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 “Dancing Camel”

1001 Beer Quest Hits Tel Aviv!

Have you ever read the description of this blog? It begins with “Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular […]”, followed by the 1001 thing. Yet, not many entries are categorized under Beer in Israel. My Hebrew blog remains the hub of my Israeli beer entries, which tend to be both informative and critical. Local beer writing in the Beer Gatherer are supposed to be all shiny and bubbly, and introduce our small but growing industry to the English-reading world. Alas, with a full time job, 2 blogs, Ratebeer account maintenance and lots and lots of beer tastings that help me reach my 1001 goal, the Israeli aspect of this blog has been neglected. Also, due to the high cost of living in this country we had to sell our car. During the week it’s pretty cool, as public transportation to work, the city center and our local pub (we’ll get to the pub shortly) is frequent and effective, but it also means that we no longer jump into the car and visit breweries and far away pubs whenever we feel like.

This Sukkot holiday finally brings forth an entry about Israeli beer. Dancing Camel Brewing Company were the subject of the blog’s second entry. I wrote about their Cherry Vanilla Stout brewed for Hannukah, and 3 seasons later comes the Trog Wit. More than any other breweries around, DC are big on Seasonals, that in their world relate to Jewish Holidays: Carrobian Stout that’s brewed for Tu Bishvat, New Year of the Trees that’s celebrated by eating dried fruit, such as dried carobs;  613 – annual brewing of one of the brewery’s regular ales infused with pomegranates for Rosh HaShana. There’s also the full moon Golem, honors the legend on The Golem of Prague, an iced version of the IPA that’s served at the brewpub every month on full moon, with changing, tend-to-extreme abv. Beer is not kosher for Passover so there’s no seasonal at this time of the year, though more iced versions of the regular beers are served at the traditional Kick the Keg party held at the Brewpub.

And now comes Sukkot, with pretty neat traditions (saith the atheist), like having guests and sleeping under the stars and also special prayers and blessings such as the one for the Four Species. Etrog, The fruit of citron tree (aka yellow citron or citron medica), is one of the Species, to which are attributed both taste and aroma – hey, the two most important features in beer! – is the focal point of this seasonal.  ‘Trog Wit is based on Dancing Camel Hefe Wit, a Belgian-style wheat beer, but instead of the orange peel addition there are heaps of Etrogim. We drank it on the first day of Sukkot, at the pub, along with a glass of Golem (most Jewish holidays take place on the full moon), although it’s hard to say we went there especially for this seasonal. If there’s an assassin out there, looking for The Secret Agent and/ or me, they’d better head down to the Dancing Camel brewpub. That’s our main hub, where we pamper our livers when not in group tastings (and sometimes there are group tastings AT the Dancing Camel).

L-T-R: dancing Camel Golem and `Trog Wit

Anyway, you probably wanna read about the `Trog Wit, right? Well, it’s a cloudy and light coloured beer with banana and delicate flowery aroma accompanied by cool tartness. It tastes a little sour but also bubblegum sweet with a long, fruity finish that’s also a little sour.

‘Trog Wit’s a cool beer, refreshing and so suitable to the Israeli autumn which is actually summer with some showers. Moreover, it really captures the spirit of Brewmaster David Cohen, who immigrated to Israel with an intention to open the first ever microbrewery in this country, combining local ingredients, American brewing style and Jewish tradition for unique niche seasonals. Also, `Trog Wit is the one Israeli beer represented in the 1001 Book. Choosing this one is pretty strange, because not only is it available only in Israel, it is available only for a limited time every year and only at the Dancing Camel brewpubs, both are in Tel Aviv. Served only on tap, I won’t be surprised to find out about just as hard-to-get New Zealandi, Brazilian or South African beers. I need to save money for beer travel, I guess. Anybody wants to buy a kidney? Ovules? A liver lobe?

Meanwhile, that’s beer #116 I Must Try Before I Die.

Israeli Beer Tax

I was going to write about the tasting that took place last Wednesday, but drinking notes has been the last thing since this tasting. As we were gathering, the newsflash appeared on the smartphones screens. Israel arrogant Prime Minister and his puppet Minister of Finances raised the tax on beer production.

