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 “Baltic Porter”

Not So Quiet on the Eastern Front

svyturys_baltas niksicko-tamno union_temno karlovacko-pivo Birra_Tirana Utenos_Porter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some (formerly) Eastern Block beers I tried and tasted – a few were traded, others were shared by good friends and some were bought here in Israel.

Birra Tirana from Albania is the first beer that appears in the country index. The woman who gave birth to the Dead Swedish Girl is a tour guide and provides us with plenty of pissy lagers and country ticks from her excursions. Birra Tirana is a European pale lager that smells like corn, wet paper and simple syrup and tastes sweet and papery – quite horrible, as you can guess.

A good trade with Marko, a Slovanian ratebeerian,  yielded a can of Karlovačko Pivo, second Croatian Beer in the book (first is Tomislav Pivo, which I blogged about exactly 2 years ago. Karlovačko Pivo smells of some hops, some butter and a little metal, tastes very oxidized and a little sweet. Light body, metallic finish. Not quite amazing, either.

Marko also sent me Union Temno Pivo and Nikšićko Tamno. The first is a great Dunkel from Slovenia. It pours Black with tan head, and has a little ash and slightly smoky aroma, with a smoked fish taste and just a little sweetness. Smooth, medium-bodied, faint, smoky finish. Very drinkable, smokey and surprisingly good. The second is a Schwartzbier from Montenegro. It smells of grain, very little roast and bread, tastes bitter, dusty and a little dry taste. Medium-going-light body and an unpleasing bitter finish. Not amazing, really.

And finally, two beers from Lithuania, that are available here in Israel, at some wine shops and supermarkets that cater to Russian consumers. Svyturys Baltas, a German-style wheat beer, pours cloudy blond with a frothy white head. It has peach and a little guava spicy aroma, and a taste that’s somewhat spicy, yeasty, bittersweet and a little tarty. Slightly light-bodied, a little too watery with some spices in the finish. There are better options for Hefe lovers here, but it’s not too bad.Utenos Porteris is Baltic Porter – a quite fine example of the style. Captain Tom shared it in the winter. It smells sweet and syrupy, like grade B maple syrup or maybe date honey. Sweetish maltiness and dried dark fruit greets the mouth. Medium-bodied, smooth-textured. Nice. A little too sweet but works just fine.


Birra Tirana, Karlovačko Pivo, Union Temno Pivo, Nikšićko Tamno, Svyturys Baltas and Utenos Porteris are Beers #370, #371, #372, #373, #374 and #375 I Must Try Before I Die. There are tons of Czech beers I need to write about, but they fall under the procrastination category.

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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.

3 Continenets, 4 Beers, 1 entry

It is time for another random list of beers tasted in a number of occasions over the past few months. Other than basic ingredients the following don’t have much in common, but whatever.

Goose Island India Pale Ale is a pretty much ass-kickin’ IPA. It is amber in colour and has a smooth, peachy aroma with some hints of grass. The taste indicates that the bottle we shared with our friends was a little old but it was still tasty – fruity and mildly bitter. Medium-bodied, fruity finish and pleasing.

5 Barrel Pale Ale from Odell Brewery that resides in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado, is the first beer in the book. It has a beautiful label that looks a little like block-print. Sadly, the beer itself didn’t stand up to the beautiful label. I believe it’s due to age but it was rather stale and tasteless. The aroma was alright though, mango and asian persimmon (also known as sharon fruit) were dominant.

Dragon Stout hails from Jamaica, a country whose rum we love. This stout is high on alcohol, 7.5%, and its recipe includes both corn syrup and sugar. The result: sticky-sweet aroma and an indistinguishable fruity sweetness in the mouth. The beer is not good and its thin body adds to the disappointment.

Sinebrychoff Porter is one of the three Finnish representatives in the book, but the only one that’s actually available outside Finland. However, its source is a Finnish beergeek that traded with the Dead Swedish Girl and Troubles. This is a decent Baltic Porter, black-bodied and tan-headed with roast, raisins and a little wood in the nose. It tastes dry, wooden and bitter and finishes roasty too. It is a decent beer .

As usual, I save the best for last. Tusker Lager is one of the worst beers I have tasted up to date. Seriously. This Kenyan Pale Lager “is best drunk for refreshment – rather than taste” says the book. Writer Tim Hampson actually admits that there’s nothing to this beer, so why must I try it before I die? To witness how shitty it is? I can sure live well without trying yet another piss-looking liquid, especially one that smells like rotten fruit and has no taste at all yet still manages to be disgusting. It has a light body and a watery finish. Now, remember the rotten fruit aroma? Apparently it was a hint to the garbage juice aftertaste. It’s a disgusting beer, I’m telling you. There’s another Tusker beer in the book: Tusker Malt Lager. I’d like to say that I’m not looking forward to drink it but shamefully I do, because beergeekness sometimes equals masochism.

