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 “Czech Beer”

Stuff I drank in Prague – Day 1

In January 2014 – boy, that’s almost a year and a half ago! – The Secret Agent took me to Prague for my birthday. The one good thing about being a January kid, is that airfare and accommodation are rather cheap. In return, you get frozen ovaries, but hey, there are sales that compensate for that!

We spent a weekend in a suite in the posh Mamaison hotel, right by the river and a 10 seconds walk from the Hemingway Bar. To this day I hate myself for not visiting one of the  world’s best bars that was practically around the corner. We ate lots of amazing vegan food and of course, drank lots of beer. As usual, we created google maps using Happy Cow for food reference and Ratebeer for beer, but this time, we also watched the relevant Beer Hunter episode. 20+ years after it was first aired and some of the places are still standing.

It’s been a long time, but with the help of Ratebeer and Dear Diary, here’s a log of our beer adventures in Prague.

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First His&Hers of the trip

We landed on Friday morning. After leaving our luggage at the hotel, we entered the nearest beer place, U Tří Růží, or The Three Roses Brewpub.They serve their own beer, no guest beers on tap when we were there, that were traditional Czech brews. Nice place, but not a top priority, if your schedule is tight. Our next stop was U Medvídků, a brewpub known for their X33-Beer, a 12.6% abv. doppelbock, world’s strongest lager, they claim. It was probably true once. It was unavailable on Tap or bottled when we were there, as they brew it seasonally, so instead, I opted for Budweiser Budvar Dark Tmavý Ležák, that’s (Czech) Budweizer Dark for you. Because when in Prague you drink the classics – Tankova, of course.  Very dark brown with light beige head. A little roasty and caramel aroma, slightly bitter and a little dry taste. Full body, light carbonation, sweet – a little honey finish. It was good! As for X33-Beer – Armed with references and addresses, Metalhead Cousin and his girlfriend spent Passover in Prague, and brought us a bottle. Too strong and alcoholic for my taste: hazy, fizzy brown. A little spicy and caramel aroma and a little alcoholic. Alcoholic, sugary and sweet taste. Smooth and silky, very sugary and full-bodied.

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After a short nap in the hotel we headed out to U Fleků, perhaps Prague’s most famous pub. They serve food, cater to locals and tourists alike, with a band that’s playing. We weren’t there for the very carnist menu or for the music, but for the one beer they serve there, U Fleků Flekovský Tmavý Ležák, which is considered one of the best Dunkel beers in the world, and I must agree: very dark brown with a hard beige head that leaves a pretty lace. Grainy, caramel aroma but all in all rather faint. Sweet, roasty and a little nutty taste. Smooth, medium-bodied, slightly roasty finish.

Following Michael Jackson’s footsteps, we headed toPivovarský Dům- a 2-story place (street level and basement) not too far from the center that’s known for its creative, flavourful beers. The one I tolerated the most was their Nettle beer that had a neon-green colour and really tasted of nettle and sage. Dům Štěpán Český Klasický Ležák Světlý
is a pilsner and it’s also in the book – not very true-to-style though – hazy gold with a quick dissolving white head. Malt and butter aroma, lemon/ citrusy, butter and some salt in the mouth. Medium-bodied, salted butter finish, carbonated but a little creamy too.

We then crossed the street to Nota Bene, a basement bar with plenty of Czech craft beer that did good to our tasting buds and also some imports. Found Belgian beer Piraat there, that’s also in the book, but I already blogged about it.

Our first day in Prague ended with 3 hours of sleep the night before, a short nap and 19 different beers. Miraculously, no hangover the following morning.

Budweiser Budvar Dark Tmavý Ležák, U Medvídků X33-Beer, U Fleků Flekovský Tmavý Ležák 13°, Dům Štěpán Český Klasický Ležák Světlý are beers #428, #429, #430 and #431 I Must Try Before I Die.

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Romanian Beer Adventures Pt. III: Craft Beer Bars in Bucharest

What's the time? Why, it's Beer O'clock!

What’s the time? Why, it’s Beer O’clock!

