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 “APA”

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.

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English Beer Recap part 1.

Over the past year and a half I’ve accumulated a bunch of English beers I drank (along with some Welsh, Manx and Scottish ales). Some were shared by friends, others I shared with friends, plenty The Secret Agent and I drank in our real-ale trail in Yorkshire, in September 2013. I’ve been meaning to write about this trip but cannot seem to get to it. I procrastinate, beer adds on, and it’s freaking me out. The only way to take control over the British beer list is, well, a recap. I will try to write about all the cask ales we drank in the trip together, but for starts, here’s a list of stuff we shared and shared with us at tastings here in Israel.

Gales Prize Old Ale, wax-sealed and corked, brewed in 2001 and shared in Marched 2014 by the Actuary. Pours muddy brown. Cherry Heering and chocolate milk aroma. Vinous, sour taste, full-bodied, no carbonation, sourish finish. It was interesting to taste, but I wouldn’t be able to finish a whole bottle by myself, even a 275ml. one.

I shared a bottle of Batmen’s Combined Harvest at a tasting. Not sure how I got the bottle, I guess it was shipped from the US. Pours Murky honey-brown, with a fruity, oxidized and some cardboard aroma, oxidized fruity taste with some honey. Medium-bodied, no carbonation and sweetish finish. Something went wrong along the way, that’s for sure – manufacturing? storage?

We definitely brought a bottle of Marston’s Old Empire from our trip. I remember getting it at a supermarket. Nice skunkiness in the nose, Bitter skunkiness in the mouth with grainy undertones. Slightly carbonated, light-bodied, herbal finish. Nice, in its particular skunky way. I kinda liked it.

St. Austell Tribute, it’s another one we brought and shared at a tasting in the training pub in my old work place. Clear golden. A little fruity hoppiness and limestone in the nose, stale bitter taste – like English bottled beer. Light body, slightly malty and dry finish. A decent bitter, for sure.

Also from St. Austell brewery is Proper Job, shared by Sailor Tom. A fairly decent APA that pours clear dark gold with white wave. Honey hoppiness, floral aroma. Bitter, slightly dry with fruity undertones. Mildly carbonated, sweetish hoppy finish.

Finally, Thornbridge Hall Bracia – REL, The Actuary and The Dead Swedish Girl brought it together, maybe from Rome, and it’s a kick ass beer! Black with tan head. Wine, ink and gouache paint aroma, inky, bitter, slightly dry and slightly roasty in the mouth, full body, sleek, light carbonation and a little roasty finish.

 

Gales Prize Old Ale, Bateman’s Combined Harvest, Marston’s Old Empire, St. Austell Tribute and Proper Job and Thorbbridge Hall Bracia are beers #388, #389, #390, #391, #392 and #393 I Must Try Before I Die. Getting closer to 400!

Break The Spell

It’s been over a month since my last post here, and ages since the last post in beerdrinking. We flew to England. Traveled in towns and villages, following CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide book and App. Attended a Real Ale festival in York. Drank 125 different beers and ciders over the course of six days. Returned home to madness. Campaign, work-related bar crawls, no time to eat or sleep or see loved ones. Crashing on Friday night – our weekend – after a long day of phone calls and emails going back and forth – Tel Aviv – Paris, Paris – Dublin, London and New York somewhere in-between. Typing and being creative were the last things on my mind. I just wanted to sleep.

The campaign is finally up and like a teenage groupie I find myself driving ‘unnecessarily’, ‘accidentally’ bumping into ‘my’ outdoor ads. Yup, I am THIS lame. And now I have two weekends to rest before flying to an incentive trip with dozens of bar and restaurant owners from all over the country and writing business reviews and preparing corporate visits and whatnot. It’s a chance to recap, train the fingertips to type and the mind to focus on my things, my home-grown passion. I wanna write about the Real Ale Trail. However, we haven’t edited the photos and I haven’t read my notes from the trip yet. And since our return I attended two tastings and drank stuff from The Book and tonight there’s another tasting and more Book beers and if I don’t cover whatever has been consumed over the past two weeks the world will fall apart! Won’t it?

