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 “Lager”

August Recap

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Quaffable and German

Veltins Pilsener is a harmless German beer. Pale in colour, slightly grassy aroma, mildly bitter and light-bodied. Augustiner Edelstoff, brought by Teva Boy to a bottleshare (only canned) is a light Helles beer, with a soft bread-grainy aroma, light body and a mildly bitter, yet grainy taste. This too is harmless and true-to-style for sure. Teva Boy also shared with us Andechser Weissbier Hell, which is a pretty amazing Hefeweizen. Cloudy yellow with white film. Classy aroma – banana and clove. Yeasty bittersweet taste. Medium-to-full body, slightly dried banana finish.

These 3 German beers, all suitable for summertime drinking but only the latter actually recommended, are Beers #425, #426 and #427 I Must Try Before I Die.

A quick note – Tsingtao


Tsingtao, China’s #1 Premium Beer – I’m sure this slogan is used somewhere – is available in Israel. The Secret In-Laws didn’t know that, and brought us two cans from their trip to China last September. We drank it, I did the mandatory check-in in Untapped, but my tasting notes date back to December 2011, a few days after starting this blog. It’s a generic lager that worked fine for me 3.5 years ago, but 3K beers later, I’m sure I would’ve rated it quite low. I mean, “premium lager”.

Tsingtao is Beer #419 I Must Try Before I Die. Now who’s fetching us a bottle/ can of Zhujiang?

Cute and Chubby


Full Sail’s Session Lager comes in the sweetest bottle ever. It’s short and chubby and one of the few bottles I kept after drinking. I usually just peel off the labels and if I’m not up to it I’ll leave the bottles to the collectors in the group, or recently, take interesting ones to work, for our packaging purchase guy who in turn sometimes treats me to novelty caps. Here’s the plus side of working in a big brewery, well, one of them.

Anyway, bottle content was shared in May, but expired in  February, so aroma and flavour were a bit off. Clear greenish gold and headless. Very grainy and a little bready aroma. Bitter and grainy taste. Light body, grainy finish.

Full Sail Session Lager is Beer #355 I Must Try Before I Die.

Old Beers Don’t Die. They Don’t Kill You Either.


Marketed in Israel as Grolsch Premium Lager, Grolsch Premium Pilsner is listed in The Book,  perhaps because the editors share my weakness to this classy flip-top clear green bottle.

I must have seen and drank this beer for the first time when I lived in England in the 90’s, either in the city where I lived – a place with a fair share of CAMRA-certified pubs where I got drunk on Hooch and what my ex used to order at the pub – lager, any lager – or in our miserable, rainy trip to the continent in the summer of 1997.  I do remember buying bottles, 3 or 4 bottles for 10nis, in 1998. That’s 2.3 Euro in today’s currency, please don’t ask me for its price in Guilder at that time. I found it at a store in Tel Aviv’s central bus station, skid row then and now, on my way to visit my self-destruction peer who was recovering from a bad car accident he was involved in back in Minneapolis. Neither him nor me knew anything about beer, but we liked getting drunk and these embossed Grolsch bottles looked fancy and fun and they were really cheap for fancy import beer. Only at B’s parents’ place did I looked at the best before date and learned that the product is expired. We didn’t know much about beer but had the common sense to drink it anyway – a year old beer wouldn’t kill us, we thought, and indeed it didn’t.

Years later and drinking expired beer is a part of the routine. They die on their way to Israel from wherever, they die in storage while waiting to be consumed, they die because of less-than-optimal storage conditions, but nevertheless they are consumed, because rating and ticking is my thing and it has nothing to do with imbibing.

For this entry/ ticking I drank an unexpired bottle. I won’t bother sharing my tasting notes with you, my dear readers. Chances are you’ve quenched your thirst with this one before. Bottle’s nice and after cleaning it thoroughly it can be used to store all kinds of things, like simple syrup for your cocktails.

So Grolsch Premium Pilsner is beer #330 I must Try Before I Die.

Bumping Into Beer

Ideal Tasting for Augustiner Tasting

Ideal Setting for Augustiner Tasting

Last post I missed Augustiner Lagerbier Hell that was shared by REL. Apparently it is also in the book but I only realized it shortly after posting the previous post. We were at a tasting and I was looking through my files when I found it’s in the book too. It wasn’t too amazing, the sample we tried was nothing more than OK – grainy, slightly bitter, light-bodied. Augustiner is one of our favourite Munich breweries and we fondly remember the beers we drank there – drank, not sampled. Some beers are just better tasted “live”.

Still, I got to drink beer #308 I Must Try Before I Die.

Augustiner Bier - the lightweight version

Augustiner Bier – the lightweight version

Past Deadline

When I returned to work after the long Rosh HaShana weekend, The Beer Greek remarked that I flunked the deadline I gave myself. 300 ticks by Rosh Hashana, then by the end of the holiday. I know. I had life to attend to. What can I do?
It’s the morning of Yom Kippur now, time for me, non-observant, to catch up on all sorts of things, from laundry to travel plans to work (cos Paris and London and New York and Dublin don’t care much about Yom Kippur and neither does the tight schedule I’m on in real-life) – and to blog. So here it is – the 300 count-up!

Love this ad.