Our good friend Shmupi is an avid Foursquare user. He is also a big fan of Belgian blond ales. And he is Romanian – born, raised and with grandparents in the homeland. His Facebook updates from Beer O’clock answered the first question we asked ourselves when Family Agent started planning the trip to Romania, which is, of course – the state of craft beer in the nation. Besides following Shmupi’s check-ins we visited Ratebeer.com and thus built a short but sweet beer itinerary for Bucharest: Beer O’clock, Beer O’clock 2 and La 100 de Beri. 3 bars, conveniently located within a few meters of each other, in the city’s old town, some 1o minutes walk from our hotel. The latter prides itself with 100 beers on the menu. The former’s website counts 165. Way more modest number than Delirium Cafe’s menu, much more extensive than any bar in Israel. We figured we’d find plenty of new things to drink there without being overwhelmed. Moreover, these places focused on being beer bars and not tourist attractions, or so it seemed from Shmupi’s check-ins and the reviews we read – suit us just fine.

My fave spot on the bar - behind the taps.

My fave spot on the bar – behind the taps.

The first bar we visited was La 100 de Beri. Just like everywhere else in Romania, the place is smokers-friendly and breathers’ enemy. No proper ventilation, but there’s a spacier room in the back that has more air and is more tolerable. Several beers on tap, including hand-pumped English ales and German and Czech representatives. The inventory does not necessarily corresponds with the menu – many beers were missing so after the 3rd attempt we just asked to look at the refrigerators, that stocked plenty of stuff that’s not on the menu, for example Engel Aloisius from Germany or Wychwood fruit beer. The staff is helpful and knowledgeable – they were nice enough to tolerate our beergeek idiosyncrasies: taking pictures, writing notes, peeling off labels and collecting caps. This is our favourite bar in Bucharest and after our initial visit on the first night of our trip we sat there twice more when we returned to Bucharest in the end of the trip. The staff recognized us on the third time; too bad we had to fly back just when we started to be regular customers. 3 visits, two heavy drinkers and one Californian Agent who joined us in our last session there – that means plenty of beer. In order to make this short and sweet, here are the beers that are listed in the 1001 book that we drank there:

 

Rychtar Premium 12 – a bottle of generic Czech pils; Stiegl Goldbrau – Austrian lager, fresh and bitter; Shepherd Neame Bishops Finger which was both beautiful and tasty; Orkney Dark Island – one of the few Orkney brews we sampled in the trip – robust, salty, roasty Old Ale with sausage, iodine and dried fruit taste; and König Ludwig Dunkel that obviously had gone bad (BB date April 2013) but tasted fine by me – grainy and chocolatey.

On the first night we headed to Beer O’clock after leaving La 100 de Beri. Bigger space, broader selection. The extensive menu includes rarities such as aged bottles of Trappist ales and Brewdog’s expensive editions such as Abstrakt and Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Despite the inviting menu we only stayed for one round: the place reeks of cigarette smoke in such a way that The Secret Agent’s eyes reddened and I had to go out to the cold street in order to smell my beer. I drank De Ranke XX Bitter, a fine Belgian Ale that we enjoyed a couple of years ago in Belgium and were happy to drink again and enjoy its toffee and citrus notes. We bought a bunch of bottles to drink in the following days and take home and left.

A fridge to die for

A fridge to die for

After traveling all over –  in pastoral villages, touristic cities, small towns where the family’s from – we returned to Bucharest. On the first afternoon The Secret Agent and I split from the family and checked out Beer O’clock II, which is located in a small alley, filled with cafe’s and shisha lounges. At 4 or 5 p.m. the door was closed but the place was just opening. Sleazy heavy metal in the background, same extensive menu but due to the early hour and the fact that we were the first customers – no smoke. This bar is smaller than the mother ship, with a bar on the first floor and tables in the gallery. Looks less shiny but we liked it better because of the cleaner air. We hung out for a few rounds and drank a couple of beers from the book: Oakham JHB from England, tropical hoppiness and bitter with nettle-like finish that I liked alot, liked enough to order Oakham Citra that didn’t disappoint either. La Caracole Nostradamus is a pretty good Belgian Strong Ale that is very fruity in the nose and and tastes sweet and spicy. We ordered a couple of German beers that we enjoyed and Primator Double 24, a nasty, 10.5% abv. Czech Doppelbock that I simply couldn’t finish; it tasted like overly sugared coffee and alcohol.

So, what have we got here, count-wise? The bold-marked ones are beers #270-#278 I Must Try Before I Die. Noroc!

Duel

budweiser_budvar ???????????????????????????????

Pardon the cliche’, but I just had to write about the following two beers in one entry.

