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 “Stout”

English Beer Recap #4 – The hidden Gems of Bradford

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As soon as we decided to take a beer trip to Northern England, we knew we’d stop at Bradford. A place known better for its curry, riots, and the 1989 burning of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, Bradford is not a top-of-mind beer destination. However, it has a special place in my personal history. As far as beer history goes, this is the first place I learned about CAMRA. It was in 1997 and I was at the 1in12, where the punks and anarchists hung out. Didn’t know shit about beer and used to drink “lager” – that’s what my boyfriend used to order – and apple flavoured Hooch, a horrendous alco-pop. Not being a social animal, and that’s an understatement, I was happy to find a small zine, similar to any punk publication of the day – cut and paste, photocopied – with the tagline Campaign for Real Ale, whatever that was. The one thing I remember reading there – and that’s quite something, considering it’s been 18 years of booze and B12 deficiency and an OD of written material – is an op-ed against my drink de jour, aka Hooch and the likes – how they destroy the industry, ruin young people’s appreciation of real ale, whatever that was, and so on. It stuck with me.

This CAMRA publication is of course not a good reason to visit the city, but seeing the place where I lived, and walking in Lister Park, and eating a decent curry are, so after a short sightseeing tour and some beer in Manchester, we drove to Bradford. We opted to drive through towns, so instead of 30 minutes on the highway it took us about an hour to get there.

After a brief tour of the neighbourhood, which felt tamer than it was – is it distance and defamilarization or is it for real? – we went drinking. The Secret Agent picked 2 CAMRA-recommended pubs to visit before heading to a night in Huddersfield, old-school real-ale pubs that I must have seen before, but never went in, because the ex had his own local, Scruffs and Snobs. I looked for it online before our trip. It’s not there anymore. First place we visited was The New Beehive Inn, not far from the city center, as the area code BD1 indicates. The inn was built in 1901,  and has tons of features we love in a place, such as stained glass windows, a painted sign and all sorts of knick-knacks. We arrived quite early in the evening and it was quite dark inside. Apparently this pub is known for its use of gas-light and is recognized by CAMRA as one of Britain’s Real Heritage Pubs. The Beehive serves locally-brewed ales and we sampled two of them. Black Sheep Best Bitter was the first. Our itinerary was quite flexible and on the first day of the trip we didn’t know we’d make it to Masham, to visit Black Sheep and Theakston breweries, so we drank this one as soon as we saw it. The name Best Bitter is quite accurate – it is one of the best bitters I have ever tasted. Clear golden brown with white head. Toffee, nutty, earthy aroma, full, robust, toasty bitterness, medium body, long, bitter, earthy finish. Next comes Saltaire Blonde, from the nearby town Shipley, home of Shipley Glen, the location of many yesteryear adventures. 4% abv. blond ale that’s also available in bottles in the area. Clear blond with white head, Fruit, faint citrus, floral aroma, bitter, slightly hoppy finish. Soft, medium body, bitter, a little dry finish.

We had to make it to Huddersfield that night and satisfy the craving for curry before, so we left after a single round and headed to The Fighting Cock. Located in the Lister Hills neighbourhood, pretty much in between the area where my ex’s friends used to live and the 1in12 club where they used to hang out, I had to slap myself when entering the place. The 19-year-old me would’ve had it so much better had she hung out there! It’s in a street corner, near a discount supermarket, with 2 or 3 rooms (been a while, so I forgot), all bustling with decor and awards and people! Lots of them! It was busy and we couldn’t find a vacant table, but two locals who saw us wandering immediately invited us to sit with them. You can get foreign bottled beer there, but we were there for the real-ale, and as local as possible. We started off with a Book Beer – Timothy Taylor’s Landlord from Keighley. a 3.5% abv. bitter, it pours light gold with white head. Pumpkin seeds and jasmine aroma, very little butterish taste, a little burning and mildly bitter. Medium body, long, nettle-like finish. The burning sensation in the end is very untypical, that’s for sure.