Raised? Nearly doubled.

Why beer? Because they can, I guess.

See, wine making isn’t taxed. Why? because they can’t. Wine has a powerful lobby backed by kiddush-saying voters.

This came as a shock to the small, expanding, thriving beer community here in the country. To the people who put their love and money on equipment and facilities. To those who grew and needed to hire workers and provide income to more people. To their families. To the tourism and hospitality industries, small retail stores, and fans of craft beer.

Pioneer brewer David Cohen from the Dancing Camel Brewing Co. posted the following words in PM Netanyahu’s Facebook page. David makes great beer and owns the coolest pub in Tel Aviv and I’m shamelessly copying his letter to this blog. We don’t see eye to eye on most sociopolitical issues and some of the sentiments expressed in his letter are far from anything Your Humble Servant stands for, but please read. Change a word here, a sentence there, and you’ll get the story of more than 20 craft brewers and and an unknown number of homebrewers who are eager to join the local craft beer revolution.

July 29, 2012

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

My name is David Cohen. I made Aliya from New Jersey nine years ago. Six years ago I founded the Dancing Camel Brewing Company in Tel Aviv, Israel’s first production microbrewery. I asked for no government subsidy, I received no government handout. I invested my own money – every last penny that I saved from working for 20 years as a CPA in New York. I brought additional investment – from the US, from Russia, from people who were excited about the mission of the brewery – to reestablish a culture that traces its roots in Judaism back thousands of years.

It has not been easy, Mr. Prime Minister. Whether from the language, the business culture, or the stifling beauracracy, I have endured obstacles at every stage of the way. I have endured personal traumas as well, including a divorce that stemmed from our Aliya and the loss of my children as a result. I have done this because I refused to be shaken from the belief that this is my home and that this is where the history of the Jewish people will be written for the next 2000 years. My father ז”ל used to refer to Israel as a “Tiny Dam” with torrents of water pushing from all sides. One more person pushing on the wall could be the difference between the wall collapsing or the wall standing firm for our children.

Mr. Prime Minister, I know that you are responsible for the well-being of the entire nation. I know that you have a monumental task in trying to keep the Israeli economy healthy while the rest of the world is in shambles. I voted for you because I believed in you and I share your philosophy of fiscal restraint. And I am prepared to shoulder my burden, as I’m sure most of the Israeli public is, when it comes to income tax, VAT and any other tax that falls uniformly on the population. However, last week, your finance-minister’s office levied a tax on beer production that will quite frankly, shut my business. I can not absorb a tax increase that literally doubled overnight since my business is struggling as it is. I will be forced to pass this tax on and as a result, sales will fall. I will be forced to fire our workers and shut our doors. I will be left with nothing after nine years of Aliya, other then the staggering debts which I have personally accumulated.

I am not alone, Mr. Prime Minister. The Boutique Beer industry in Israel is only just now getting off the ground. With over 25 licensed breweries, we have brought tourism, employment and national pride to a global industry that traces its very roots to this region. These breweries have been started, largely by individuals with similar stories to mine. People with a dream, a passion and the drive to build something from their own sweat and money, where nothing previously existed. I ask you Mr. Prime Minister – are these the type of people you want to drive into bankruptcy?

Bibi, I am imploring you, I am begging you, for my own well being but also for the well-being of the country, don’t cast away people like us. You know that back in the US I would have 100 congressmen clamoring to sign a petition. Here, I do not know where else to turn.

Very truly yours,

David Cohen
The Dancing Camel Brewing Co., Ltd.

Alpha Geeks

A couple of weeks ago and fashionably late the birthday present from my Awesome Little Brother arrived: a carefully packed parcel, contained three pieces of “collectible glassware” from his new city of residence and home, New York, New York.  Always happy to support his sister’s obsessions, my Awesome Little Brother consulted The Secret Agent and took me 2 steps down the 1001 road with two IPA’s and tucked in a third, mission-unrelated IPA that’s supposed to be good.

