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 “Doppelbock”

4 in 1


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:


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.

Christmas in (almost) July


Unlike some of the English pale ales, Czech pils and African lagers, Samichlaus is unquestionably a beer one must try before one dies. This 14% abv. Doppelbock is brewed every year before Christmas, on December 6th, aged 10 months before bottling, and delivered to the stores on time for Christmas. It ages beautifully, too. We held a vertical tasting of this beer back in 2011 in our Hebrew blog, with 2004 and 2010 bottles. I just started writing tasting notes then, and that session can be summed up as good and meh, respectively.

Last year The Beer Greek held bi-weekly tastings at work, to our colleagues who work with beer: the lovely product developer, the now deceased brewmaster, and the marketing crew. Being a part of the tasting panel of the brewery and generally someone who has a clue, I joined them. When it was time for the strong beer session, I donated a 2009 vintage bottle we had at home for comparison, cos The Secret Agent really doesn’t care about Samichlaus. This bottle was added to the 2011 and the then-newest 2013 bottle The Beer Greek brought.

Here are the tasting notes:

2013: Clear dark copper, small head. Cherry tomato, then raisins in the nose, very sweet, liquor-like taste. Smooth texture, full body and no carbonation. Long, raisins aftertaste.

2011: Same appearance. More raisins and chocolate aroma, deeper, more alcoholic taste, full-bodied, vinous finish.

2009: Deepr colour. Cherry tomato aroma again but also lots of chocolate. A little sour and a little sweet taste, vinous finish, smooth, no carbonation and long liquor and chocolate finish.

As I remembered, it gets deeper and sweeter as time goes by. I actually liked 2013 vintage the best in this tasting.

Samichlaus is Beer #433 I must Try Before I Die.

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.


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.


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.

German Invasion

A bunch of German brews that’s been patiently waiting to be documented, and by patiently I mean months!

lammsbraeuNeumarkter Lammsbräu Urstoff is a Helles lager that has a faintly metallic aroma and not much more. After stirring the tasting glass, some sweetness appeared in my nostrils but really, that’s about it. This is a sweet and rather insignificant beer with soft fizz, light body and short finish. Let’s move on to happier beers, like Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel from the lovely Bavarian monastery Kloster Andechs. 7.1% abv. of sheer goodness: smells of raisins, malt and a little sugary alcohol, sweet, roasty and slightly grainy taste, full body and malty finish. We usually love Klosterbruerei Andechs beers and when we don’t it means that we drank an old bottle.andechser-doppelbock-dunkel

HackerPschorr-weisseHacker-Pschorr (Hefe) Weisse, is a neat Hefe Weizen from one of Munich’s 6 Oktoberfest breweries. It pours cloudy orange-golden with white film, has bubblegum, has banana-punch-ice-cream aroma with a little plastic and overall classic. Mildly bitter taste, a little clovey and spicy with a light-to-medium body and fizzy bubblegum finish. Enjoyable, communicative and fun.

kindl_weisseWe brought a bottle of Berliner Kindl Weisse from our weekend in Switzerland – that was 6 months ago! Berliner Weiße is a light, sour regional beer. Our sourhead friends like it, but we are still in the process of acquiring the taste. Its faint aroma reminded me a little of cream cheese and nutritional yeast flakes nuttiness. The taste is very sour, acidic and somewhat like cheese water. Medium body, smooth texture. Interesting but not something I’d drink on its own. Berliner Kindl Weisse is often mixed with a shot of fruit syrup – doubt I’d do it, though. I try to avoid commercial syrups in cocktails and can’t even imagine adding them to beer.

KapuzinerLast beer on this list is another Weissbier – Kapuziner Weissbier. Bottle bought in April, consumed in late May, expired in mid. February. Funky bubblegum aroma with sweet challa bread, caramel and toffee notes. Tastes sweet, bubblegum and some spiciness but mostly sweet and peach-like. It wasn’t THAT bad but its age was apparent. I think it is no longer imported to Israel and as a woman on a mission, I couldn’t afford waiting.

This list contains beers #251, 252, 253, 254 and 255 I Must Try Before I Die. Doing fine so far.

Two for Two

2 drafts are on the work but until I complete them, here are two more beers I can put together under one banner – American Beer. That’s broad enough and covers both Two Brothers Domain DuPage and Tröegs Troegenator. Hey, they have another thing in common! They are both European style, one’s a biere de garde, the other is doppelbock. Yup, I’m stretching it…

Domaine DuPage pours cloudy amber and smells of chocolate praline and jam. It tastes somewhat watery at first and then caramelish, a little butterscotch sweetness appears. Medium-bodied, sweetish finish, smooth texture. Not bad at all.

The Troegenator pours clear reddish brown with a quickly dissolving head. It has cola and faint raisins aroma, tastes very sweet and a little winy. Smooth texture, soft carbonation, long finish. There’s nothing new or innovative about this beer but nonetheless it is  tasty and nice.

