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.

1001 Beers, they are everywhere.

40% listed in one book, 20% listed in the other.

We are only in the beginning of the 1001 Beer Challenge, but so far it seems like the supply is bigger than the demand. I meet a girlfriend at a restaurant, order a glass of beer and later at home discover that it’s in the book; I grab newly imported Australian ales at the store and upon flipping pages in the book I see that two out of the three bottles available here are in the book. And then there are the tastings. We go to beer tastings, making sure to bring listed beers and then at home discover that other people’s bottles are also in the book. It’s easy, a bit too easy, even, but I know that at one point beer gathering will be taken over by beer hunting, when seasonal beer from New Zealand and Kenyan lager will become the main scope of this challenge.

But so far, so good. Last week Shachar, the Living Swedish Boy and the Dead Swedish Girl came over to drink Bischoff Kellerbier and Leffe Rosa with us. These are two out of the three remaining beers left in order to complete our Hebrew mission. Leffe Rosa took space that could’ve been used for fancy beer in Shachar’s suitcase and the Kellerbier was mail-ordered and delivered to me by Bischoff’s representative in Israel, who heard about me and made sure I’d tick this beer, although he doesn’t import it anymore. Last beer remaining for this mission is a shitty eurolager named Kaiser. It’s Austrian.

Shachar wanted to use the opportunity to sample some bottles he had brought from Czech Republic last October. Among them was Master Polotmavý, an amber lager that according to the book is only available on tap – things have changed since its release, this time for the better but I’m sure that the time that passes usually won’t be an advantage in the future. Influenced by Dreher’s Vienna Lager (the real Austrian brewer whose name was bought by a beer corporation that gave Dreher Bak its name). This is a dark and hazy beer with some foam – not the prettiest beer I’ve seen, I must say. I smelled cooked fruit and it tasted sweet with just a hint of bitterness. Smooth texture, light body and thankfully – short finish. It must’ve been a much nicer beer when fresh.

Krampus Imperial Helles from Southern Tier brewery was in the package my Excellent Little Brother sent me for my birthday. Hazy amber in colour with thick foam, it smelled of grapefruit and evergreen but also of grain. It tastes bitter and feels very, very dry. With a short finish, lovely carbonation and light body, the people of Southern Tier successfully brewed the anti-Christmas beer. After last night I would love to drink their anti-Saint Patrick beer and if they don’t have one already, they should consider brewing one.

Some bottles we mail-ordered arrived by mail, and we shared a bottle of Boont Amber Ale by Anderson Valley with the gang. I think it was old. Clear dark amber with sweet aroma – candy and sugar, but I sensed sourness as well.  Taste was bad: stale and as sour as old milk. Finish was sour as well. No “subtle rich roasted quality”. Shame. It always sucks when beer goes wrong, but it sucks even more when roasty beer goes wrong.

Finally, DSG’s contribution for the evening was Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing, beer which name and label win my heart. I’m a sucker for sleazy West German bands “historical” lyrics, and drinking beer that bears Russia’s Greatest Love Machine’s name made me stupidly happy. The beer was good, probably the best   in that tasting. Black, opaque with tan head and sweet, wine and roasty aroma, its full body held round, roasty and bitter flavours which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Yes, this modest tasting supplied beers # 22, 23, 24, 25 I must try before I die. A few more were accumulated in the notebook in the past week or two and  I hope to write about them soon.

Here’s some more Old Rasputin for your viewing and listening pleasure:


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