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 category “American Beer”

6-months planning

A very intense week came to a sweet end with booking our plane tickets to the US. We’re only taking off in April, but the itinerary is pretty much set: Beer, cocktails and niece in Southern California, cocktails, beer and nephew in New York, deep south, cocktails, beer and bourbon in between. Early booking means low airfare and six months to dream and plan. Next thing I did after closing the Expedia tab was to google map Port Brewing (10 minutes from Escondido and the niece), and the Bruery (tap room is open til late – we can drop by on our way from the airport, if we’re not too knackered.) Both brew Book Beers, of course, only Orchard White by the latter is now retired. Another reason to live forever, or better, drop this mission. Or maybe, check out the second edition of this stupid publication.

Booking is a good excuse to recap Californian beers I drank and haven’t blogged about yet. Like Lost Abbey 10 Commandments, that’s brewed in the above-mentioned Port Brewing. I had it in late December 2013 (and I’m afraid that’s not the worst backlog in this blog), from friends who brought it back from a beer festival in Italy, if I’m not mistaken. 10% abv. of Belgian Strong Ale. My sample of this 2012 vintage bottle poured murky brown and had a dark tan head. I smelled raisins, hyssop and turmeric,and after a while – a little alcohol. It tasted very fruity, dark and heavy, with a little alcohol in the mouth too. Full-bodied, Belgian-like, deep, spicy finish. Very complex, heavy and difficult to drink.

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Another old one is Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale that we shared at a tasting at The Dancing Camel pub in Florentine, Tel Aviv, in December 2013. Wintery IPA with 6.8% abv. Last time I checked the empty bottle was still adorning the bathroom over there. Clear amber. Slightly spicy, christmas cake aroma, bitter, hoppy, fruity taste, medium-bodied, a little burnt finish. Nice. – these are my tasting notes for this beer.

REL, Dead Swedish Girl and The Actuary, that brought the 10 Commandments, also shared FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout – from FiftyFifty Brewing. Looking at the date it was sampled, they must have brought it back from Copenhagen Beer Celebration. Eclipse is an imperial stout that aged for ~7 months in oak barrels and  released once a year, in December. Our purple wax-sealed sample was aged in Elijah Craig barrels and was pretty awesome: black with tan head. A little vinous, wood, vanilla. Deep sweet taste and a little spicy. Smooth, syrupy, no carbonation, a little alcoholic aftertaste.

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Next, Green Flash Le Freak – 9.2% Belgian Strong Ale from San Diego. I loved this one. Hazy gold-amber with white head. Fresh, hoppy aroma, grapefruit and pine. Grassy, skunky green taste. Medium body, relatively carbonated, hoppy and floral finish.

Another Californian Imperial Stout is Moylans Ryan Sullivans. we bought the bottle in Høkeren, a cute bottle shop in Copenhagen, in January, because there is no better way to celebrate one’s birthday in a cold and windy city filled with beautiful people. We shared the bottle at Mikkeller & Friends with our ratebeer/untapped buddies Ruben and Dorthe. Black, with a big tan head. Dark chocolate and espresso aroma, rich bitterness, coffee and a hint of sourness in the mouth, full body, very bitter finish, no carbonation. Nothing experimental here, just a nice and solid imperial stout.

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It was Teva Boy who shared The Bruery Saison Rue in early 2014. Quite awesome and heavy on alcohol saison – 8.5% here. Cloudy amber with white head. Bretty, fruity, apple, some toffee and pepper aroma, mildly sour but very drinkable – a little alcoholic too. Full body, slightly alcoholic finish. Very good.

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I believe I had Russian River Supplication sour ale on more than one occasion, but my tasting notes are from a tasting at Teva Boy, of a bottle shared by Sparrow Brewery’s owner and brewmaster Dror, from February 2013(!) Pours clear-to-hazy rusty with white ring. Apple vinegar, air freshener, rose-water aroma, delicate sour taste. Medium body, very fizzy, ciderish finish. I gave it 3.3/5 – that’s around my average rating. I wonder how much I’d give it today.

