the way and the full body sure keeps you warm.

There’s a Chouffe-branded street bar in our neighbourhood, some 100 meters/ 90 yards from our flat. They serve 2-3 different kinds of Chouffe beer on tap, but every time we walk by we face the grim reality: a bunch of douchebags sitting there, watching sports on the big screen and drinking bottled Tuborg. Yes, some people are within an arm’s reach from fresh Chouffe from the tap yet choose to drink Tuborg. The horror…


On a sour note

When I heard that a group of fellow beergeeks were working on a tasting session of sour beer, I contacted DSG and asked to see their tasting plan, should they sample anything that’s listed on the 1001 book. DSG forwarded me the beer list for the evening and I was delighted to find Grand Cru Bruocsella Cantillon on their list and jumped on the opportunity to cross it off mine. I might be losing friends or credibility over the next sentence but it must be said: I really don’t like sour beer. Veganism taken into account, I’m not a picky eater or drinker. I’d try everything once and last October I sampled 4 different offerings from Cantillon on the brewery tour. I tolerated none.
I asked to join for the Cantillon part of the evening. The gang kindly agreed to share their 2007 vintage with The Secret Agent and I and thus last night we joined them around the long wooden desk in a meeting room in an office in the city center. They were already in the middle of consuming acidity, that was accompanied by pretzels and (brilliant) homemade Sauerkraut.
A generous portion of yellowish hazy Grand Cru Bruocsella was poured to wine goblets. Following the pouring were a few good minutes of overwhelming Sourness with capital S. Whereas the aroma was tolerable – I sensed apples (thank goodness I didn’t smell what my partner in crime did – piss), drinking was difficult: extreme sourness with clear saltiness attacked my taste buds. My attempts to keep up appearances in front of my hosts failed as I couldn’t control my facial expression. I drank it all though, swallowed every bit of the flat, light and slightly oily liquid. Then we thanked our generous hosts that all seemed to devour their share, and headed up the street to Little Prague, the Czech restaurant that celebrated its 10th anniversary with 10nis. refills and souvenir pint mugs. Kozel Premium and Edelweiss Weissbier Snowfresh for the lady, Edelweiss Weissbier Dunkel and Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier for her man sure helped us to overcome the trauma.

Then, while summing up this entry, I realised that our beloved Franziskaner is listed in the book too, so this entry covers Beer #7 and #8 out of those 1001 Beers I must try before I die.

Thank you, chubby, happy monk, for that liquid goodness.

Alpha Geeks

A couple of weeks ago and fashionably late the birthday present from my Awesome Little Brother arrived: a carefully packed parcel, contained three pieces of “collectible glassware” from his new city of residence and home, New York, New York.  Always happy to support his sister’s obsessions, my Awesome Little Brother consulted The Secret Agent and took me 2 steps down the 1001 road with two IPA’s and tucked in a third, mission-unrelated IPA that’s supposed to be good.

Beer tastes better in company, and thus we brought along one of the bottles to a tasting that took place at the Dancing Camel brewpub. Around the table gathered Ratebeerians, bloggers, brewers, entrepreneurs and a beer mercenary, some with notebooks, others without, and sipped through the 13 beers pictured below in order of drinking  (left-to-right).

Lucky 13 (thanks for the pic, Schachar).

I am one of those who were taking notes. The next day I compared my notes to the book and was happy to realize that besides the bottle we brought, two more of the beer we sampled are in the book; 3 steps in one evening, I’m almost, just almost, half way through 🙂

Tasting notes by order of drinking, in order to save the best for last.

It was Shachar from Beer and Beyond who brought Pilsner Urquell. It may seem a little odd among all those micros and ales that dominate the picture, but that was a bottle of unfiltered  unpasteurized (of course it’s unpasteurized, being clear and all how can it be unfiltered? thanks DSG for correcting) beer. I believe it’s not even commercially available here; Shachar may have received his bottle from the importers. It pours clear golden with quickly dissolving head and brought a rich, malty scent to my nostrils, with hints of honey and sweetness. It tasted bitter and hoppy but it was a different sort of bitter than the other stuff we sampled yesterday. It’s body was light, carbonation soft and the finish dry. It was a fresh, light beer  and writing about it makes me miss summer. I think that a visit to the Czech restaurant in the city center is inevitable (hell yes it’s inevitable! Just checked out Little Prague’s website to see if they still serve Urquell and learned that they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary this very week, with 10nis. halves!).

Zvika from Ratebeer supplied us with Stone IPA. The Secret Agent and drank Stone for the first time in 2007, on our cross-country road trip. We were shopping for beer in Wholefoods San Diego, on our way to a mountain cabin near Julian, to meet my friend, artist and dollmaker Lynn Dewart for the first time and celebrate her birthday. We picked stone because the gargoyle looked cool. Don’t even remember which Stone it was then (pale ale, maybe?). Anyway, I loved that IPA. It pours cloudy orange with light foam, bears fun aroma of orange and citrus, bitterness dry and fun as well – and a dry finish, fair carbonation and a light body that somehow holds everything together almost perfectly.

Laughing Dog’s AlphaDog Imperial IPA sealed the tasting on an EXTREMELY bitter note. Its bitterness goes to eleven and its IBU to 127. It pours cloudy golden with a medium head and I smelled maple candy, honey, some grass and citrus. The taste, as you can guess was extreme and edgy. No balance between the nose and the mouth, but I think that’s the point here. It finished on a long and dry note and I loved it. I know I would’ve loved it less had it been a bottle shared by another attendee, one that wasn’t sent by my Awesome Little Brother, but what the hell.

Laughing Dog AlphaDog Imperial IPA,Stone India Pale Ale (IPA),Pilsner Urquell (unpasteurized), 4,5,6/1001 Beers I must try before I die.

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