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 “April, 2013”

unfestive 100th post.

This is the 100th post in this blog. I intended to take a break from the 1001 countdown and write something about Israeli beer but after the turmoil we’ve been experiencing in the past week, I need a break. The increase on beer tax that was passed hastily, one night in late July, was finally put to discussion in the Knesset finances committee earlier this week. It was discussed on Monday, put to vote on Wednesday and became what now seems irreversible. Small brewers and entrepreneurs will think twice before getting a license, (most) bars will continue to be douchebags and sell small glasses of beer for a high price, doubling the actual price increase.

These are troubled times for Israeli beer drinkers and brewers.

We did make a lot of noise though. A few of us wrote and promoted an online petition that caught the media attention (Hebrew, but you can read the numbers) I was interviewed to a couple of major portals and on the radio and refused to be on TV, cos the camera gives you a beer belly, they say. Here’s a piece in English about the local scene: http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israeli-beer-lovers-foaming-over-rising-brew-tax.premium-1.517233

Anyway, I’m just too exhausted and the Israeli beer spotlight will have to wait, so let’s just make it to beers #219 and #220 I Must Try Before I Die with In-Heat Wheat by Flying Dog, a nice German Hefeweizen from Maryland, that has a strong spicy bubblegum aroma with lots of banana and black pepper and tastes sweetish and fruity, and Lagunitas Brown Shugga, a complex, layered barley wine that smells of cucumber, sage, nettle and pine, tastes a little medicinal, bitter, even herbal and has a sticky, syrupy, feeling full-body and long and a little sweet finish.

a dog here

a dog here

flying-dog-in-heat-wheat-beer

and another dog here

 

 

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Morning Pale Ale

LC Brewing LogoFriday morning, half an hour before I have to go to class. This is enough time for a short post. Let’s start with Little Creatures Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale from Down Under. New Zealand, Australia and South Africa are going to be the toughest nuts to crack in this 1001 mission due to their unavailability outside their countries and the travel plans The Secret Agent and I have.

Thanks to a beer buddy in Northern California we got a bottle of this one, amber in colour and a complex aroma that begins with burning piney sensation that evolves to grass and has some mango undertones too. It tastes bitter, a little dry and herbal and I could even sense basil. Light body and a refreshing grassy finish – a beer you’d like to try too. This beer seems to have a broad distribution, so keep an eye on the label and the cutesy name.

DrakesIt’s 21 minutes before I have to go, so let’s write about another cool beer I got from this beer buddy: Drakes IPA from California, that is very piney in the nose, and hoppy, dry and bitter in the mouth and has a fruity finish. Not too many words for one of the better IPA’s we have sampled lately.

 

Gotta be out in 10 minutes so that’s it for now. Little Creatures Pale Ale and Drakes IPA are beers #217 and #218 I Must Try Before I Die – you should try them too.

 

Tripel Pilsener

Been accumulating a bunch of German brews in my notebook, too many to fit in one entry. Today is German Pilsener time, at least in writing, as drinking plans for tonight include an Israeli Belgian Tripel and maybe a visit to the Dancing Camel.

Weihenstephan_pilsWeihenstephaner Pils is the third and last beer from the brewery whose name I hate to type the most that is listed in the book (look here for notes about Vitus and the Weissbier). We’ve been drinking Weihenstephaner quite a lot recently: Carlsberg Israel, who also represent Weihenstephan in the country, just started marketing bottled Weissbier. In the 10 years since its landing in the local market the beer was only served on tap, gained popularity – Israel is the largest Weihenstephaner drinker per capita – and now we can finally drink this great beer at home. Anyway, I was invited to a press event that included an interesting tasting guided by Herr Frank Peifer, Head Braumeister and got a generous swag bag with bottles that are widely available elsewhere but not here – lucky us. One of the beers in the bag was the Pils, a bless since the bottle we had sampled from a couple of months ago was already a little old and off. The freebie beer poured clear and golden and had a great bready aroma, a little grassy, a little lemony, and a very grainy taste. highly carbonated, light-bodied, smooth and very refreshing.