This ends the Californian backlog. Lots more to drink from The Golden State – the ones from the book that are still available and hundreds more. We have only 5 or 6 days in SoCal before heading to Austin – we’re gonna work hard.

Lost Abbey 10 Commandments, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout, Green Flash Le Freak,  Moylans Ryan Sullivans, The Bruery Saison Rue, Russian River Supplication, are beers #453, #454, #455, #456, #457, #458, and #459 I must Try Before I Die (and thank you Teva Boy!)

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August Recap

Been quiet over the past couple of months. That’s because I’ve been posting more in my Hebrew blog and at the Sanedrink website (Hebrew alert: bar reviews and interviews with local brewers, as long as an MA thesis.) Actually, I’ve been lazying around for the better part of August, gathering energy for the new and exciting phase in my career, that is joining The Milk & Honey Distillery team – the first craft distillery in Israel.
I knew that joining the team was the right thing to do on my first day. I opened the fridge, wanted to see if they got soy milk by any chance – dunno why I did, cos no one else is vegan there – only to find out that the only thing in the fridge are a couple of dozen bottles of beers that Tomer, our head distiller, brewed for us to drink. Fun!

Then came September, with holidays that never ended, followed by the world’s most annoying exam that took place yesterday – keep your fingers crossed for me, so I won’t have to repeat that tedious Corporate Law course.

As usual, I continue my trip down the 1001 list, dedicated this entry to the month of August, which was quite fruitful, beer-wise. Teva Boy’s rare appearance at a tasting brought a bunch of bottles he brought from Italy, two of which were lagers: Ducato VIÆMILIA is a kellerbier, with a clear-to-hazy blond colour and a white head. Sweet and a little malty aroma, malt and grain and a little vegetal taste. Light-to-medium body, malty, grainy and warm finish. Lambrate Montestella is a lager from Milan, hazy blond with a thick white head. Grainy and toasty aroma, bitter, toasty, some minerals in the mouth. Medium body, slightly bitter finish, quite carbonated. Nice.

 

Next is 32 Via dei Birrai Oppale, an Italian Belgian ale that comes in a pretty bottle, and is surprisingly light and refreshing. Hazy-cloudy blond with a white head. Fruity, pear and peach aroma. Sweet, fruity, cantaloupe taste. Soft bitterness, soft carbonation, fruity finish. Brùton Stoner is Belgian Strong Ale with 7.5% abv. Hoppy, tropical, pineapple and mango aroma, sweet taste, a little oxidized, honey and fruit. Full, syrupy, mildly carbonated, somewhat bitter finish.

rokporterAt the same tasting we shared a bottle of Nils Oscar Rökporter, a smoked porter I got from a Summer Secret Santa Swap on Ratebeer. Very dark brown-black with a tan head. Smoky, sausage, chocolate and smoked keifli snack aroma, smoky, a little bitter, and roasty taste, followed by onion. Full body, long, roasty and smoky finish. Smoked is my favourite style, if you can call it a style, as smoky notes can be found in plenty of beer styles, and Rokporter is in my top 10 smoked beers, according to my stats.

A week later, at Max’s place, we shared a can I got in another trade, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils. This Pennsylvanian pilsener  must’ve been decent when it was fresh, but sadly my can wasn’t. Clear pale gold with a white head. Old grain and yellow grass aroma, old bitterness and some hay in the mouth. Light body, bitter and a little hay finish. Stas brought a bottle of Forstner Styrian Ale from his visit to Vienna, just two weeks or so before I got there – thanks for the bottle and for all the tips! Brown ale, 6.2% abv. that are a wee bit heavy for Tel Aviv’s August. Murky dark brown with a frothy beige head. Nutty aroma with a little caramel. Nutty and a little bitter taste. Medium body, fizzy,  bitter and nutty finish. Would’ve liked it more in October, for sure, but it was quite alright still.

