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 tag “Beerlao”

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.

North by Southeast

before sharing.

Last week we picked up DSG, drove to Haifa, ate the best falafel in the entire universe and headed to Nimrod, the alco-wizard kid from The Attic , who has just returned from a 6 week trip in Laos with a bottle of Laobeer and 3 bottles of Lao-Lao. He posted an invitation at the wine and alcohol forum to join him and take tasting notes, The Secret Agent and I jumped on the opportunity to try new stuff and meet Nimrod and DSG couldn’t miss the opportunity to add yet another country to his beer tasting list. We were joined by our good friend and master mixologist Padod and the northern branch of the small Ratebeer community, E and Y. DSG, E and Y are beer-curious, Padod doesn’t understand what the beer-fuss is all about but is easily tempted with distilled stuff and The Secret Agent and I will try almost* anything.

We started with three different Lao-Laos: rice whiskey distilled in the villages, drank by locals, claimed for 50%ABV  and sold in 60oml plastic bags for less than a dollar a bag. Nimrod transferred the content of the bags he bought to bottles, labeled them with the name of the villages and measured the actual content (anything between 42 to 48%).  We spotted differences between the three: First was sweet and smelled like porridge; second had honey and plastic, tasted hot and had burnt plastic aftertaste. Nimrod says it’s probably from a plastic part (container?) used in the heating process. Third smelled like kumquat, burnt a little less and tasted a little bitter.

It was different, for sure. Not a sipper, not a mixer, not in my world – the other, cocktail-geek world, that is. Also, after tripping over homemade Yemenite Arak at a restaurant in one of the suburbs, I try to keep away from moonshine. However, if it has Nimrod’s seal of approval, I feel safe. We also drank Mongolian vodka that was slightly sweet and not as oily as vodka as we know it, and sampled baijiu before we headed to the beer part or the tasting.

So, Beerlao Dark Lager. One of the three Beerlaos available in Laos (the other two are pale and golden), and one of the two that appear in the book.  It’s clear brown in colour, with a foamy, thin white head. Aroma is malt, some grain, toasty and a little sweet. Tastes delicately bitter with sweet caramel tones and has a toasty finish, light body and a fair balance. Overall a decent beer, one that’s perfect for hot days which I understand are not quite rare in this part of the world.

I’ve never been anywhere east of Taybeh, Palestine – I feel right at home in the West and have not had the desire to travel in Asia so naturally, local touristic beer culture is foreign to me. Imagine my surprise on the day after the tasting, when I spotted one of the douchebags at the gym wearing a wifebeater endorsed with Beerlao’s label. Apparently the beer is “[…] finding flavor with the growing number of tourists now visiting the landlocked but scenically stunning part of Southeast Asia”.

Either way, Beerlao is the 61st beer I Must Try Before I Die. Who’s flying there and bringing me the pale lager?

*had the silkworm poo tea Nimrod brewed before we left not nested inside cocoons, I’d have drank it for sure.

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