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 “July, 2013”

May Contain Traces of Nuts

samuel smith nut brown ale

Yes, I picked Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale for tonight’s dinner because of its name. I am going nuts and that was the one bottle in the fridge I felt like drinking. Don’t like it? Shoot me (and I’ll be forever grateful, though it probably means that I’ll miss my chance of visiting Samuel Smith’s brewery in North Yorks). Maybe it’s my state of exhaustion, but this brown ale IS nutty! Chestnuty, even. It has a chestnut-brown colour and it smells like an almost rotten roasted chestnut – do you know what I mean or do you get your winter fix all fresh and local and not a bit sketchy, like the selection in the hellhole where we live? The taste completes the aroma, a little sweet, like that spoiled chestnut taste, which works just fine in this beer. Gently carbonated, robust and a long, mellow bitter finish, this is a pretty good and balanced beer.

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale is beer #269 I Must Try Before I Die. I think I’ll go to get some sleep now.


the ritualistic end-of-tasting pic

the ritualistic end-of-tasting pic

Last Sunday The Secret Agent and I joined a sour beer tasting at the Beer and Beyond shop in Tel Aviv. It was the first time that we actually participated in a sour beer tasting and not just crashing. We have not yet acquired the taste but we’ve been handling it quite well and religiously following the 1001 book, that commands us to¬† imbibe a handful of those pungent concoctions. Thus when we order, trade and pimp beer we make sure to include sour stuff to drink and tick and share in these special sessions.

We contributed two bottles to Sunday’s gathering. First is Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise, 2010 vintage that Shachar, owner of Beer and Beyond to whom I failed to find a permanent nick, carried from Belgium (knowing he’ll get a glass ūüôā ). 4th out of the five Cantillon reps. in the book. Old lambic with an addition of glucose, says The Holy Book, and more raspberries than Ros√© de Gambrinus – the 5th Cantillon in the book, which we haven’t tasted yet so we cannot compare.

Cantillon and fans

Cantillon and fans

Look at this beauty: hazy red with a pale pink head. I wish its aroma was as good as its looks: it smells acidic and a little like acrylic paint. As it sits in the glass the raspberries rise to the nostrils. It tastes faintly of raspberries, violently sour and somewhat rotten. No carbonation, medium body. Look at REL and The Dead Swedish Girl having the time of their lives.

boonThe Actuary (de jure and de facto!) brought Boon¬†Oude Geuze and Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait. We had actually drank the former a couple of weeks ago with Nimrod from The Attic¬†alcoholic empire¬†but I haven’t got to write about that session yet. Oude Geuze smelled stinky and urinal at¬†Beer and Beyond but¬†2 weeks ago in Haifa it was more like sour milk, rotten oranges left on the¬†grove’s ground and baby shit – I shit you not. I rated the orange and¬†milk¬†(and baby shit) aroma higher. ¬†Taste? Very sour. Carbonation? None. I liked it best when we drank it in Romania, but that’s for another entey that’s in the work. Mariage Parfait is like premium Oude Geuze, personally blended by the brewmaster. I like it better than the regular geuze. It was clearer in colour, solphuric in the nose¬†and tastes more tolerable and delicate with every sip.

last, yeasty, drop

last, yeasty, drop

Finally – our crown jewel, one of these beers you think you’d never find and its unexpected appearance on the shelf fills you with joy: BFM L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (2011 vintage): we found it in Beer Planet in Z√ľrich during our Swiss Weekend. A blend of beers aged in oak casks that was the perfect finale to the tasting. It’s an ugly beer – orange, headless and filled with floaties – cloudy and yeasty in my glass, clear in DSG’s that got the first pour, that smells of nuts, bile and gherkin water. The taste is rather pleasing – very sour, of course, but reminds me of fruit soup – and becomes more tolerable and even sweeter as sips go by. The body is full and heavy, finish is slightly sour and carbonation is high. Like the other three mentioned here – not an easy drink.

There are plenty of other sour beers in the book. We drank a few that we haven’t got a chance to blog about and are already on the lookout for more. Glad that there are tastings – drinking lambics by ourselves would have been nearly impossible.

Cantillon Lou Pepe,¬†Boon Oude Geuze, Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait and L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien are beers #265, #266, #267 and #268 I Must Try Before I¬†Die.

No Sleep Til Dunno When.

I always make an effort to Get Things Done on Saturday morning, before The Secret Agent wakes up, in the sense of catching up on personal emails, updating both blogs, reading books and magazines (if “reading books and magazines” is synonymous to scrolling down Facebook) and making time to further weekend activities and studying. But I was so exhausted last Saturday that I couldn’t bring myself to turn on the laptop. Instead, I was sitting on the couch for the better part of the day, slowly studying, doing something that has no relation to alcohol consumption, documentation or marketing – something different, for a change.