Next we had Geeve’s Smokey Joe. It’s a stout from Barnsley, and I couldn’t skip a beer with such a name, of course! Its aroma was great, with notes of chocolate, wood, old chocolate liquor and delicate smokiness. It’s a pretty good beer, however, despite the smoky notes in the mouth, neither the taste nor the body matched the awesomeness of the nose. Then, another local, Rat Against The Machine, an IPA from Rat Brewery from Huddersfield, yup, the following destination. Pretty good beer, with great citrus aroma and some grainy notes in the mouth. We continued with Bobs White Lion, an ok blond ale from Ossett, and since we had so much fun, we stayed for a third round. We had Copper Dragon Golden Pippin blond ale from Skipton – quite alright and very malty, and abother Book Beer – Pendle Witches Brew by Moorehouse’s. Coming from Burnley, Lancanshire, 26 miles south west of The Fighting Cock, this almost feels like a foreign beer. But I cannot blame the distance nor the pub for its poor performance. Judging from the 5 other pints and half-pints we had there, beer’s well-kept in that place; and 26 miles is practically around the corner, so the buttery, popcorn aroma and taste is, well, the beer. What a shame. We washed down the off flavour with delicious vegan portions at Punjab Sweet House, as recommended by our table buddies and headed to check out the pubs in Huddersfield.

 

Black Sheep Best Bitter, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Moorehouse’s Pendle Witches Brew are beers #404, #405 and #406 I Must Try Before I Die.

English Beer Recap pt.2

I have an exam on Monday and haven’t started studying yet. While destroying a medium-sized rain forest printing files and forms that are supposed to help me prepare for this shit, here’s a recollection of a few bottled English beers I drank and which are listed in the book. Why bottled? Because cask beers demand a little more blogging time and effort.

So here we go:

brakspear bitterBrakspear Bitter is available in Israel. Not too widespread, but can be found in premium supermarkets such as Tiv Ta’am and specializing stores like Markol Ha’Derech in Ramat Ishai or Beer and Beyond in Tel Aviv, where I got my bottle. It’s not too popular here, I believe that due to minor marketing attempt and also due to its low abv. – only 3.4%. Israelis prefer their beer stronger, it’s a value for money thing. I rated it almost exactly one year ago, on February 15th 2015 and are my notes: Hazy brown amber in colour, and an aromatic, malty aroma of biscuit and candy. Slightly alcoholic, bitter and malty taste. Medium-bodied, sweetish finish. Quite nice and rather rich for a 3.4% beer.

St. Peters brewery uses the nicest oval bottles for their beer. Both label and shape remind me of craft spirit – Sloe Gin maybe? – more than craft beer. They have two beers in The Book:

st peters fruit beerSt. Peters Fruit Beer is some sort of heavy-ish Radler, with 4.7% abv. It is based on wheat beer and with grapefruit added to it. Potentially summery and refreshing, but in reality quite lame: Lots of grapefruit in the nose but only slightly hoppy. Bitter, like expired grapefruit juice, malty, then very bitter, but in a bad way. Medium body, bitter finish with some caramel. Not good – maybe it’s a bottle/ batch/ delivery defect? Sure hope so.

st peters cream stoutSt. Peters Cream Stout pours black, opaque with tan ring. Sweet, red grapes. slightly roasted – but only slightly – aroma. Tastes roasty, slightly bitter and a little alcoholic. Mildly carbonated, full-bodied, long, slightly roasty finish. Better than the grapefruit beer but again, not too amazing. Their Scotch Ale, The Saints, is quite good though. Peaty and phenolic and fun.

And finally, for today’s entry, as I should really start working on functions and PERT and shit, is nightmareHambleton Nightmare, stout from the beautiful town of Ripon, in Yorkshire, only we didn’t drink it there, but from a bottle that arrived from the US. Pours very dark brown with white ring. Chocolate, diacetyl and chocolate milk aroma, a little buttery and sweet with some wood in the mouth, but more buttery than roasty. Smooth texture, full-bodied. Not quite a nightmare, but definitely not amazing.

