It all started last March, when The Secret Agent, aka my partner, lover, roommate, BFF and husband of 9+ years and I drove to Mate’ Yehuda Craft Beer Fest. We went to say hello to our friend, brewer/ liquor maker/ cheesemaker Aram from Abeer Ha’Ella brewery and he introduced us to the guy at the nearby stall. It was Shachar Hertz, owner of Beer and Beyond, who was selling a small book he had recently published: Beer Brands in Israel 2011 (Hebrew alert!).
I knew of the book before – a friend or two liked its Facebook page, but it was the first time I saw it. Schachar was nice, I was probably already in a good beer mood so I schlepped some of my beer money and bought us a copy.
Later that day at home, The Secret Agent and I looked through the book. Some 250 beers that are commercially sold in Israel (at the time of editing, as we learned later) are catalogued there, about 35% of which we had already drank before. I thought it would be cool to drink them all by the end of 2011. I also thought it would be cool to blog about it and beerdrinking.wordpress.com (Hebrew alert!) was born.
Thus began our Year of Beer (or 9 month, which led to the birth of this very blog, if you wish), a year in which we took the one-way-ticket to Beergeekdom. We drank from tap and at home, in brewpubs and mall bars; drove 100 miles to a small southern town just to drink draught Goldstar; crossed grim checkpoints to taste freshly-brewed Taybeh; invited friends over for cross-tasting of some 9 Baltikas and learned that it’s ok to pour beer that sucks; walked into Russian mini marts with lists in our pockets; and learned that true happiness is a dusty, out of date bottle of mediocre lager that is no longer imported to the Unholy Land on the back of a bottom shelf in walk-in fridge at a gas stop somewhere in the north.
And then, without us noticing, it just wasn’t enough. We joined a Beer of the Month Club and then another beer club. I signed up to Ratebeer “just for the ticks” and then “maybe for place rating” and then I found myself drinking with a notebook yet without much time to transfer the tasting notes to the site. We organized tastings, were invited to tastings (a memorable one being a blind tasting of all Bavarian-style wheat beers available in Israel and then some – what was it? 19 beers in 2 hours?) and in October took a 2-week trip to Southern Germany and Belgium where we shared 100 beers in cool cafe’s and classic Brauhausen (can any German in the crowd correct this?). The Secret Agent and I were enjoying the ride and had no intention to stop once the year and the Beer Brands in Israel 2011 book end.
A Comparative Literature undergrad, reference books and bibliographies are my comfort zone. In order to stay focused I bought us a new companion, that unlike the compact Israeli book that was easy to take along, sits at home, near the computer or on the coffee table: 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die (of liver failure?). This time, no deadline. The Journey is the destination. Since the Israeli beer market is tiny I thought it would be a good idea to document this phase in English, so here we are, in the world of liquor stores and mail-orders, road trips and begging. Trading too, maybe. I will also use this blog to share notes from the emerging local beer scene – tasting notes, brewery visits and general thoughts and when I get a raise and more paid holidays you’ll get to read about Beer Abroad.
So here it is and here I am.
Enjoy the ride,