So, The weekend after we returned The Secret Agent and I attended an extensive tasting. One session, 21 beers. I shit you not. We contributed 3 bottles to this session:

Surly Coffee Bender with black pepper, coffee and vanilla aroma and delicate coffee sourness – derived from  cold-pressing the beer in ground coffee beans and results in a tasty, fun drink; Mill Street Coffee Porter grabbed by my Excellent Little Brother on a business trip to Toronto, where coffee is also very dominant, both in the mouth and in the nose, but a bit drier and roastier than the previous one and North Coast Brother Thelonious, A big Belgian beer that holds 9.3% abv and adorns a beautiful label. It’s a spicy one: fruity, nutty, raisins, clove and cinnamon in the nose, very fruity, sweet and slightly alcoholic taste and a sweet fruity finish. Still, despite the high abv. and its Belgianness, it wasn’t a tough drink.

The following week I drove REL and The Actuary (who as I typing this are now ticking and rating in Rome’s craft beer festival) to Baseball Tom’s sunlit bachelor pad in the ‘burbs. We watched Brew Dogs and Brewmasters and tasted beer like Yona Yona Ale that Tom brought back from Thailand, a Japanese APA. It was a pretty ugly beer – filled with weird floaties, with peach and toffee aroma and sweet toffee taste. I didn’t feel the  cascade hops or anything like that – something happened to the content of the can before we opened it. Another APA we drank in the occasion was Three Floyds Alpha King which was pretty good: I’ve had the bottle for quite some time and while its hoppiness started to fade, but soft, orangey bitter taste and a smooth, citrusy finish indicated its previous awesomeness.

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Now off to rest for an hour, before heading out to another tasting.

These were beers #303, #304, #305, #306 and #307 I Must Try Before I Die. More to come tonight.

10 minutes catching up – 4 beers

I’m always, always behind with this blog. Got no choice but jot down laconic entries like this one.

Rogue Juniper Pale Ale is an APA that’s brewed with an addition of whole juniper berries. It is cloudy blond in colour and smells of juniper, honey and some nuts. The taste is pleasingly bitter with notes of nettle. This is a smooth, mildly carbonated and medium-bodied beer. Our bottle was a little ’tired’, but the drink was still nice.

Small Craft Warning, brewed by Clipper City and marketed under the brand Heavy Seas Beer is a high-volume lager/pils  that holds 7%abv and marketed as “Uber Pils – a pilsner style bock lager.” It has a faint floral-honey aroma, s well as a little tropical fruit that I can’t name. The taste is alcoholic and sweet with a little honey. It has a syrupy texture for a lager, medium body and an alcoholic finish. Not a great beer.

Great Divide Hibernation Ale is one of my favourite beer names. Ideally we would have tasted it in the dead of winter in front of an episode of Game of Thrones, but in real life we tasted it in the end of the short Israeli spring. This Old Ale style beer has a beautiful ruby red colour, wine, deep berry and caramel aroma, sweet taste in an alcoholic sort of way, full body, no carbonation and an alcoholic finish. Other than the name, the best think about this beer is its looks. Too bad. I loved Great Divid’s Oak Aged Yeti.

Last beer for today is Zonker Stout by Snake River from Wyoming: sweet chocolate raisins aroma, and a taste that begins roasty and then becomes rich, chocolate drink-like that’s followed by more roastiness. Full body, mild carbonation, roasty finish and very enjoyable.

Of the 4 beers in this short list – I recommend Zonker Stout. The rest are passable.

These were beers #245, #246, #247 and #248 I Must Try Before I Die. Gonna cross the 25% line soon!

Bye Bye Brewdoggie

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This is the last mandatory Brewdog entry here in this beer blog. Over the past year+ this blog’s been online we drank stuff from this all-too-hyped, ever innovative Scottish brewery in many occasions, the most memorable of which was a thorough Brewdog tasting that included goodies such as Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Abstrakt 08. This brewery has 4 representatives in the book and in the first few months of this blog we drank 3 of them. Last October friends brought me the missing bottle and we kept it for the right opportunity. We returned from Romania with three bottles and decided to open all 4 in one meeting. When I shared my plan with The Beer Greek, he told me I should get in touch with Maor of Herzl Beer (who is in the process of opening a licensed, rebranded brewery in Jerusalem in like a month from now – yay!); he had some new bottles someone bought for him. Maor was kind enough to join our Brewdog-focused tasting and we were happy to have him over. Sadly, The Beer Greek’s kids were sick and we sure felt his absence.