Brakspear Bitter, St Peters Cream Stout and St Peters Fruit Beer and Hambleton Nightmare are beers #394, #395, #396 and #397 I Must Try Before I Die. Happy Friday the 13th y’all!

wholesomeness and awesomeness

Dorothywholesomestout

Dorothy Goodbody’s Wholesome Stout – what a cute name for a beer! Other than having a cute name, it’s also a pretty awesome beer Brewed by Wye Valley from Herefordshire, England. Available in cask, I got the bottle conditioned version in a trade with gunnar from Norway. It pours black and opaque, smells roasty, with walnut and wood. the aroma reflects on the taste buds, that feel wood and nuts and plenty of roastiness. Medium body, with a long smooth and bitter finish that’s mildly carbonated. Again, pretty awesome, though I’m really not sure about the label. At least they didn’t fall for the blond ale cliche’.

 

 

 

Dorothy Goodbody’s Wholesome Stout is beer #382 I Must Try Before I Die.

Let the Bell’s Ring

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Still in a recap mood, there are three beers from Bell’s Brewery in the book. It took me quite some time to hunt the first two and then suddenly, beers by the Michigan-based brewery started appearing in our tasting sessions. Broader distribution? Maybe.

I got Bell’s Amber Ale and Bell’s Cherry Stout via trade last year. Judging from the number of ratings on Ratebeer, Bell’s Amber Ale is one of the brewery’s most popular brews. First brewed in 1985, it’s a veteran craft beer we got here. I shared my bottle at a tasting we held at the pub at work with Nachum, our beer training manager and a legendary figure in the community and the industry alike. Bell’s Amber ale pours murky amber (duh!) with a quick dissolving head that turns into a ring. Sweet, cooked apples aroma, very bitter and a little yeasty taste. Light-to-medium body, faint finish. Drinkable but past its prime.

Next, from the same trade, is Bell’s Cherry Stout, with Michigan cherries added to the brew. The result? very dark and opaque beer that has light cherry aroma, slightly sour taste accompanied by cherry sweetness. Full body, smooth texture, slightly sour finish. Nice.

Finally, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Though widely available, the bottle I got was a little old, which doesn’t do much good to IPA’s. Hazy orange with white ring, floral and a little baby barf aroma, a little floral-honey sweetness with soft bitterness. Medium body, long finish.

I like the cherry stout the best out of the three, and like Bell’s Porter and the Golden Rye Ale better.

Bell’s Amber Ale, Bell’s Cherry Stout and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale are beers #347, #348 and #349 I Must Try Before I Die.

Here’s Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Let the Bells Ring, cos it’s a beautiful song.

Beers I drank in Spain

Did I mention the crazy backlog in this blog and list? Of course I did. There’s one beer missing from last year’s Romania Field Report, not a word was written about September’s Real Ale Trail in Yorkshire and Manchester and I kept silent about the Birthday Mayhem in Prague that took place in a sunny January weekend. Between these two beer-centric getaways there was a business trip to the Canary Islands – a long weekend of surfing lessons, shows, parties and so many glasses of Jameson ginger ale that it shows in Irish Distillers annual reports. But it was business, tough job and somebody had to do it. There are no direct flights from Tel Aviv to Lanzarote. I had to arrive at the island a day before my guests – ~90 bar and restaurant owners, bartenders, local celebrities and fellow employees – to watch the production. Thus an afternoon flight and an overnight stay in a hotel in Madrid were booked, and I logged in to Ratebeer.com, to do business. To make a long story short, I landed, checked in at the airport hotel, dropped my bags and rushed to the bus to the city center. By the time I arrived, 11p.m on Wednesday night, a casual hour in Tel Aviv, the bars I was aiming at were not admitting new patrons. Begging, saying I’m a beergeek who came all the way from Tel Aviv and that I just want to tick/ grab a takeaway,  didn’t help.

It was late, I was tired, but decided to take a walk around the block before hailing a taxi back to the city outskirts. Beer Karma came to work and I bumped into a corner bar, that bears the cheesy name La Casa De La Cerveza.

