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.

Forgive me whoever, for I have sinned.

Last weekend bore two beer-centered meetings: a small bottle-can tasting at our place on Friday night and a one-on-one get-together with The Ovarian Sis at the Porter & Sons on Saturday afternoon.

Tasting was mellow. Most of the regulars are family men and spend the weekend with their kin. My kin and I had two people over this time and some bottles that normally don’t make it to the tasting sessions were opened: various unrateable homebrews and stuff from Beer of the Month Club, which usually contain rather mediocre stuff, from obscure and rather forgettable breweries.  Beer you never hear about nor couldn’t live without them. I was quite surprised to find out that Lancaster Milk Stout from Lancaster Brewing Co., that arrived in one of the latest shipping is listed as one of the 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die book.

I was looking forward to receiving Lancaster’s samples, because one of the beers we received is called Amish Four Grain. I’ve been a sucker for anything Amish since my Greyhound trips in the 1990’s and my introduction to quilting, which happened more or less at the same time. There’s a drawing of a silhouette of an Amish carriage on the label – how awesome is that? –  Alas, the Four Grain was disappointing. Tasted like old malt, unpleasant bitterness. The milk stout was somewhat better: dark brown-black with a light brown head and smells like chocolate milk made with dark chocolate and also some roast. Tastes bitter, delicate but rather bland, light bodied and softly carbonated. Beer was OK, but had there not been the mission, I could’ve lived without it.

It was strange drinking this specific bottle. I went vegan last October and solved the conflict of drinking milk stout in a rather rabbinical way: I didn’t buy the bottle especially for the tasting;  got it as a part of the monthly deal on an account the lacto-vegetarian Secret Agent and I share; we split the bottle between four people. Enough of the apologetica: drinking cow-stout is uncool, brewing it is even uncooler.

Fast forward to Saturday. Early evening with the Ovarian Sis, one of Israel’s beer pioneers. Drank Oketz by HaDubim and for the second round I opted for Newcastle Brown Ale, that I recalled was in the book.

While writing the paragraphs about Lancaster Milk Stout I suddenly recalled a conversation I had 15 years ago, in a London squat. I just went vegan for the first time (and then lasted around a year) and  my buddy Orly filled me up about hidden animal abuse in food. She said that Newcastle use blood in order to dye their beer in that deep brown colour. Back then I didn’t even know what Newcastle beer was, but the info stuck, apparently. I googled “is newcastle brown ale vegan” and landed in Barnivore who unsurprisingly had nothing to say about blood, but mentioned isinglass.

Beer was tasty, but I’m a little sad.

There must be alternatives to fish-derived agents.

#48, #49 beers I crossed off the list of Beers I must Try Before I Die.


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2 thoughts on “Forgive me whoever, for I have sinned.

  1. Noam on said:

    English beer are traditionally fined with isinglass so Newcastle may not be the only one.
    One the other hand, milk stouts are rarely brewed with milk. they usually have lactose added to them but i do not know if that is necessarily milk derived lactose.

    • Lancaster Brewery’s reply to Barnivore’s inquiry states that their milk stout isn’t vegan-friendly. Regarding English beer – at a glance it seems that the biggest challenge lays in the cask. *sigh*

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