Here’s another something common about these beers – they are OK. Nothing brilliant but compared to some of the wonders we wrote about, OK is just OK.

Domaine DuPage and Troegenator are beers #228 and #229 I must Try Before I Die.

Celebrating at Home

Ayinger Brewery’s pub in Munich has the saddest location ever. Right in the city center with the main shopping street and the big church nearby, it could’ve been a hell of a tourist hub. Only there’s this little thing across the alley that kind of stands on its way: the Hofbräuhaus. Yes, Aygner chose to locate their pub right by THE bräuhaus, with its size, Bavarian-ness, history and herds of tourists that occupy the benches at any given time. We visited Ayinger after sitting across the street. The place was empty and seemed out of place among HB, Starbucks and Hard Rock Cafe’

The Secret Agent and I were there a week or so after the end of Oktoberfest and the place was literally empty. We split a glass of Bavarian Dunkel that I found watery and insignificant but The Secret Agent said it was just fine. Nothing too stunning but fine nonetheless.

Fast forward to today. While I was preparing for tomorrow’s class, The Secret Agent cooked us a hearty vegan stew, that demanded the companion of a heavy, German beer, like that Ayinger Celebrator that Santa dropped down the Chimney right before 2012 began, because he knows how much The Secret Agent loves doppelbock. Fashionably and once again wrongly late, we only got to drink it today. This is a full-bodied, softly carbonated doppelbock, that smells of prune, raisins and chocolate and tastes fruity, slightly sweet and metallic. With an abrupt finish and an alcoholic aftertaste, this 6.7% abv. goat drink is well balance and still really nice, considering the time we kept it.

This is beer #26 in my 1001 Beer Challenge. I am actually behind and owe you a report about one crazy tasting we hosted last week – Sam Adams Extravaganza with a capital E. Seriously.


Seven in Heaven

photo by Dead Swedish Girl

Nine beergeeks gathered last night in a Scrapbooking heaven in a pampered suburb not far from the big city. Nine beergeeks, 18 bottles of beer (well, 17 bottles, 16 of them of beer, one Swedish cider, and a can), 7 of which appear in the book! Without further ado, here they are:

First bottle from the Book was Stolichno Bok that one of the attendees brought from his ski holiday in Bulgaria. It was clear and reddish and had velvety wine aroma. It tastes sweet, a little like cherry and has a heavy body with light carbonation and long finish.

Dreher Bak was our contribution to the mission. We got bottles from our Hungarian friend Izabella, whom we first met 5 years ago via Couchsurfing. She stayed with us a couple of times and came again last month, with two bottles of Dreher Bak, per our request. This is a dark brown beer that has a sweet malty aroma, with hints of cooked fruit. It tastes bitter and dry and roasty and has a smooth texture, full body and long finish. Not bad at all! We have another bottle – good for us.

I think we tasted something from Urthel brewery on our trip to Belgium, but I don’t think it was Hop-It. Born in Belgium, Urthel is now brewed in Koningshoeven in The Netherlands. It’s a Belgian (or Dutch?) IPA, a little hazy in colour, with rich honey aroma that’s probably shouldn’t be there and a weird taste that begins sweet, then becomes bitter and feels soapy all along. Its finish is like a bitter apple and the carbonation is lively. I think that the bottle is either old or off. Dunno.

American or Belgian? Ommegang Abbey Ale poured hazy dark amber with a unique big yellowish foam head. It’s as heavy, fruity and honey-ish as one would expect and tastes really sweet and slightly bitter. It was a little metallic, too. The body is full, the finish is long, carbonation is medium.

Last night wasn’t our first encounter with Stone, not even in the 1001 Beers Challenge. Stone Ruination IPA is great, clear and blond and smells of peachs and grapefruit. It’s bitter, of course, straight to the point, but milder than I thought it would be. It was crisp, light-bodied and well carbonated.

Not sure whether or not I ordered Rogue Dead Guy Ale, as I’ve been eyeing this beer for quite a while. If we get it now I’ll be a little disappointed, for “wasting” my mail order on beer I have already sampled… It was alright, but not that amazing: a little apple and sweet aroma, a slightly bitter taste, apricot both in the nose and the mouth and not really carbonated.

Anchor Porter, however, was more to my liking. It was dark and opaque and smelled of chocolate and charob and tasted smooth and sweeet like chocolate milk. Medium bodied, slight carbonation and medium finish.

There were other beers there, and at least one beer that’s worth a post of its own. Soon. Now I gotta check out and make some big decisions about Purim celebrations: should we stay in or should we go to the grand opening of Dancing Camel Brew Pub new location? Went to bed after 2 a.m after last night’s tasting and barely made it through work today. I think we’ll end up staying in, drinking coke and coffee.

15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 beers I must try before I die.

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