 

Later in August, Tomer from Ratebeer hosted a tasting for his 50th birthday. Plenty of people, so we shared two big bottles: Jämtlands Heaven, that for a schwartzbier was quite heavenly, courtesy of the above-mentioned Secret Santa Swap. also from Sweden, it pours very dark brown, and topped with a beige film. Malty and a little dry toast notes in the nose lead to  dry, bitter, toasty and a little rye spiciness in the mouth. Medium body, fine fizz, dry, malty bitter finish. We also shared in that tasting a bottle of Montegioco Demon Hunter, an Italian Belgian Strong Ale that my Excellent Little Brother bought in New York when I was in Paris last year. It comes wrapped in a crepe’ paper, all fancy and stuff, but I really don’t understand why it’s in The Book, as there’s nothing remarkable or unusual here. Murky honey-brown with white film. Honeydew, yeast, a little spicy, perfume-like aroma, sweet and yeasty taste with some honey. Medium-to-full body, some plastic and soft fizz.

Ducato VIÆMILIA, Lambrate Montestella, 32 Via dei Birrai Oppale,  Brùton Stoner, Nils Oscar Rökporter, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Forstner Styrian Ale,  Jämtlands Heaven, Montegioco Demon Hunter are beers #444, #445, #446, #447, #448, #449, #450, #451, #452 I Must Try Before I Die. That’s 9 Book beers in the month of August. Not bad!

4 in 1

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The night before I flew to my Austro-Hungarian holiday, we’ve been to a tasting at the training room in my old workplace. There were 4 Book Beers in this tasting, a rare thing these days because it’s harder to get a hold on the remaining several hundreds, and moreover, people are more thrilled looking for new and fancy beers than the ones in the book. Cannot blame them really. However, The Beer Greek was kind enough to buy a bottle of Timmermans Framboise Lambic, that everybody, including him, and probably including me, has already drank, as it was distributed in Israel in the past. It’s a lambic with some additives, that pours clear-to-hazy reddish-brown and smells  sugary and of raspberry syrup. Tastes sourish, lots of fruity sweetness. Light body, soft fizz, long sweet finish. Tastes like children’s syrup.

Sailor Tom, who’s been spending most of his time in Ireland now, and always brings cool stuff, shared a bottle of Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale and by that I finished all Irish beers from The Book. Yay! Not only that, but about a month early, Sailor Tom brought Northern Ireland’s representative – Clotworthy Dobbin. Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is actually an APA, but the bottle was probably a wee bit old, and the main motif of my tasting notes was “old hops”. Not too bitter, on the fruity side of things. Clotworthy Dobbin, by Whitewater brewery, was a pretty decent porter. No novelty, no gimmicks, but tasty and balanced. Sweet and nutty aroma, with a little chocolate as well. Nutty taste, slightly bitter and toasty, then sweet. Lightish body, chocolate and nutty finish.

More from the British Isles, a bottle of Exmoor Gold, a golden ale from Somerset, regionally distributed, got it from a trade. Clear golden with a white head. Paper and a little moldy aroma, sweet and old taste. Light body, stale and sweet finish. Not too amazing.

I also shared a bottle of Smuttynose’s Doppelbock, S’muttonator, that my brother got for me in California, I think. Hazy brown with a beige head. Old grapes and dark fruit aroma, sweet, dark fruit taste. Full body, very fizzy and boozy finish.

When we finished the tasting we visited the new brewery. I worked there for almost 2 years and was always too busy or stressed out to go any further from the soft drink bottling line, that was a shortcut to the canteen. So I took a picture:

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Timmermans Framboise Lambic, Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, Clotworthy Dobbin,Exmoor Gold and Smuttynose S’muttonator, are beers #439, #440, #441, #442 and #443 I Must Try Before I Die.