Here are the beers we sampled:

Dead Pony Club is a pretty awesome American Pale Ale. Very aromatic and citrusy, in the mouth and the nose alike. It feels juicy and it kinda is, with only 3.8% abv. It’s a great summer beer, if Scotland even needs one.

El Dorado is from the brewery’s IPA Is Dead series of single hop brews. I both smelled and tasted mint, something quite unusual. Other than mint I sensed tropical aroma and piney taste. With a light, lager-like body, this also can be a summery thirst-quencher.

Barrel Aged 7.7 Lager is a 7.7% abv. that’s well, aged in barrels. Is this a version of the 77 Lager? Sounds like, although 77 is a standard 4.9% abv. beer and a really good one, too. The Barrel Aged one isn’t. Wine and raisins in the nose, sweetish petrol in the mouth. Medium body, very fizzy, long, white wine finish. It’s just not working, OK?

The Secret Agent and I drank Dogma in Basel last winter. It was good the first time we tried it and it was good on the second time around too.

Libertine Black Ale is a kick-ass name for a kick-ass beer, a rich, interesting black IPA. Dark purple with beige head, slightly smoky aroma and also bears liquor, chocolate and withered flowers. It tastes bitter, smoky and a little salty and has a smoky finish, full body and very mild carbonation. What more can one ask for?

From the back of Dr. Troubles’ fridge came Bashah, a retired Brewdog-Stone collaboration that was bottled in 2009 and resulted in an American Strong Ale that’s blacker than black and smells of liquor and a little iodine.  It tastes very dry and bitter, has full and heavy body, and smooth texture that ends in a long, dry, liquor-like finish. I liked it, yes I did.

We opened a bottle of Paradox Smokehead that many if not all of us drank before but it is one of those beers I can never get tired of but the highlight of the evening, mission-wise at least was of course Brewdog Tokyo*, an Imperial Stout of 18.2% abv. With this high volume, drinking alone is not even an option. This brew, flavoured with jasmine and cranberry and aged on French toasted oak chips is a sipper. A sipper that after sipping I felt a slight regret for being impatient and not aging it for several years. This is a cloudy-to-opaque muddy brown beer with dark tan head. When I first sniffed my sample I smelled smoke and cranberry but then came lots of fruit, jasmine tea and then – ink. It is a heavy beer, sweet, a little alcoholic, liquor-like and perhaps a little soy tasting. Its texture is syrupy and smooth, full-bodied and non-carbonated. Complex and very digestif-y.  If you can get a hold on a bottle – buy it cos its worth it. Just be wiser and keep it for a few years, ok?

Tokyo* (spelled Tokio* in our edition) is beer #232 I Must Try Before I Die. Bye Bye Brewdog, til next time 🙂

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.

 

Put On Your Topee

Exotica and porcelain friends by Fugi Naim

Exotica and porcelain friends by Fugi Naim

We drank these two beers from Thornbridge Brewery on the same tasting. Troubles and The Beer Greek brought them – they were both on (separate) business trips to Greater London lately, and got a hold on bottles from this 8 years old brewery from the heart of England, some miles south west of Sheffield. Their names and styles put you right in an exotic mood that makes my beer drinking self smile and my culturally aware self frown all at once: Thornbridge Jaipur is an India Pale Ale and Thornbridge Kipling is defined by the brewery as South Pacific Pale Ale, but Ratebeer classifies it as an APA so so will I. The former has a hazy, light golden colour and smells hoppy and malty at once with piney dominance. It has a stingy, bitter taste, great fizz and piney finish. The latter pours clear golden and smells of grass, lemon peel and a little malt. It tastes lemony, bitter and has apparent maltiness in the mouth as well. It is light-bodied and refreshing.

Both are great beers and I’m glad I’d two friends sharing cups and cakes good beer with me.

Thornbridge Kipling and Thornbridge Jaipur are beers #174 and #175 I Must Try Before I Die.