Love this ad.

Yesterday evening The Secret Agent’s metalhead cousin dropped by. Other than rum educational we opened our bottle of beer #289 – Estrella Damm Inedit. It’s a magnum bottle and we were looking for an opportunity to share it with someone. I fondly remembered this Belgian-style wheat beer, but last night’s bottle was a little oxidized. Hazy golden with a frothy white head – looks as elegant as the bottle – sweet, fruity aroma and sweet taste. Estrella Damm Inedit was created for El Bulli restaurant that was since closed but the beer is still in production. Sexy bottle, if there ever was one, but that’s it.

Then we opened another big-ish bottle, Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, beer #290. I love Stone beer and so do the 1001 Beers book editors, as there are 4 beers from this brewery in the book. This American Strong Ale is both very hoppy, fruity AND chocolatey and no, it isn’t cacophonic at all.

this must be tattooed on more than one shoulder

this must be tattooed on more than one shoulder

Blixa and the first beer for the Jewish year

Blixa and the first beer for the Jewish year

Last week, in Rosh Hashana morning, right after I blogged, I opened a bottle of Fuller’s Honey Dew. Timing for beer #291 was perfect, as honey is a traditional new year food – for a sweet start. I try to avoid honey but beer is somewhat of an exception for everything in life.  The UK’s first organic beer pours honey-gold and smells like honey that was left standing and became sweeter and thicker. Honey also dominates the mouth but this is definitely a beer, and a good one, too, with nice maltiness, full body, and a lingering, honey-bitter finish.

Later that day we drank beer #292: Svyturys Ekstra – good-for-a-hot-day-on-the-beach kind of helles that smelled a little corny, even though it contains rice. The Secret Agent and I are not the target audience for beach beer .

Let’s move on – just before Rosh HaShana 4 of us gathered at the Dancing Camel Pub for a small tasting/ rating/ untapping/ ticking session. The Secret Agent didn’t join me, so I brought bottles that he could care less about, i.e. ‘exotic’ (i.e. nasty) lagers from Tahiti and Laos. Yup – after months of searching I finally found a bottle of Beerlao Lager – the light one, which is beer #293, another ricey beer. Hazy golden it poured – and I was expecting clear beer – corn and petrol aroma and unpleasing bitter sensation in the mouth. Ugh. Things got better when Dead Swedish Girl schlapped beer #294 – Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter. We’ll be in Yorkshire next week, but our beer sampling agenda is full already so I’m glad I got to taste this lovely roasty-smoky goodness. It tastes a little alcoholic and has these really cool hints of sausage that I’m a real sucker for – guilty pleasure for a 21 years vegetarian…  Beer #295 was a real tread – Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA from Eugene, OR. It’s a good one. Orange, clear-going-hazy with a big white head, faint hoppy aroma of onion peel and floral, oniony bitterness and a little dry – tasty and refreshing. Thank you Baseball Tom for getting your friend to bring it!


5 more til the 300th beer in this project and I’ll stick to American beers, that dominate the book. Widmer Brothers Hefe Weizen is beer #296 and it is a disappointment: tasteless, aroma-less. This is probably yet another case of getting old bottles to the beer desert we live in, because seriously, our bottle was like a homebrew gone wrong and it can’t be the case. Earlier this year we sampled their Reserve Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout that was wonderful, so I’m sure it’s not the beer or the batch, but rather shipping, storing and handling of this specific bottle. Next.

Great Lakes Brewing Company from Cleveland’s been caught our attention lately, with curious beers such as Elliot Ness and Rye of the Tiger. They have 2 beers in the book: Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold is beer #297 and the second helles/ Dortmunder in this entry. As opposed to the Lithuanian beer above, this stuff is good: A little pickle juice, sweet and a little plastic aroma, sweet  and then bitter taste, pickly too. Medium body, fizzy and yet smooth, bitter finish. Nothing too complex, but something I’d be happy to drink again. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald got its own entry in the best beer blog I’ve ever seen: Beer Labels in Motion on tumblr- whata wonderful homage to a wonderful porter, that is beer #298: very dark ruby-red with tan head. Slightly roasty aroma with a little wine and condensed coffee, tastes roasty and bitter with a little cucumber(!) Medium bodied, slightly roasty finish, robust.

Last two beers in this loooong entry/list are brewed by Avery Brewing Co. from Colorado: beer #299 is Ellie’s Brown Ale is nice and complex: chocolate and warm carrot juice aroma, chocolate and malt taste. Medium body, soft chocolate finish. Avery The Maharaja is the second Double IPA in this post and it is also the very random beer #300 I Must Try Before I Die. It’s a hoppy beer with pine, many flowers and lychee notes that tastes a little old, yet bitter and hoppy with some almond bitterness too. Full body, long and bitter finish.

And now what? 701 more beers to try before I die. Got a couple more that I drank and haven’t written about – hopefully I’ll get to it in the next holiday, around Tuesday-Wednesday, a bunch of bottle in the fridge, an upcoming trip to Northern England and a long journey ahead. At least The Beer Greek won’t scold me tomorrow at work.

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.

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!

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.


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.


Nils Oscar God Lager and D.Carnagie Porter are beers #204 and #205 I Must Try Before I Die.

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