Indeed, Goose Island India Pale Ale, Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale, Dragon Stout, Sinerbrychoff Porter and Tusker Lager are beers #190, #191, #192, #193 and #194 I Must Try Before I Die.

Catching Up With The Czechs.

Shachar organizes beer tours to beer countries: Belgium in the spring and Czech Republic and Germany in the fall. The lucky bastard’s work actually includes traveling to beer countries. Well, what can I say? At least to some extent one is responsible to one’s destiny, right? Anyway, he always brings beer from his trips and like the others in the beer crew, he too is granted an access to the 1001 list. Here are a bunch of stuff from that book that Shachar shared with us lately:

Chodovar Zámecký Ležák Special is a bohemian pilsener, Clear, bubbly and headless with a sweet malty aroma that bears grain and laundry detergent notes as well. It tastes bitter, metallic and a little watery. It has a light body and sweet finish and it’s far from being amazing – time and travel probably didn’t do her good.

Pardubický Porter is a baltic porter dated back to the late 19th century. It pours dark brown with tan head, has a sweet, malty, somewhat liquorish aroma. It tasted bitter and malty and has a medium body. Nothing too exciting.

Last beer for today’s entry is Svijanský Rytíř Bitter that despite its name is another pils. Not that it’s a bad thing. Quite the contrary. In the long Israeli summer few things are more enjoyable than fresh Czech pilsner slowly poured from the tap. Well, this is a bottled beer sampled in a (relatively) cold night in January. It wasn’t bad, mind you. Clear, dark golden in colour, citrus pulp, sewage and artificial banana aroma and sour taste, but in a good way, like lemon juice. Then comes malt, but for a short visit. Light body and a surprising spicy finish – I sensed some cumin.

So here we have it, 3 Czech beers, none is too amazing (or at least the bottles we put our hands on weren’t), but, well, they’re listed. Chodovar Zámecký Ležák Special, Pardubický Porter and Svijanský Rytíř Bitter are beers #176, #177, #178 I Must Try Before I Die, they say.

Last Call

Mikkeller says hi.

So… we’re flying to Switzerland for the weekend.

Ain’t the above sentence sounds, well, European? A featherlight getaway, one in a few that The Secret Agent and I take every year. Not as exciting as the tracks in Vietnam or the parties in Ibiza, but still fun and necessary break.

Of course, being Israelis who struggle for every shekel that enters our bank account, this weekend getaway is anything but obvious: we are going to The Young Gods’ show at the Rote Fabrik, a silver jubilee of their first album. Needless to say, we plan to cram the weekend with as many beer tastings and hunting as possible, although neither Basel nor Zürich seem like big beer cities (you can buy  Mongolian beer there  and we know enough people who consider this fact a good enough reason to visit a town but still…).

Before heading to the Land of Expensive Brews, we stopped in Jaffa, at REL’s parents’ lovely apartment, for a short tasting in Riedel glasses, with a smaller group than usual and a smaller variety of beer than usual. Yet, there was a variety. We brought 4 beers from the book and Teva Boy, a lucky bastard who has just returned from a business travel to Copenhagen, provided two more listed beers.

We started the tasting with Boag, James Boag’s Premium Lager. A mediocre lager that traveled from Tasmania to Tel Aviv via New York, and spent too much time in metal containers for its own good. I find it hard to believe that there was anything special about this beer when it’s fresh. Apparently there was a clash of kings between the Late Michael Jackson to Boag’s brewery owner regarding the nature of Australian beer. You may call it hubris, but as opposed to The Beer Hunter, I cannot praise this generic pale lager.

Next followed Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor that Alma7 brought back from her visit to Bruges and Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, both from breweries I appreciate, both I was looking forward to drink.Unfortunately, both were rather disappointing. You’d expect a beer named Hopsinjoor to be hoppy. Well, there were *some* hops in the aroma and there was *some* bitterness in the mouth, but the general feel of this Belgian Stong Ale was of yeast. It’s an OK beer, but I find it a case of false advertising. Blanche de Chambly was disappointing in a different level. A Belgian-style white beer/ witbier/ wheat beer this one’s supposed to be, but instead of bold coriander and citrus aroma and taste, we drank a delicate, almost tasteless, peach-coloured and peach smelling brew that was very drinkable but that’s about it. There’s nothing to this beer besides drinkability.

The one good beer we shared was Green Flash West Coast IPA. Its mild skunkiness can be attributed to age, but I can live with that. Piney hoppiness, green, grassy bitterness and light-to-medium body.

Other than the 4 bottles we brought, we should thank Teva Pharmaceuticals for sending Teva Boy to try out machinery in Denmark. He brought a bottle of recently retired Nørrebro Bryghus Bombay Pale Ale. As the name indicates that’s an IPA. A retired beer, it’s waaaay past its prime. The one we shared was skunky and watery and smelled of yeast, malt and cleaning detergant. What a shame.

[Edited to add:

We actually drank Nørrebro Bombay Pale Ale (Økologisk) which is a new, all-organic version of ye olde BPA, launched last November. This makes it even sadder that the beer was off. Thanks, DSG, for yet another correction.]