Czech Budweiser Budvar Světlý Ležák and Slovak Zlatý Bažant, both pilsners, both available in Israel and sold for rather cheap. Also the rating I gave to both beers are pretty similar, with a slight, almost insignificant preference to the former.  Without further ado, here are my tasting notes:

Budweiser Budvar is clear and golden fizzy, with minimal white head. Its aroma reminds me of straw, faint malt,flowers and lemon but it also has this typical mineral thingy.The taste is refreshing and bitter, body’s light and carbonation is fair. Poured from a can, Zlaty Bazant is also clear and gold-coloured and has a nice, frothy white head. Its aroma too has minerals but other than that I smelled apple juice concentrate and honey. The taste is bitter too, but I noted sweet, caramel undertones. Compared to other Czech pilsners, Zlaty Baznat’s body is a little heavier than Budvar’s and it has malty finish.

Both are alright beer and relatively cheap for import. Which one wins? I think that the Slovak one because of the maltiness and the body.

Budvar Světlý Ležák and Slovak Zlatý Bažant are beers #230 and #231 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.

Multi-Taps in Israel

Despite the recent craft beer renaissance, With an annual beer consumption of 14L per capita Israel still has a long way to go until it truly becomes a beer country. Like in many other countries, the local industry is dominated by two multinationals: Heineken (represented by Tempo Industries) and Carlsberg (represented by Israeli Beer Breweries). Each markets a number of beers. The former has local icons such as Macabbee, Nesher and Goldstar as well as Murphy’s, Newcastle, Samuel Adams, Paulaner and of course, Heineken. The latter has Wheinstephan, Guinness, Carlsberg, Tuborg (and Israel’s own Tuborg Red), Stella Artois, Leffe and probably a bunch of others. The duopoly enjoys a market share estimated in 95%-98%, which means that until a serious shift in consumers’ taste occurs, importers and local craft breweries hold 2-5% of the market.

The way things are, it is a miracle that Israelis are actually in the business of making and marketing beer  in the first place and a wonder that there are bars that serve more than the taps offered to them by the big player they are connected to. There are a bunch of places that offer 10 or even 15 taps, but real multi-taps that operate a system consists of 50 taps or more are still a rare sight here. As far as I know there are three bars like that. All three are located in Central Israel.

porterandsonslogoThe first and oldest, i.e being in operation for 3 years or so is Porter and Sons in Tel Aviv city center. Opened by industry veterans, owners of Norma Jean bistro/ former owners of Norman bar/ the people behind Norman Premium who import brands such as Duvel Moortgat, Chimay, Brooklyn Brewery and Fuller’s. With 50 beers on tap, dozens of bottles and special keg-events in occasions such as Independence Day (Israeli craft beers), Oktoberfest and winter – time for heavy Belgian ales, this is a favourite spot and a must for beer lovers. We sit at the Porter and Sons quite alot and the place has been mentioned in the blog before. Recent visits yielded notes about Erdinger Dunkel on tap, that had sweet plastic, caramel, malt and raisin aroma and sweetish yet slightly bitter taste. Of all the German beer available in Israel, I think that Erdinger is our least favourite. It just isn’t as great as other, even commercial, German brands have.

hoegaarden

I also got to drink a couple of Belgian beers there lately: Hoegaarden is widely available and its jar-sized glass can be seen in plenty of bars, only The Secret Agent and I don’t frequent plenty of bars. Visit The Beer Gatherer’s Facebook page to see where we usually drink – we posted a link to DSG’s picture gallery that sums it up. Syncing my 1001 follow-up list  to my Andriod allowed me on our last visit to the bar to look up beers that need to be sampled, so Hoegaarden it was, and it was not bad at all – quite good even. Fresh, citrusy, chewy and as rich as Belgian wheat beer gets. We also ordered Tripel Karmeliet on tap. I used to love Karmeliet but now it’s just too sweet and heavy on my taste buds, with too much honey and too much flower.

2 more multi-tap bars joined the local scene last summer. Both are located in the monstrous suburb Rishon LeZion (which is actually the 4th largest city in the country). 55 Drafts & More is a corporate bar that is a part of a cinema multiplex in the western industrial area. Size matters, the owners think, and quantity counts more than quality. Mostly commercial beer, apathetic staff and high prices to captured audience or perhaps an audience that doesn’t really care about beer and is just happy to have another faceless, soulless night out option in the ‘burbs.