I need a Midas Touch

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This morning started bad, physically and emotionally. I’m running errands on the computer I wish I hadn’t, procrastinating more urgent matters. It is one of these days that shouldn’t have happened and I wish everything just turned to bright, soulless gold.

Chose to waste my time updating this blog. Opened the spreadsheet I’ve been using to track down my progress and my eyes fell on Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch, one of the brewery’s best known beers, of 9% and a story of it being made with ingredients found in 2,700-year-old drinking vessels from the tomb of King Midas. Don’t feel like getting into this right now anyway. Shared my bottle, brewed in 2012, in March 2014. Clear gold with white ring. Sweet, honey and saffron aroma, sweet honey taste with the slightest sourness. Thick, full-bodied, syrupy, flat and round. Good and complicated beer, almost as complicated as my current state.

Midas Touch is Beer #432 I Must Try Before I Die </end of self-pity>

Portering with REL.

general_washington_tavern_porterGeneral Washington’s Tavern Porter by Yards Brewery from Philadelphia is inspired by a recipe that George Washington shared with his officers during the War of Independence. Some may find it hedonistic and inappropriate, to talk beer during war-time, but here in Israel we have a long history of generals and politicians who busy themselves raping, robbing archeological finds, gambling, bribing and befriending the mob, so beer drinking in wartime is peanuts. REL brought a bottle from a trip to the US, and shared it with us. It’s a good beer. Black with tan head. Malty, slightly roasty aroma with prune and date and caramel. Quite alcoholic bitterness as well as molasses in the mouth, smooth, medium-bodied, long, caramel finish. Rich and quite tasty.

drayman_porterFrom the same trip REL also brought a bottle of Drayman’s Porter by Berkshire Brewing Company, that was even better than Yards’. Black with tan head. Dryish malty aroma, like dry toast. Also dry in the mouth, good roastiness and dark fruit. Full-bodied, mildly carbonated with roasty finish. I love me some roastiness in big, robust porters. Thanks buddy!

General Washington’s Tavern Porter and Drayman’s Porter are beers #423 and #424 I Must Try Before I Die.

Anniversary Ale Frantic

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I almost missed last week’s tasting. It was held at the Dancing Camel pub in Florentine neighbourhood and I rescheduled my bass lesson so I wouldn’t have to kill too much time between the lesson and the tasting. However, 3.5 hours before the tasting, 2 hours before the lesson, as my inner 16 year-old boy was practicing his Metallica, the alarm clock went off – I totally forgot I had a class that evening, at the university! Totally unprepared, I quickly printed out the material, cancelled the bass lesson and announced my abstinence from the tasting.

As I was sitting in my Business Strategy class, all restless, I decided to join the tasting, although an hour later than scheduled. A frantic run to the bus stop and a miraculously quick ride and there I was at the Dancing Camel, an hour later, but the guys saved us a couple of ounces to taste from the bottles already sampled.

It was worth coming, as by pure chance Stas and Vova brought a bottle of Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale – straight from The Book! They brought Firestone Walker XVIII edition, a blend of 9 of the brewery’s oak barrel-aged creations, 13% abv. American Strong Ale. Pretty big beer it is – Black, with a very boozy nose and soft spiciness of nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon. Taste is velvety, chocolatey, a little boozy and a little sweet, and also a little woodsy. Full body, no carbonation, vanilla, coffee and a little black pepper finish. Quite amazing, I’m glad I didn’t miss this tasting!

Firestone Walker Anniversary Ale is Beer #408 I must Try Before I Die.

Beer Label Galore – Wailing Wench

Just a quick note now. I’m composing a fairly detailed entry as a part of the British Beer Recap, but we kinda wanna get back to binge-watch Broadchurch Season 2, so for the time being – Middle Ages Wailing Wench, from Syracuse, New York. Had a big bottle, probably quite old by the time it reached me, shared it with friends last year. An old-school 8% abv. double IPA, that pours hazy copper with a yellowish head. Smells sweet, a little spicy, tastes sweet, with hints of bitterness. Smooth, full-body, long, sweet finish. What struck me was the label. A year later and I still cannot decide whether it’s more sexist or more tasteless or equally both.