The Pilsner Urquell and Guinness signs in the streets, the name of the place and the beams are deceiving: behind the touristic facade there’s a nice bar with a decent menu that lists dozens of European and American brews: from Belgian ales to bigger export US craft beer, with a good amount of German and English stuff in between, and 7 taps as well. The bartender fixed me a vegan sandwich and I read the beer menu, picking stuff from the 1001 Beer book: Gouden Carolus Classic was imported to Israel in the past and used to be one of my favourite beers when I got into craft beer, but my palette has changed and it tasted too sweet and stuffy. Condensed fruit, lots of sugar and full body. It wasn’t the ideal beer for my tired body, apparently.  Duchesse de Bourgogne is a Belgian sour beer that The Secret Agent and I drank in Namur. I love the gothic  label, but the beer’s a little too sour to my taste. Its aroma begins sweet and then becomes pungently fruity-mango-yogurt-like. The tastes is sweet at first, then becomes  lactic. Full-bodied, yogurty finish and rather smooth texture, but not really my kind of brew. Despite the obsessiveness, I asked the bartender to recommend me something Spanish, and he opened a bottle of Copper Ale by VG Noster from Basque Country, a sweet, fruity amber ale. Not much to write about it. It was getting late, I was getting drunk, so I grabbed a bottle of Achel Bruin to drink later in the trip (7 months later and it’s still in our fridge. It’s a Trappist ale so I’m not worried).

duchesse

There is not much to write about beer in Lanzarote – bars pour macro lagers mostly and the supermarkets stocks them and they are really cheap and cater for those A Place In The Sun expats. I did grab a bottle of Mahou Negra, a popular Spanish dark beer from the Carlsberg group, that tastes sweet, like chocolate milk almost and is still rather light-bodied. It is now available in Israel and served on Tap in the Cervezeria, a Madrid-style Tapas bar in the heart of Tel Aviv. We go there for Gin and Tonic or Rum but draught Negra is our in-between rounds drink.

no beer to write home about, but look at the view!

On our way back home we had a 4 or 5 hours layover in Madrid Airport, that was going under renovation; they’ll have some fancy shops in the future, but for the time being, other than Cafeterias that sell San Miguel (yup, tried the non-alcoholic one on my way to Lanzarote), and an OK spirits section at the duty-free shop, the options are limited. However, daytime, metro to the city center, a map and mucho determination, brought me to Plaza Bilbao, where I landed several nights before, only to find it thriving. Grabbed a bag of chestnuts – a mandatory part of any visit in Europe in the fall or winter – and ran to Bar Animal, that was friendly and inviting. 10 taps, a fridge full of goodness and this fridge door:

Bar Animal Madrid

In a little over an hour I drank 6 beersm some with the help of two nice beergeeks that were sitting on the bar too. Two of these beers were from the book: Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout and Haandbryggeriet Dark Force. The former’s a pretty cool beer: slightly smoky, chocolate aroma, with chocolate sweetness and a little dry bitterness in the mouth. Bitter, chocolate finish, hops, full body, and smooth, very mild carbonation. The latter, that hails from Norway, pours black, opaque with a mocha colour head and smells amazing: slightly peaty, dry ash and prunes. It also tastes awesome:smoky, bitter, ashtray dryness in the mouth with a full body and slightly dry and ashy finish. I like my beer to be smoky/ peaty/ roasty/ burnt and Dark Force did the job just fine.

shakespeare dark_force

I also drank/ sampled De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis Wild Turkey Barrel, Mikkeller Santa’s Little Helper 2013 and To Øl Ridiculously Close To Sanity – all three great and from tap.

Following my drinking partners’ recommendations I ordered an APA by Spanish brewery Naparbier, that’s located near Pamplona. The 5 Titius Anniversary is quite alright – definitely better than most of the Spanish craft beer I’ve tried before or after, with fresh floral – jasmine – hoppy aroma, and hoppy bitterness. turns out that one of these guys illustrated a label for Naparbier, so I took a bottle of this beer and shared it at the airport with two members of our group – bar owners from Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion, before checking in. Naparbier The IV Beer Riders was piney and skunky but in a good way. Drank straight from the bottle and in a rush – I had to stop at the duty free to grab a bottle of rum for the home and that mandatory bag of candy for the office.