Writing during the week is difficult these days as well. New job, so much to learn, so many things to do. I come back home at dusk and just want to eat something and go to sleep, that is if nothing keeps me outside til midnight. Things aren’t gonna get easier anytime soon, but I believe that in a couple of months, when I get a better grip on work, quick updates during the week will come easier.

So what’s with this weekday update? Oh, I spent the day in the field, meeting our customers and learning what they need. Got to soak some sunlight, sat on the passenger’s seat, arrived early and now I’m all charged with energy to report last week’s tasting’s 1001 Beer Book’s samples.

???????????????????????????????It’s a bad picture, taken in the end of the session. First arrow to the right is Thirsty Dog’s Hoppus Maximus that is actually not in the book, but its label is so atrocious, it should be shared:

WTF Label of the Year Award

WTF Label of the Year Award

It’s a good beer though. Bottle was quite old but it still felt fresh and hoppy.

Next – Poperings Hommelbier from Belgium, 7.5% abv. of Belgian aleness, cloudy amber with a yeasty, somewhat medicinal-bitterness aroma and fun taste that reminds me of bubblegum and marzipan. It has a rather refreshing hoppy bitter finish and a light body, considering the alcohol volume – but it works well for this beer.

Meantime India Pale Ale came from a trade I did with a Kansas beergeek. Imagine the journey this bottle made! From the London Brewhouse to its US distributors in Texas, to the Sunflower State to the Land of Rape and Honey. That’s a way more radical journey than the England-Subcontinent route that IPA’s were designed for. The 1001 book tells us that brewery’s founder Alastair Hook’s first ambition was to recreate 19th century style IPA and porter. He conducted historical research, loaded the IPA with Fuggle and Goldings hops and recommends to age the beer in a cellar for a few years. I think this tri-continental journey is enough for one beer. It’s an unpretty cloudy orange with a bitter, leafy and grassy aroma that also had notes of the liquid used to store gherkin and it tastes bitter and rather stale. With a medium body, soft fizz for IPA’s as we usually know them and a long, bitter finish, this is an OK beer, but nothing more. Meantime Coffee Porter, however, was really good with a delicious ash-dry bitterness and coffee taste that has that nice sweet undertones. Its nose matches the mouth, with coffee, cocoa and ash. It has a medium-to-full body that’s easy to drink and smooth coffee texture – delicious!

Finally, Skull Splitter from Orkney Brewery that’s located in Orkney Island – a place that’s on our destination map because of the wind and the whisky and, well, the beer. Up to this date all the Orkney Brewery’s beers I’ve drank were in the awesome-amazing spectrum. Sadly, especially because of its name that gives the beer automatic awesomeness points, Skull Splitter is rather dull. Too sweet – cookie-candy in the nose, sweet, a little stale with alcoholic bitter undertones in the mouth. It’s drinkable – . 8.5% and goes down quickly, but there’s nothing amazing (or, ignoring the name, awesome) about this beer and it’s just too alcoholic. Maybe I just don’t get the Scotch Ale thing?

Poperings Hommelbier, Meantime India Pale Ale, Meantime Coffee Porter and Orkney Skull Splitter were beers #261, #262, #263 and #264 I must Try Before I Die

Nothing’s rotten in the Rothaus.



Today’s post reviews 2 out of the 3 beers that Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus has in the book. Both bottles were bought in Berlin, some 600 kilometers from the southwestern location of the brewery. Teva Boy’s sister (in-law?) brought Rothaus Hefeweizen from her Berlin getaway. It pours cloudy light orange with a frothy white head and smells of banana, some peach, yeast, a little clove and bubblegum – quite predictable considering its kind -and it tastes sweet and a little sour, but mainly sweet. Chewy texture, full body, fruity finish. Nice and enjoyable, lovely springtime beer – and we drank it during springtime, it’s just that I’ve been postponing writing about it.

My Berliner friend Jenna brought Rothaus Pils Tannenz√§pfle when she was here on a holiday. I sent her a list of stuff I assumed has broader distribution and that’s one of the two she yielded. Apparently this is a Berliner hipster favourite – she told us so as well as the 1001 book that tells us¬† that the beer is a “[…] national cult brand” I dunno what it is – maybe the old fashioned label? whereas the Hefeweizen was pretty neat and fun to drink, the pils wasn’t. Wort and corn and straw/ dried grass in the nose and insignificant bitter and a little malty taste. Although the bottle was new, the beer lacked the crispiness and freshness the genre. Had I tried it in a blind taste I would’ve guessed it’s a cheap, contract-brewed pale lager.

not as pretty

not as pretty

The third rep. from the brewery is a M√§rzen – I’d be curious to taste it even if it didn’t star in the book.¬† Baden-W√ľrttemberg – we need to visit there. We’ll wait til the Israeli middle-class and its bratty offspring find another summer travel destination though.

Til we make it there, Rothaus Hefeweizen and Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle are beers #259 and #260 I Must Try Before I Die.

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