Here, look:

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Wailing Wench is beer #403 I Must Try Before I Die. We’ll get back to real-ale fun soon. Promise.

Sour but Sweet

jolly_ichtegemRight after publishing the previous post, we rushed to a tasting with our fellow ratebeerians and untappers. It’s been a while since we all met – with The Secret Agent and I being sick, me having to study, us traveling to Spain and them – a whole bunch of them – traveling to the US for a hardcore West Coast beer tour.

For this tasting I grabbed whatever was in the fridge, taking into consideration bottle size (we were supposed to be 10 people at the tasting) and FIFO, and ended up sharing Jolly Pumpkin La Roja and Ichtegems Grand Cru, American and Belgian sour red/brown ales, respectively. Apparently La Roja was one of the first beers shared in an Israeli Ratebeer tasting, way back in 2009. I joined the website in late 2011 and we started attending tastings around that time, I think. It feels like ages, so 2009 is pretty much ancient history. Anyway, I think that Dead Swedish Girl and The Actuary liked this beer even after all these years and the thousands of beers each of them has imbibed. This Flemish beer that’s brewed in Michgen pours murky brown, and smells sour, a little lactic and of cherry yogurt. It has a sour mouthfeel and yet, one can sure taste the grain, which is pretty cool. Body’s relatively light, there’s hardly any carbonation and finish is sour, though mild and tolerable.

Ichtegems Grand Cru comes from the Belgian family-run brewery Strubbe. It is the brewery’s Oud Bruin that’s matured in oak tanks. This one also pours murky brown and smells a little vinous – I sensed grapes and some cherries. Tastes sweetish and not sour at all; it actually tastes a little like sherry – pretty cool! The beer isn’t really carbonated, it is full-bodied and has a long, sherry finish. Really nice, delicate and inoffensive.

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja and Ichtegems Grand Cru are beers #401 and #402 I Must Try Before I Die.

The Stranded Sailors

Last week Skipper Tom took us to what was meant to be a beergeek booze cruise – a 3 hour trip in the yacht, for a tasting in the middle of the sea. Alas, Poseidon had different plans for us and as soon as we left the marine the sky got cloudy and the wind got wild. We took a turn, not before the Dead Swedish Girl and the Actuary got into the sea-sickness thing, and returned to the marine. As soon as we reached the pier the sun came out but since we had the yacht to ourselves, we stayed on board, opened bags of generic snacks and bottles of beer, drank and spent a lazy morning together.

One of the beers The Secret Agent and I shared with the crew was Great Divide Hercules Double IPA. Most of the beers in that sessions were commercial and light, but as our bottle was a little old, we opted to open it despite the lightweight vibe. However, although the beer was oldish, it was rather decent. Hazy orange with white head, its aroma was rich and fruity, with a little cherry and notes of cheesecake. It tasted bitter – duh! – a little leafy with hints of sweetness, was supported by a medium body and left a long and bitter finish.

Happy Belated Birthday, Beergreek!

Happy Belated Birthday, Beergreek!

Great Divide Hercules Double IPA is beer #378 I must Try Before I Die and I hope that I’ll get to drink many beers in the middle of the sea.

Love Portion #9

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I sampled Magic Hat#9 – Fruity beer whose ingredients are not revealed – how come it’s legal anywhere? Rather strange labeling laws the US has – at an educational tasting session The Beer Greek delivered to the beer marketing and brewery teams at work. It pours clear golden,with  white head. Smell – Apricot icicle. Taste –  Apricot, a little sour in the mouth. Soft fizz, light body, long apricot aftertaste. Rather disappointing but the bottle may have been old.

Magic Hat #9 is Beer #377 I Must Try Before I Die

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