Rating Naparbier at Bar Animal

Rating Naparbier at the airport

Gouden Carolus Classic, Duchesse de Bourgogne, Mahou Negra, Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, Haandbryggeriet Dark Force are beers #318, #319, #320, #321, #322 I Must Try Before I die

Agent Orange

Despite the hiatus, i still do follow the 1001 book. Ticking overseas, talking friends into scoring me stuff when they are overseas, maintaining a mail-order schedule – the lot. Everything’s documented in a google spreadsheet, shared with beer buddies and potential traders and everything’s colour-coded: pink-on its way to me; blue – a drinking buddy has a bottle; red – own it; light blue – drank it; green – blogged about it. And there’s another colour code, orange – available in Israel. I have always treated code orange beers, compiled with the help of the local crew, as something that’s simply here to stay and never rushed to blog about them.
My bad. My bad and I know it. Hell, Samuel Adams Double Bock’s been off the range for a couple of years now and it’s still orange-coded. I should be paying more attention to the domestic inventory and today I’ve learned my lesson. We were visiting Shachar of Beer and Beyond fame this afternoon. Don’t remember why but he opened the list. I explained the colours to him and his first comment was that soon there will be no O’hara’s in the unholy land. This declaration was followed by a brief update about the departure of Zatec (had we only known two weeks ago, while vacationing in Prague…), Voll Damm (had I known 2 months ago while in the Canary Islands 😦 ) and Wells Banana Bread Beer (if only we were aware of it in September, in our beer trip in Northern England (right. As if we would’ve bothered then…)).
From Shachar’s we went to visit my gradma. Distraught, i phoned Porter and Sons and inquired about the availability of O’Hara’s stout. They still had it on tap, so from savta’s we headed straight there, sat in  the corner, asked maybe they still had a stray bottle of Wells Banana Bread, got a no for an answer and ordered, a glassful of O’Hara’s Irish Stout, maybe for the last time ever. A little creamy, a little dry, smooth and bitter. Looking tjrough my Untapped account I had drank it a few times over the past year. It is just that the beer was so everywhere that I thought i could procrastinate.
So O’Hara’s Irish Stout is beer #310 i must try before i die and this entry was typed entirely on my cellphone. Forgive the typos, ignore the carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Getting Things Done

I promised to myself I’d tick 300 beers by Rosh HaShana. Due to circumstances, aka long shifts at the coal mines, allow me to extend my deadline til Saturday. Got 19 more beers to write about so the upcoming posts are going to be as much down-to-earth lists as possible.

First is last – last night’s last drink at the last spot in the pub crawl we joined after the holiday dinner. Vova from Laughing Buddha beer was posting pictures on Facebook, we returned to town, I switched to flats and we hopped along to the last 3 pubs in their rounds. It was 3 a.m when we hit Florentin 10 in Florentin neighbourhood in Tel Aviv and the Murphy’s Irish Stout I ordered was decent than the previous rounds. Taps weren’t infested, keg was relatively fresh. Not big fan of commercial stouts, it was fine: less creamy than Guinness, caramel and faintly roasted.

We drank De Koninck for the first time in Antwerp a couple of years ago and then a couple of months back on a lazy Saturday afternoon at home, in front of an episode of Mad Men, before the mediocre 6th season hit us. Bottle.  Faint berry jam,sweet malty aroma, pleasing bitterness with a sweet notch and a biscuity finish make a nice, refreshing beer.

Het Kapittel Watou Prior is nice as well, but far from being refreshing and fun, with 9% abv. It is a full-bodied beer with dried fruit, burnt rubber and raisins aroma, bitter, fruity, yeasty, plastic-y and spicy taste,  and spicy finish.

Another Belgian beer we drank recently is Gulden Draak, 10.5% abv, Belgian, of course. Cookiedough, spices and a little alcohol in the nose, sweet, alcoholic, spicy but not offensive in the mouth. It was a rather pleasing beer and the high alcoholic volume wasn’t too apparent

going through my list of to-blog beers, I see that Adnams Broadside was neglected. Troubles shared it a long time ago. As we’re getting ready to our short English expedition, I’m getting all excited about ales and  such, but my notes say that this beer wasn’t that exciting: candy and black pepper aroma, sweet taste with bitter undertones, medium body and smooth texture. It was probably a little old when we tasted it.