American Classics

Between now and the third week of March this blog will be all about Getting Things Done. I’ve written before that I drink more than I write – that’s the way it should be when it comes to beer blogging – but this results in an undesired lag of dozens of beers. Why the third week of March? Because we’re going on a holiday and when we return we might want to write about our holiday beer experience.

I’m starting with beers from three breweries that gained a fair coverage by the editors of 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You die: Victory Golden Monkey is the 4th and last Victory beer in the book; There are 6 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. beers in the book. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the 4th I write about; Out of the 5 representatives of Anchor Brewing Co., this entry that records Liberty Ale tasting notes covers 80% of them. Also, besides what I blog about, I have drank a few more releases from each of these breweries. Their availability and credibility makes them perfect nominates for well-meaning friends and relatives who want to gift you with craft beer from their visit in the and that’s fine with me. Whereas these three breweries are not the first you turn to when searching for innovative, extreme drinks, they do what they do pretty well.

I had two bottles of Victory Golden Monkey. First one was weird-tasting. It was probably an old bottle. Second was much nicer. That’s a heavy, Belgian-style beer, 9.5% abv. heavily spiced with coriander, caraway and orange blossom and a little alcoholic.

The Beer Master brought us a can of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from his trip to GABF last fall. Ignoring aesthetics, cans do good to beer. They are lighter to pack and immune to sunlight and that’s important in a place like Israel. This is a hazy amber beer filled with hops: pine in the nose, soft bitter taste and a long lasting hoppy finish.

Heavily Cascaded Anchor Liberty Ale is another drinkable and fun APA. Citrus, mainly orange, in the nose (I also spotted sour bubblegum) and simple, crisp bitterness in the mouth. You don’t need more than that to enjoy beer, do you?

So… Victory Golden Monkey,  are beers #168, #169 and #170 I Must Try Before I Die. Will there be 200 by Mid March?

 

Another recap, oh no!

It’s this time of the year again, the end of the semester and the realization that unless I wake up – literally – I’ve been developing narcolepsy, I swear! –  doomsday is near. Between sleep, work, procrastination and study, I get to drink beer but not to write about my imbibing adventures. Thus, here’s another long list of cool stuff I drank and ticked.

I’m glad I got to drink Stone Smoked Porter again. I actually tried it in a blind tasting that took place in the winter, but the listing in the 1001 book went under the radar. I have a thing for smoke and perhaps because I knew what I was drinking I liked it better. Context is a huge thing and it’s stupid to ignore or deny its existence. So, smoke, wood and a little peat aroma, soft smokey bitter taste, Bitter, alcoholic finish, medium body, soft carbonation. How can this go wrong? It can’t.

I tried to score a bottle of Fuller’s Vintage Ale from my colleague, The Witch from Zamość. She took her son on a trip to London last April and I provided her with a list of bottle I assumed are widely-distributed. She looked for Fuller’s Vintage, shopkeepers looked at her, puzzled, and her search was cut by a sprained ankle. Small batches of this beer have been produced annually since 2005, with the recipe slightly changing each time. A fine beer it was, that 2010 vintage.  Pours reddish nutmeg, cloudy with a white head. Berry, honey and cherry aroma and a bitter, somewhat dry taste. Body is medium, finish is malty and carbonation is soft. Perhaps next time  The Witch from Zamość visits the British capital I’ll get a newer batch (hint hint).

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale comes in a can which is cool. An APA, it pours clear and golden and has a delicate peach, flower and citrus aroma. The beer is very bitter, but rather soft and not dry. Body is light and finish is strong and bitter. Not bad at all.

Pilsener is not what people seek after when shopping for beer in the US. We tend to look for IPA’s or heavy stuff like imperial stout or sour ales, but since I’m on a mission, I take what I can. Since the mission called for Stoudt’s Pils, I got a hold on a bottle and shared with the gang.  The beer pours murky pale golden with white film and barley, flowers, honeysuckle aroma. It’s a really, really light beer. So light that it hardly has any taste at all. Then, suddenly, it becomes toasty. Texture is smooth, finish is light. I liked this beer. I wonder whether I would’ve liked it if was shared by someone else. Our tasting buddies weren’t too crazy about it.