The Pirate Pub is the complete opposite. Located on the other side of town, in the old eastern industrial area in what used to  be a wedding hall and then a night club that caters to the Russian immigrant crowd, the Pirate is huge, filled with endless wooden boots and a great, rustic atmosphere. Despite the trilingual menu, it is clear that the target audience is Russian: the food served there is not your typical bar food but mostly Russian dishes, the beer in the 50 taps includes plenty of German and Czech brews that are popular among this crowd, the staff is Russian and so is the default language you’ll be approached to. The rustic atmosphere mentioned above is expressed in the relaxed, homey feeling on one hand, but on the other hand it is also apparent in the somewhat low-maintenance of the taps and some lack of knowledge among the friendly and willing staff.

The Pirate Pub. This goes on and on (note the ceiling)

The Pirate Pub. This goes on and on (note the ceiling)

Being Tel Avivians who don’t drink and drive but are also too busy to take the long bus ride to the suburb we don’t frequent the Pirat as much as we would have liked. Last time we visited was 3 months ago. They threw an Oktoberfest event with Bischoff Kellerbier, Löwenbräu Oktoberfestbier and Tucher Bergkirchweih Festbier on tap. We drank them all and also took a mug of Gambrinus Premium that was a bit old but we drank it anyway because it’s a pretty hard to get pils. Its aroma was delicate and crispy and it tasted somewhat sweet and a little medicinal – not what you’d expect to taste. Old. The Pirate Pub is one of those places where it’s good to ask what’s popular or keg was recently replaced, but despite all its flaws, which might have been fixed since our visit, it’s one of the nicer places for beer in central Israel.

Erdinger Dunkel, Hoegaarden, Tripel Karmeliet and Gambrinus Premium are beers #163′ #164, #165 and #166 I Must Try Before I Die.

Four on the Go

For the first time in many weekends I can say I had a rest. Between high productivity and task-ticking and beer tasting and nuts going I had a blissful 10-hour sleep, ate a hearty breakfast, watched 2 episodes of Breaking Bad and snuggled with the cats. I still can’t upload our notes from the trip to Basel and Zürich because the photos haven’t been photoshopped yet. The Secret Agent’s been insanely busy since we came back, but it shall come. Meanwhile, to thin down the ever-growing beers to blog about list, here’s a bunch of beers we tasted recently. No particular order, no weird story, no anecdotes, just thinning down the list.

marston_pedigree   I rarely hit the stores these days as we’ve been getting our fix from deliveries and gifts, but last month I stopped by the neighbourhood alco shop on my way home from the bus or something and that’s where I bought a bottle of Marston’s Pedigree. As usual, when The Secret Agent is not around, I forgot to look at the best before date and thus got a bottle that in a normal country would have not been sold. Expired in May 2012, its presence on the shelf shouldn’t surprise those who are familiar with the players in the local industry, importers and merchants alike. It’s a country of scammers.

I can only blame myself: I was too lazy to go out and return the bottle (or just couldn’t bear listening once again to the local salespeople’s catchphrase used when faced with dated beer: “oh, it’s alcohol, it never goes bad”. Yeah, especially in the great storage condition, by your southernmost window). Anyway, we drank the beer that felt old indeed. Bready and fruity in the nose, soft bitterness in the mouth with hints of fruit, like suckling on a peach pit. No rich maltiness remained and that’s a shame. Although the beer wasn’t bad, it was clearly not what the brewmaster had in mind.

ohara_irish_redAnyway, the O’Hara’s Irish Red I bought at the same store was good, date-wise. It was also good beer-wise. A little on the light side, sweetish, with caramel aroma and flavour and also some wine. A decent beer that I enjoyed and The Secret Agent enjoyed less, because for him it was too sweet.

IPA Samuraj by Czech Brewery Kocour was poured (from a plastic bottle!) at a recent tasting. Shachar, who has a link to my list, brought it from Beer and Beyond’s latest trip to the Czech Republic. An American-style IPA, from a Czech brewery, poured from plastic bottle. The disastrous potential was gone as soon as my nose met its aroma, which was grassy and skunky, but in a good way. It tasted green and bitter and almost dry and had a delicate fizz and a long finish. Not the best IPA I have ever had and it probably would have not made it too the book had it not come from the Land of Saaz, but nevertheless it’s an OK brew.