Another one from a tasting of yore is Ringwood Old Thumper from Portland, Maine. I believe we had an old bottle, as its aroma, other than being floral and sweet was a little mold-ish. It tasted bitter and had some honey notes too, and a syrupy finish. Not good, again, probably old.

Let’s finish this entry with a German beer. Köstritzer Schwarzbier, the bottle that Tumblr Jenna brought us, was familiar. We first drank it with Jenna 10 years ago, when we first met her in Berlin. Can’t find anything symbolic about drinking it again in Israel, but whatever – it’s a good beer. Malt, some sugar, chocolate – like a fresh malt beverage –  and some grass in the nose. Taste is sweet and a little more bitter than malt beverage. Dryish malty finish, medium body. Easy to drink and quite nice.

The above were beers #282, #283, #284, #285, #286, #287 and #288 I Must Try Before I Die. I really don’t have time to look for pictures and stuff because I have a beer trip to England to plan, so take it text-only this time.

Bye Bye.

Meet Me at the Castle

Dr. Troubles was sent to Johannesburg on an urgent mission – beer hunting, of course. He brought back 1/3 of the South African delegation to the 1001 Expedition, that contains 6 different beers. While there, he spotted other goodies from the book, but pubs over there are not allowed to sell for outside consumption. Oh well. We’ll have to send him there again.

Castle Lager and Castle Milk Stout is brewed by Castle brewery in Johannesburg. Castle merged with other South African Breweries to form SAB that later merged with Miller to form the SAB Miller conglomerate. I didn’t know all this until a couple of minutes ago, while conducting a quick research for this entry. Maybe that explains the shittiness of those beers.

castle lager

Legacy of Brutality

Castle Lager is very pale, has a piss-like, malty, with a little corn water aroma and a metallic, bland, slightly bitter and overall yucky aroma. It has a light body and corny finish and I wouldn’t drink it again.

prettier in real life

prettier in real life

Castle Milk Stout is a really strange beer. Less good and has more commercial appeal than other milk stouts we drank in this mission. It’s a pretty beer: very dark and opaque red with a dark yellow-light brown head. Aroma: sweet and milky. Taste: sweet, a little metallic (it’s the cans) and a little bitter. It’s a smooth beer with a milky finish. Better than the pale lager but still far from being amazing.

These two are beers #249 and #250 I Must Try Before I Die. Thank you Troubles for going through all this trouble.

None More Black.

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There’s something about this that’s so black, it’s like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.

(Nigel Tufnel, This Is Spinal Tap)

The 1001 Beers book is filled with BS. We have finished around 25% of the book and in the 100+ entries bumped into quite a few mediocre brews and a bunch of beers that for lack of more powerful words can be only described as atrocities. Many of the beers that fall to the above-written adjectives are products of Big Breweries. The object of this post is a Diageo product, but one that doesn’t need a 1001 beers list: it belongs to *any* must-try beer list. Like it or not – Guinness is a classic, a must-try, which can’t be ignored. In fact, it is such an attention whore that it is listed 3 times in the book!

I am not a big Guinness fan. I usually like my stouts to be drier and roastier and Big Brewery stouts tend to feel too crowd-pleasing in my mouth. When I go out to a common bar that stocks the local duopoly’s products, I’d usually opt for a German wheat beer or the local, ever popular Goldstar (mental note: gotta write about Goldstar already!). But when I do crave Guinness I become a picky bitch: I’d only drink it in places known for their Guinness, where the pipes and taps are being taken care of and the kegs are replaced within a couple of days tops.

This is why The Secret Agent and I walked to Amiram’s Pub the other week. This small, homey, quiet public house is located in the northern part of the city, in a quiet corner just across the street from the busy clubbing area, Tel Aviv Port. I saw Amiram for the first time many years ago, before The Secret Agent and I moved to Tel Aviv – hell, it was even before we met really – the outer mural, lack of any sign and the fact that it was always closed when I passed by it on Friday nights misled me to think that it’s some sort of Guinness training/ marketing center. I tried to google pictures of the outside, but instead found many photos from our Hebrew blog, so you’ll have to trust me on that.