Weihenstephaner Pils, Jever Pilsener and Flensburger Pilsener are beers #214, #215 and #216 I Must Try Before I Die and I’m glad I drank them.

jeverpilsenerWe brought a  Jever Pilsener can from Switzerland – that was a while ago already! First brewed a year after NSADP was ‘democratically’ elected (why do I have to mention this? cos my geekiness expands to other fields, WWII is one of them, that why). This is a straight-to-the-point pilsener: grainy aroma, a little sweet with hints of melon. Bitterness follows the initially sweet taste, the body is light and the aftertaste is grainy. Very drinkable and nice.

flensburger-pilsenerLast on today’s list but definitely not least is Flensburger Pilsener that comes all the way fom Germany’s northernmost Bundesland Schleswig-Holstein. The 1001 book tells us that the flip-top “Plop” sound was trademarked by the brewery. I can’t remember what it sounded like when we opened the bottle that Teva Boy shared with us. It must be different than, say, the sound of Grolsch’s flip top bottle: different glass, different size, different sound, but since pouring and opening sounds aren’t rateable, at least not among our peer group, no one seems to notice, I think. What did we notice then? The grainy and a little grassy aroma; the fresh, grainy bitter taste; the light body; and the sweet and a little metallic finish. Fun to drink as well, but less than the previous two.

(edited 19/4: where the hell did the last and most important sentence go?!?! These three German pilseners are beers #214, #215 and #216 I Must Try Before I Die!)

I Can’t Believe It’s Weekend

tssting10.4

all blurry after the tasting

Good company, yummy vegan pizza, hoppy tea and plenty of beer – even though Thursday was a work day and Friday-Saturday are far from being fun, with homework and gym task, Wednesday’s tasting felt like a grand opening for a fabulous weekend. It could’ve been a fab weekend, had I not dug my own career-driven grave with textbooks in lieu of a shovel.

Anyway, a great tasting it was. 20 beers, 5 of which are book material! Sagres Bohemia from Portugal. The book that accompanies this blog says that the best spot to drink this beer is Cervejaria Trindade in Lisbon. I wish. See, I list just about EVERYTHING and Portugal is listed in my Top 15 Countries to Visit. Sadly, it is not on The Secret Agent’s top-15 list (that’s basically constructed of the 16 German Bundesländer) so there are no plans to visit there anytime soon. The ambiance at out Tel Avivian tasting was great, but apparently not as great as Cervejaria Trindade’s. No reason to gush over this beer in Tel Aviv. Fruity, bready and a little metallic aroma and a sweet and nasty taste that I didn’t get. The Beer Greek says it tastes like vomit. I guess it’s  one of those beers that you need to drink in a specific location to enjoy.Cerveja Sagres BohemiaAllagash Tripel Reserve, on the other hand, was awesome. Our beer peers are mostly hop-heads and tend to be pretty jaded towards anything remotely Belgian. This surprised us all for the better. Hazy-to-cloudy amber with white head and this Belgian aroma of yeast, bubblegum, spices and chemicals. It tastes fruity, spicy and juicy and feels a little like wheat beer – very tasting and very fulfilling.

allagash

Then we had a Belgian Belgian beer: Malheur Dark Brut with its surprising 12% abv. is a nice and complex ‘digestif’ brew. Very dark, opaque brown, sand-coloured head and an interesting chocolate-mint aroma that’s accompanied with a little fruitiness. It tastes mildly sweet and fruity, there’s cherry in the mouth, but not in a sour-beer sort of way. After a moment comes pleasing chocolate sweetness. It has a full body, a little chocolate in the finish and an alright carbonation. Note that alcohol is not mentioned in the tasting notes – keep in mind the 12% abv!

Malheur Dark Brut

Hair of the Dog Adam is a 10% abv. Dortmunder from Portland, Oregon, that has an uncompromising, complex aroma: ink, squid, sugary-sweetness, prone and very faint smokiness and an edgy, very bitter taste that also has fruit and prune notes. Full body, smooth, fruity finish with raisins – a rich, interesting beer.

adam

5th beer in this Tasting was Old Stock Ale by North Coast Brewing, vintage 2012 that Big Bear says is the lightest barley wine he has ever tasted. It’s a nice beer, but aging would have done good to it. Shame we didn’t wait. Clear reddish brown, with alcohol, honey and some chocolate in the nose – aroma which is sweet and bitter alike – Very sweet, slightly bitter and dry in the mouth, syrupy texture, medium-to-full body, mildly carbonated and an alcoholic finish.

Old-Stock-2012

So… Sagres Bohemia, Malheur Dark Brut, Allagash Tripel Reserve, Adam by Haid of the Dog and North Coast Old Stock Ale are beers #209, #210, #211, #212 and #213 I Must Try Before I Die. Off to bed to get some sleep!

trois bières et de fumée*

(*blame Google Translate for any incoherence)

4 days after landing and I’m still in a holiday mode, that’s aided by Daylight Saving Time and the fact that the homework deadline is not until Sunday.