IPA-Samurai

The last beer in this list is Sprecher Hefe Weiss from Wisconsin. What is supposed to be a German-style wheat beer ended up being too spicy and too bitter for a hefe. We didn’t like it in General and didn’t find anything German in it in particular. That’s quite disappointing. sprecher-hefeweiss

Marston’s Pedigree, O’Hara’s Irish Red, IPA Samuraj and Sprecher Hefe Weiss are beers #150, #151, #152 and #153 I Must Try Before I Die.

Primator in Tel Aviv-Jaffa

I’m so behind with this blog it’s getting ridiculous. Drinking beer is not a problem. I always find time for this, but writing about it is another story. In the past weeks I have probably drank 20 beers that are a part of my mission, dozens of other beers that are worth mentioning and and Israeli beer and breweries that I so want to write about, but due to work, school, homework, gym (heaven forbid) and tasting sessions, I don’t.

So there’s a lot of recap to do on my part, and I’ll start with an easy one, Czech-brewed Primator, now sold on bottles across the country and poured at the Norma Jean bistro in Jaffa. Primátor Polotmavý 13° and Primátor Weizenbier appear in the 1001 book. Primátor Premium Lager 12° isn’t, but it’s ratable, DSG, his partner, The Secret Agent and I met and rated a few weeks ago. The beers are served in boot glasses, my first time ever drinking from such a vessel. I did manage to avoided the air pocket, but it took some effort.

How was the beer? Polotmavý  is a sweet and buttery  Vienna lager with a somewhat sour finish. The Weizenbier was decent: cloudy, banana-clove aroma, spicy, a little sweet and a little sour, easy to drink with a sweet banana finish.

The Premium Lager is not in the book, but still, it’s an OK pilsner. Definitely better than the Polotmavý. Not sure what is the added value of those beers to the local market, but alas, at least I didn’t have to hunt beer #52 and #53 I must Try Before I Die overseas.

1001 Beers, they are everywhere.

40% listed in one book, 20% listed in the other.

We are only in the beginning of the 1001 Beer Challenge, but so far it seems like the supply is bigger than the demand. I meet a girlfriend at a restaurant, order a glass of beer and later at home discover that it’s in the book; I grab newly imported Australian ales at the store and upon flipping pages in the book I see that two out of the three bottles available here are in the book. And then there are the tastings. We go to beer tastings, making sure to bring listed beers and then at home discover that other people’s bottles are also in the book. It’s easy, a bit too easy, even, but I know that at one point beer gathering will be taken over by beer hunting, when seasonal beer from New Zealand and Kenyan lager will become the main scope of this challenge.

But so far, so good. Last week Shachar, the Living Swedish Boy and the Dead Swedish Girl came over to drink Bischoff Kellerbier and Leffe Rosa with us. These are two out of the three remaining beers left in order to complete our Hebrew mission. Leffe Rosa took space that could’ve been used for fancy beer in Shachar’s suitcase and the Kellerbier was mail-ordered and delivered to me by Bischoff’s representative in Israel, who heard about me and made sure I’d tick this beer, although he doesn’t import it anymore. Last beer remaining for this mission is a shitty eurolager named Kaiser. It’s Austrian.

Shachar wanted to use the opportunity to sample some bottles he had brought from Czech Republic last October. Among them was Master Polotmavý, an amber lager that according to the book is only available on tap – things have changed since its release, this time for the better but I’m sure that the time that passes usually won’t be an advantage in the future. Influenced by Dreher’s Vienna Lager (the real Austrian brewer whose name was bought by a beer corporation that gave Dreher Bak its name). This is a dark and hazy beer with some foam – not the prettiest beer I’ve seen, I must say. I smelled cooked fruit and it tasted sweet with just a hint of bitterness. Smooth texture, light body and thankfully – short finish. It must’ve been a much nicer beer when fresh.

Krampus Imperial Helles from Southern Tier brewery was in the package my Excellent Little Brother sent me for my birthday. Hazy amber in colour with thick foam, it smelled of grapefruit and evergreen but also of grain. It tastes bitter and feels very, very dry. With a short finish, lovely carbonation and light body, the people of Southern Tier successfully brewed the anti-Christmas beer. After last night I would love to drink their anti-Saint Patrick beer and if they don’t have one already, they should consider brewing one.