Anyway, Amiram is one of the city’s oldest existing pubs – it’s been around since the 1970’s, family owned and operated, sold a couple of years ago to a customer, and was recently sold back to the family.

trinkets and clutter!

trinkets and clutter!

The small space, not much bigger than a living room, is filled with souvenirs, old liquor bottles and beerchendise from days of yore. We sat on a wooden table, in front of the best promo shot Guinness ever did and drank our glasses of black gold. Amiram’s Guinness pours perfectly, with a finger-thick creamy tan head and no shamrock doodling. It starts with a delicate chocolate aroma followed by delicately bitter taste that my tongue that’s so used to hardcore-coffee-wooden stouts finds hard to grasp. The body is medium and the finish is delicate and smooth, a little watery even. With all the merchandise and dedication, Amiram Pub probably pours a perfect pint, but the beer itself is, well, Big-Brew stout.

Other than Guinness as we know it, the 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die lists two other Guinnesses. The first is Guinness Foreign Extra Stout a %7.5 abv,  sold in bottles and marketed all over. Shachar shared it in a recent tasting and I liked it alot: wine, a little roast, a little fruit, a little sugar and coffee aroma and roasty, coffee, bitter taste. The beer has full body and roasty dry finish and is less creamy than the usual Guinness. It is not a nice beer and I like it for this.  In that tasting we also tried Guinness Special Export – Belgian version of the Foreign Extra Stout with 8% abv. that’s brewed in Ireland especially for Benelux. Its aroma is little milky and fruity with rich chocolate notes, and its taste is dry and reminds me of bittersweet chocolate. Chocolate is present in the finish and the body is lighter than the regular, slightly less alcoholic Foreign Extra Stout.

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in the pic: genuine quality and a bottle of guinness

The third Guinness in the book is also Guinness Foreign Extra – the Nigerian version. Same abv. as the regular Foreign Extra, but brewed locally since colonial times. Apparently Nigeria is the second largest market for Guinness in the world. Marketing strategy and campaigns over there are local – no Bloomsday or Saint Patrick, but rather football and local imagery. The Irish harp logo remains though. The Beer Greek brought a can of Nigerian Guinness from a business trip. It smells sweet, fruity, faintly alcoholic like cheap wine and has some blackcurrants too – a rather nice aroma actually. It tastes like sweet wine and thankfully its texture lacks the nitro-smoothness that I usually don’t like. Full-bodied, fizzy with a long, fruity finish and quite interesting.

Out of the four, the I think that the Irish Foreign Extra Stout is the best, but nothing beats Amiram’s ambiance.

All three Guinnesses have rightfully gained their pages in the book and Guinness, Guinness Foreign Extra (Ireland) and Guinness Foreign Extra (Nigeria) are beers #242, #243 and #244 I Must Try Before I Die.

Sinning again.

LeftHand.MilkStout duck-rabbit-milk-stout

This is an entry about milk stout. I’m vegan. milk stout contains lactose, which is cow-stuff and thus isn’t vegan. There is no way to play around – mea culpa. However, of the two beers I’m reviewing in this entry, one was sipped from a bottle that a friend shared. The other arrived in a package that I had no say about its contents.

So, why adding lactose to beer? It adds sweetness and body to the beer, they say. We sampled the nitro version of Left Hand Milk Stout, that gives the beer an extra creaminess. The 1001 book tells that “brewmaster Dick Doore had to carefully explain that [Left Hand Milk Stout] included no dairy products” –  well, it has lactose. This beer has a creamy, milky aroma and the taste is a little sour but also sweet and the texture is smooth and really soft. I hate to write that it’s a good beer.

The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout hails from Farmville(!), North Carolina and is so lactic that the allergic among us actually had to call-in sick the day after we shared a bottle. It is black, opaque and has a tan head. The aroma has this chocolate-milk sweetness and something that reminds us of cornflakes, with a hint of roastiness, too. It tastes sweet, chocolatey, a little sweetened coffee with hints of milky sourness. The body’s heavy, and despite the heaviness and the fizz, it is an easy-to-drink beer, with a long-lasting chocolate aftertaste.

Left Hand Milk Stout and The Duck Rabbit Milk Stout are beers #223 and #224 I Must Try Before I Die.

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