Uh, I guess the holiday mode ends this afternoon then.

Still haven’t digitized the tasting notes from Romania – been busy slutwalking, declaring that it won’t happen to me cos I’ll kill myself as soon as I start losing my cognitive abilities and/ or suffer from urinary incontinence after watching Amour and getting high on the smell of fresh garlic – I wish I could send you a link to this scent! I’ve been thinking about scent recording a lot during the trip to Romania. Every evening when we were out in the cold and smelled the smoke coming out of the chimneys I took a big sniff in attempt to observe this fiery scent in my mind.

this beer blog is powered by radical feminism.

this beer blog is powered by radical feminism.

I love those social-reject aromata. I can sniff my fingers for hours after cutting garlic and sometimes I go into phases of using Pine Tar Soap because of its bonfire aroma. I keep a stash of bars in the bathroom cupboard to satisfy this crave. Readers who are not new to the blog already know that a smokey aroma means an automatic beer-crush. Thus, I was so delighted when The Actuary brought a big bottle of Alaskan Smoked Porter to a small tasting we had on Thursday. Big bottle + small tasting = more for me! Alascan Brewing smokes its own malt for this beer and releases it once a year. The bottle shared with us is from a 2012 vintage. It pours very black with a light brown head and has a hardcore smokey aroma, like a fire-pit. Smoke is present in the mouth as well and the beers bitterness reminds me more than anything eating a slightly burnt potato peel. Lag BaOmer’s around the corner. As an aware adult I am deeply angered by the air pollution this day brings but as a smoke-ash fiend I just wish I had somewhere to scam a burnt potato from. Anyone?  Anyway, back to the beer, it has the most perfect pallate! Medium-to-heavy body, round, slightly sweet finish, mild carbonation and a dry feel that leads to a smoky aftertaste. I’m in love!

alaskan_unibroue

We brought to the tasting a bottle of Unibroue Trois Pistoles that’s been laying in the fridge for quite some time. This 9% abv. liquid pours headless murky dark brown and unpretty sight that follow with a weird and unpredictable nutty aroma: walnut liquor, alcohol and nutmeg. That taste that follows is as spicy as it gets: sweet, candy, marzipan, tonka and hot spices were noted. The body is full and heavy, carbonation is delicate and a warm feeling follows. It’s a nice, warming winter beer that’s hard to drink on its own. It was wise sharing it.

terribleThe Dead Swedish Girl expressed her concern when I asked for a refill – in a previous tasting The Secret Agent and I brought another bottle of Unibroue, La Terrible, that got me terribly drunk. It was quite intentional, as I needed to unload some emotional burden caused by a certain (positive and blessed yet emotionally exhausting) project at work. Again, Belgian Strong Ale, high abv (10.5%), big bottle and lots of liquid to spare. Black, opaque with an off-white head that dissolves quickly, sweet, nutella chocolate spread aroma that’s also somewhat spiced and a sweet, spicy and slightly fruity taste. Terrible’s body is full and its finish is very sweet. Again, heavy, very spicy, very tasty and more suitable for dessert than for half-way through the tasting.

Alaskan Smoked Porter and Trois Pistoles and Terrible by Unibroue are beers #206, #207 and #208 I Must Try Before I Die. Hope this weekend is as sunny and warm wherever you are!

 

Swedish Hasbeen

Relax, this is still a beer blog.

Relax, this is still a beer blog.

We’re back from a 12 days family trip to Romania, with stories, information and photos that when we have the time and the energy will find their way to this blog. Meanwhile, let’s continue with the Big Catching Up project and move to two Swedish beers we got to sample. First is Nils Oscar God Lager, a rather OK Helles, not far from good but definitely ungodly. Golden, clear with white head, malty/ caramel nose, bitter, metallic and a tad bit sweet in the mouth. Light-bodied, only a little fizzy, definitely drinkable, certainly not outstanding.

NilsOscar-God-lager

Second is D.Carnegie & Co Stark Porter, a bottle of which found its way to David, owner of the Dancing Camel. An Opaque, black Baltic Porter with fruity aroma, or maybe dried-fruit one: prune, date and carob spread. Its taste matches the aroma with deep sweetness and hints of chocolate. Smooth texture, medium body and a warming sensation that was oh, so suitable to that cold December night when we tasted it. Yes, we’re THAT behind.

Carnegie-Porter

Nils Oscar God Lager and D.Carnagie Porter are beers #204 and #205 I Must Try Before I Die.

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