Some bottles we mail-ordered arrived by mail, and we shared a bottle of Boont Amber Ale by Anderson Valley with the gang. I think it was old. Clear dark amber with sweet aroma – candy and sugar, but I sensed sourness as well.  Taste was bad: stale and as sour as old milk. Finish was sour as well. No “subtle rich roasted quality”. Shame. It always sucks when beer goes wrong, but it sucks even more when roasty beer goes wrong.

Finally, DSG’s contribution for the evening was Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing, beer which name and label win my heart. I’m a sucker for sleazy West German bands “historical” lyrics, and drinking beer that bears Russia’s Greatest Love Machine’s name made me stupidly happy. The beer was good, probably the best   in that tasting. Black, opaque with tan head and sweet, wine and roasty aroma, its full body held round, roasty and bitter flavours which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Yes, this modest tasting supplied beers # 22, 23, 24, 25 I must try before I die. A few more were accumulated in the notebook in the past week or two and  I hope to write about them soon.

Here’s some more Old Rasputin for your viewing and listening pleasure:

Alpha Geeks

A couple of weeks ago and fashionably late the birthday present from my Awesome Little Brother arrived: a carefully packed parcel, contained three pieces of “collectible glassware” from his new city of residence and home, New York, New York.  Always happy to support his sister’s obsessions, my Awesome Little Brother consulted The Secret Agent and took me 2 steps down the 1001 road with two IPA’s and tucked in a third, mission-unrelated IPA that’s supposed to be good.

Beer tastes better in company, and thus we brought along one of the bottles to a tasting that took place at the Dancing Camel brewpub. Around the table gathered Ratebeerians, bloggers, brewers, entrepreneurs and a beer mercenary, some with notebooks, others without, and sipped through the 13 beers pictured below in order of drinking  (left-to-right).

Lucky 13 (thanks for the pic, Schachar).

I am one of those who were taking notes. The next day I compared my notes to the book and was happy to realize that besides the bottle we brought, two more of the beer we sampled are in the book; 3 steps in one evening, I’m almost, just almost, half way through 🙂

Tasting notes by order of drinking, in order to save the best for last.

It was Shachar from Beer and Beyond who brought Pilsner Urquell. It may seem a little odd among all those micros and ales that dominate the picture, but that was a bottle of unfiltered  unpasteurized (of course it’s unpasteurized, being clear and all how can it be unfiltered? thanks DSG for correcting) beer. I believe it’s not even commercially available here; Shachar may have received his bottle from the importers. It pours clear golden with quickly dissolving head and brought a rich, malty scent to my nostrils, with hints of honey and sweetness. It tasted bitter and hoppy but it was a different sort of bitter than the other stuff we sampled yesterday. It’s body was light, carbonation soft and the finish dry. It was a fresh, light beer  and writing about it makes me miss summer. I think that a visit to the Czech restaurant in the city center is inevitable (hell yes it’s inevitable! Just checked out Little Prague’s website to see if they still serve Urquell and learned that they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary this very week, with 10nis. halves!).

Zvika from Ratebeer supplied us with Stone IPA. The Secret Agent and drank Stone for the first time in 2007, on our cross-country road trip. We were shopping for beer in Wholefoods San Diego, on our way to a mountain cabin near Julian, to meet my friend, artist and dollmaker Lynn Dewart for the first time and celebrate her birthday. We picked stone because the gargoyle looked cool. Don’t even remember which Stone it was then (pale ale, maybe?). Anyway, I loved that IPA. It pours cloudy orange with light foam, bears fun aroma of orange and citrus, bitterness dry and fun as well – and a dry finish, fair carbonation and a light body that somehow holds everything together almost perfectly.

Laughing Dog’s AlphaDog Imperial IPA sealed the tasting on an EXTREMELY bitter note. Its bitterness goes to eleven and its IBU to 127. It pours cloudy golden with a medium head and I smelled maple candy, honey, some grass and citrus. The taste, as you can guess was extreme and edgy. No balance between the nose and the mouth, but I think that’s the point here. It finished on a long and dry note and I loved it. I know I would’ve loved it less had it been a bottle shared by another attendee, one that wasn’t sent by my Awesome Little Brother, but what the hell.

Laughing Dog AlphaDog Imperial IPA,Stone India Pale Ale (IPA),Pilsner Urquell (unpasteurized), 4,5,6/1001 Beers I must try before I die.

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