Beer tastes better in company, and thus we brought along one of the bottles to a tasting that took place at the Dancing Camel brewpub. Around the table gathered Ratebeerians, bloggers, brewers, entrepreneurs and a beer mercenary, some with notebooks, others without, and sipped through the 13 beers pictured below in order of drinking  (left-to-right).

Lucky 13 (thanks for the pic, Schachar).

I am one of those who were taking notes. The next day I compared my notes to the book and was happy to realize that besides the bottle we brought, two more of the beer we sampled are in the book; 3 steps in one evening, I’m almost, just almost, half way through 🙂

Tasting notes by order of drinking, in order to save the best for last.

It was Shachar from Beer and Beyond who brought Pilsner Urquell. It may seem a little odd among all those micros and ales that dominate the picture, but that was a bottle of unfiltered  unpasteurized (of course it’s unpasteurized, being clear and all how can it be unfiltered? thanks DSG for correcting) beer. I believe it’s not even commercially available here; Shachar may have received his bottle from the importers. It pours clear golden with quickly dissolving head and brought a rich, malty scent to my nostrils, with hints of honey and sweetness. It tasted bitter and hoppy but it was a different sort of bitter than the other stuff we sampled yesterday. It’s body was light, carbonation soft and the finish dry. It was a fresh, light beer  and writing about it makes me miss summer. I think that a visit to the Czech restaurant in the city center is inevitable (hell yes it’s inevitable! Just checked out Little Prague’s website to see if they still serve Urquell and learned that they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary this very week, with 10nis. halves!).

Zvika from Ratebeer supplied us with Stone IPA. The Secret Agent and drank Stone for the first time in 2007, on our cross-country road trip. We were shopping for beer in Wholefoods San Diego, on our way to a mountain cabin near Julian, to meet my friend, artist and dollmaker Lynn Dewart for the first time and celebrate her birthday. We picked stone because the gargoyle looked cool. Don’t even remember which Stone it was then (pale ale, maybe?). Anyway, I loved that IPA. It pours cloudy orange with light foam, bears fun aroma of orange and citrus, bitterness dry and fun as well – and a dry finish, fair carbonation and a light body that somehow holds everything together almost perfectly.

Laughing Dog’s AlphaDog Imperial IPA sealed the tasting on an EXTREMELY bitter note. Its bitterness goes to eleven and its IBU to 127. It pours cloudy golden with a medium head and I smelled maple candy, honey, some grass and citrus. The taste, as you can guess was extreme and edgy. No balance between the nose and the mouth, but I think that’s the point here. It finished on a long and dry note and I loved it. I know I would’ve loved it less had it been a bottle shared by another attendee, one that wasn’t sent by my Awesome Little Brother, but what the hell.

Laughing Dog AlphaDog Imperial IPA,Stone India Pale Ale (IPA),Pilsner Urquell (unpasteurized), 4,5,6/1001 Beers I must try before I die.

Hannukah Beer

I actually didn’t plan to post something today, but after logging in to Ratebeer and seeing all that red-and-white in the front page I decided to join the party and write about the seasonal I drank on Thursday and then on Saturday evening.

Being my current Local, I believe that The Dancing Camel brewpub and the beers brewed in its premises will be covered quite extensively in this blog. On top of the ~4 regular beers on tap, David the owner is all about seasonal and festive beers. Hanukkah’s is Cherry Vanilla Stout. Heavy, sweet and inspired by the traditional jelly donuts that are becoming rather scarce, with fancy coatings and fillings taking up their space on bakery shelves and in people’s bellies. The Secret Agent and I met at the Dancing Camel on Thursday after work for a quick pint before a show we ended up not attending. It was the first time I tried the brew black, opaque liquid that smells heavily of vanilla and a little of espresso, but just a little. The flavours are rich and heavy as well.

I was a little overwhelmed on Thursday and took sips from The Secret Agent’s APA – it was just too sweet and too heavy for me. Then on Saturday night we dropped by again for a second chance. I liked it better yesterday, maybe because I had already known to expect a vanilla blitzkrieg.



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