When the Beer Greek flew to a beer marketing conference in Copenhagen, I asked him to fetch some bottles from the book. And so he did, on the last few hours before the flight home. One of those beers was Little Korkny Ale from Nørrebro Brewery. Barley wine with a deep sweet heavy taste (and cherry), and aroma that bears wine, yeast, a little alcoholic, berry and dried figs. It’s a heavy beer, with a long finish  that ends with cherry. One bottle is sure to put you to sleep.

Back in May we drank Goose Island Sofie, a mildly-sour Saison. Matilda is a Belgian ale, Sofie’s sister. Matilda is also sour, but whereas Sofie leans towards sweetness, Matilda bears some bitterness instead.

Not only Belgian-style ales did we drink. We finally opened De Struise Black Albert, a bottle bought in a small, shady shoppe in Brugge last October. In fact, this is the beer that inspired my 1001 Project. Last year, while ticking beers in the Hebrew blog on an almost-daily basis, I stumbled upon this blog, an attempt to follow the book that apparently went on hiatus after 133 beers. I hope they get back to writing, though. Beer #125 was Black Albert, which label stunned me. I had it on my mind on our trip and without knowing anything about De Struise I bought a bottle, in case I’d embark on this journey. This is one great beer: black, opaque, alcoholic and somewhat burnt. Wood and sweetness in the mouth. I’m so glad there are more De Struise beers down the road. It’s a great to have an excuse to hunt them.

Bear Republic is another brewery we sampled two beers from within a month. Pete Brown Tribute Ale was rich and awesome, with a beige head, aroma that reminded me of soy sauce, plum and chocolate and overall sweetness in the mouth. Bear Republic Racer 5, the brewery’s IPA, is fun and bears both citrus and pine in the nose. It’s a bitter beer, of course, but its bitterness is soft, almost muddy. It has a citrus finish, and hoppy aftertaste.

2011 edition of Anchor Brewing Company  Our Special Ale was alright. I can’t compare it to earlier editions, but the bottle we shared contained murky brown liquid with a yellow-beige head, wintery aroma of sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and clove, and dry, sweet taste that wasn’t too amazing.

Who brought a bottle of Brewdog’s Paradox Jura? Isle of Arran and Smokehead has just been tasted not too long ago. Jura must be my favourite though. Smoke, peat, salt in the nose, woody, bitter, metallic in the mouth, oily texture and smokey finish. Doubt I could drink this regularly, but it’s a wonderful sipping beer for special occasions, and a good reminder that last time I’ve been to Scotland was 12 years ago. About time to return, isn’t it?

I’m reaching 1000 words so I’ll stop here. Racer 5, Our Special Ale, Black Albert, Stoudts Pils, Little Korkny Ale, Fuller’s Vintage, Stone Smoked Porter, Dale’s Pale Ale and Matilda are beers #76, #77, #78, #79, #80, #81, #82, #83 I must try before I die.

TBC.

Lost in a Fantasy

What do you think about when you read the phrase Fire Island? I had to go to Wikipedia to learn that this is a real place in New York State, adjacent to Long Island, pop. 292 + lots of tourists. Pop. 292 settled well with my imagination. In my mind’s eye I also saw Douglas fir and pine trees, flying fish and velvet, fire-like sunsets. The beautiful illustrated labels that adorn the bottles of Fire Island Beer Company tell a story not far off from my imagination. Deer, sunsets, a lighthouse and a paddle boat that whisper serenity.

We received Fire Island Lighthouse Ale and Fire Island Red Wagon IPA from Beer of the Month Club and drank them both quite some time ago. Both were pretty good. Lighthouse is a light-bodied APA with honey, citrus and ripe pear aroma, and bitter taste with a hint of sweetness that gets better as you drink. I liked Red Wagon IPA better. The malty-sweet-candy aroma indicates that the beer was past its prime, like many other beers that we get via mail order but I liked it nevertheless. Its taste, however, was crisp and hoppy-bitter and the aftertaste was light.

Li’l SIL goes to school in Stony Brook, which is a 40 minutes drive from the Fire Island Ferry dock. When we fly over to the US next year (hopefully, hopefully, fingers crossed), I think I’d like to include a visit there in my itinerary. We shall see.

And look at the brewery’s bewautiful website: Fire Island Beer Co.

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