Luckily, the other bottle Teva Boy shared, Limfjord Dark Porter, a baltic porter with an unattractive label, was superb. Roasty, woody, a little port and fenol in the nose, apparent barrel in the mouth and all in all an interesting and good beer.

To sum up this tasting, no heights but not true lows. Just beers  #142, #143, #144, #145, #146 and #147 I Must Try Before I Die.

Caring is Sharing

Last Passover holiday I created a Google document to help me follow the 1001 beer list and be a little more organized, a challenge to ADD me. Other than crossing out the stuff I drank and wrote about, it helps me keeping tabs with our home-stash, orders and the state of the local beer market, all colour-coded. When cooperative  friends and family fly abroad or come to visit from overseas, I copy items from the list for guidance, lest they bring something we’ve already drank or worse – bottles that are available here.

When Teva Boy announced that he’s flying to Teva’s manufacturing plant in Croatia, he asked if there’s anything he should bring from the visit. That’s how I got to taste Tomislav Pivo, a 7.3% abv. Baltic Porter. It’s an ok beer, black in colour, aroma wine, raisins and those wine-filled chocolates that in our part of the world were a popular treat among older relatives in the early 80’s and a sweet, a little metallic, malty taste. Its mild carbonation and medium body made Tomislav rather easy to drink despite the high alcoholic content.

The local ratebeerians asked to see the list, rerardless of any particular travel plans so I shared the file with them. The file brought up some interesting finds, like Business travel was, I think, a one-time gig for Teva Boy, but for Troubles it’s a routine and a focal point for his (Hebrew) blog. His job sends him to places and he explores local beer cultures for the rest of us to drool over.  Last year he spent some time in Germany and of course, brought back bottles. Upon looking at the list his eyes met the words Störtebeker Schwarzbier – he was planning to drink the bottle on his own, assuming that there isn’t much interest among the tasters for yet another lager (that isn’t a nasty pale lager from an obscure country, that is. We looooove those!). It’s a decent beer from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a Northeastern Bundesland. Despite the name it’s colour is dark purple or so it seemed in the darkness of the pub where we sampled it and it smelled of raisins, ripe figs and some smoke. With a sweet, malty taste and a little dryness in the taste and finish it was a decent beer. Nothing unusual and definitely suitable to finish on one’s own, but I’m glad it was shared.

You can trust the Dead Swedish Girl, with her mighty beer obsession, to go over the list, pretty much memorize it and bring to my attention stuff that’s available here in Israel which I overlooked as well as bringing forth bottles from his personal stash. Last Sukkkot the Secret Agent and I hosted the closest thing to a dinner party we held in our 10 years of marriage. The innocent victims to the heaps of homemade vegan Mexican goodness were Dead Swedish Girl and her partner, The Living Swedish Boy, who, like the yuppies they are brought dessert (vegan Reese’s cake that rocked my world. Peanut butter and chocolate for dessert are like smoke and wood for beer!) and bottles of wine. A true yuppie would have never dared bringing the grape-based equivalent of Utenos Alus, a Lithuanian pale lager that’s on my list. I hope that the other Lithuanian representatives are better than the duller drink that reeked of sweet grape juice and rotten fruit and tasted more like commercial clear cider than beer. But hey, it’s not as if Corona would’ve matched dinner better.

some other goodies salvaged from DSG’s stuff are Speakeasy’s Big Daddy IPA that bore wonderful smells of pine and grass and some grapefruit and tasted bitter, on the verge of dry and green, as my tasting notes indicate. A real American IPA it was and quite a good one.

HandBryggeriet Norwegian Wood was an interesting find. I think she traded it with one of her Scandinavian beer pals. A homage to an old Norwegian brewing tradition, actually a law that required farm owners to produce their own ale, this honey-brown colour ale uses smoked malt and juniper leaves and branches, a combination that results in a wonderful fruity and at the same time smokey aroma and a pleasant bitter and a little roasty taste. A slightly burning sensation towards the finish makes it even better in my book.

In the last tasting she brought a bottle of Brewdog Rip Tide. Brewdog’s been featured in this blog more than once, because of the mission and also because it is one of everybody’s favourite breweries. It has 4 representatives in the book, and after Punk IPA and as many editions of Paradox as I could find, Rip Tide is the third I sample. It’s a 8% Imperial Stout with a pretty tan head on top of an opaque, black body, that smells a little metallic but also roasty and good, tastes very alcoholic, but the kind of bitter alcoholic, with hints of anise, has a full body and is softly carbonated. Definitely a good beer.

Now who’s sorting us out with a bottle of Tokyo*?

Our friends are awesome and we really try to reciprocate. There’s a tasting tonight and they’re in for an unpredictable treat.

Tomislav Pivo, Störtebeker Schwarzbier, Utenos Alos, Big Daddy IPA, Norwegian Wood and Rip Tide are beers #117, #118, #119, #120, #121 and #122 I Must Try Before I Die.

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