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 “Hoegaarden”

Live Blogging

We just came back from an event hosted by Mr. Colin Scott, Master Blender of Chivas Regal, who is visiting Israel. Drank some cool Chivas-based cocktails, a nice portion of rich, condensed and a little smoky Chivas 25, Chivas 18 and water – diluted by the Master Blender himself and enjoyed meeting friends and colleagues off-hours. We munched on so many dried fruit that not only are we not tipsy, but we have some capacity for beer. This, and the lack of space in our fridge and the fact that tomorrow we’re hosting a session that requires some shelf space, are good enough reasons for a night cap or two. First is St, Bernardus Tripel – long time since we last drank this Abbey ale. I used to love these beers when I first started drinking, but my taste has shifted since. Anyway, I’m enjoying this one: It pours cloudy amber with a small foamy head. I smell peach, some clove, a little alcohol and maybe butterscotch candy. The taste is slightly bitter, rich and fruity – peach again, mostly sweet and very, very lightly sour – in a fruity sort of way. Full-bodied, carbonated, long, peach and apple finish. Not bad, I’d drink it again.

Next is Maredsous Bruin, or rather Maredsous 8, that pours dark brown with a pretty, big beige head. Pretty beer. I smell prune and some raisins and taste dried fruit and vanilla. It’s nice. There’s also some chocolate. Full-bodied, long, finish with hints of carob. Haven’t drank this beer for ages too, and I like it more than I thought I would.

Me and Maredsous

Me and Maredsous

 

As I’m writing this text, I’m also updating ratebeer and my Beer Gatherer Tracking list. It’s a colour-coded Google document, that’s so ahead of this blog it’s beyond embarrassing. While I’m at it, allow me to write about Hoegaarden Grand Cru, that I last drank in November or December. I love Belgian Witbier and I love Hoegaarden. Grand Cru, an 8.7% abv, is lethal: it’s a cloudy amber beer with white head that doesn’t look too suspicious. It has a dry apricot candy, orange, clementine and coriander aroma and yeasty juicy bitterness. Full-bodied, bubblegum finish, very drinkable and the 8.5%ABV aren’t too apparent. Quite an amazing beer it was, and if it was still available in Israel – the distribution stopped about 3 years ago – I’m sure I would’ve drank it when I had a chance. Anyway, it’s a live-blogging session, right? Let’s proceed to St. Bernardus Wit, cloudy blond ale and the last for tonight. Its dominant aroma is coriander, but it also has some dried apricot – quite a cool aroma! It tastes rather juicy – mildly bitter and just a little sour and – surprise! – a little malty, too. Unsurprisingly, it’s a full-bodied beer, carbonated, with slightly sour finish. Quite good.

We really didn’t expect to enjoy this little late-night tasting, but surprisingly, the beers appealed to our jaded palates.

St. Bernardus Tripel, Maredsous Bruin, Hoegaarden Grand Cru and St, Bernardus Wit are beers #311, #312, #313 and #314 I Must Try Before I Die.

See you next time!

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US Does Belgium (and vice versa)

Ommegang3

new label art – fancy!

Reading blogs and forums, it seems that for European US is Beer Heaven, whereas Americans, as much as they take pride in their beer, carry their inferiority complex to our beloved beverage. This is not surprising. Give them Italian Sculpting, English literature, Swiss cheese and French luxury bags – and Belgian beers. Two of the finest Belgian beers we came across as of late are actually American.

Brewery Ommegang has two beers in the book We already covered Ommegang Abbey Ale, which we drank at least twice in the past year. The brewery resides in the Belgian colony of Cooperstown, NY, where good beer is made and no arms are cut during the production. The brewery is owned by Duvel Moortgat, whose beers are quite popular in Israel – this keeps my hopes to get Ommebeer in Tel Aviv quite high.  Ommegang Three Philosophers is probably the brewery’s crown jewel: this Quadruple is a blend of 98% Quadruple ale and 2% Liefman Kriek. This results in a layered, complex drink that has cherry and sour elements in the nose as well as alcohol and flowers in bloom. It tastes slightly sour, but also sweet and yeasty. As in other beers I drank from the brewery, this one too is pretty carbonated.

I adored Three Philosophers the first time I drank the beer and I’m glad to say that hundreds of beers later, I still like it alot.

CelisWhiteCelis White is the creation of Pierre Celis, who is the mind behind Hoegaarden. This is another hardcore-Belgian beer that’s brewed in the US, Belgian wheat beer this time. This is a beer with rocky history behind it. After selling Hoegaarden to Interbrew-Labatt in the 80’s due to a financial mess that was caused by fire, Celis family immigrated to Texas where Pierre started brewing under his name. In 1996 Celis Brewery too was sold to a multinational and after the Miller plant where the beer was brewed was shut down a couple of their brands, among them is Celis White, were sold to Michigan Brewery that was closed in 2012. Pierre Celis died in 2011 and a few months ago his family bought back the trademark and is now planning to reopen and brew Pierre Celis’ original recipes in Celis Brewery original hometown, Austin, TX. It’s a story with a happy ending but as of now it is unclear when the beer is available again. Luckily Shachar fetched a bottle on a trip to Germany. I’m glad we don’t have to hunt it down. This is a great Belgian witbier, pale cloudy blond with white head, delicate spicy aroma with the necessary orange peel, sweet taste with sour touch and some petroleum, full body, chewy texture and this unique, delicate balance that makes it all such an enjoyable drink.

Ommegang Three Philosophers and Celis White are beers #195 and #196 I Must Try Before I Die.

Multi-Taps in Israel

Despite the recent craft beer renaissance, With an annual beer consumption of 14L per capita Israel still has a long way to go until it truly becomes a beer country. Like in many other countries, the local industry is dominated by two multinationals: Heineken (represented by Tempo Industries) and Carlsberg (represented by Israeli Beer Breweries). Each markets a number of beers. The former has local icons such as Macabbee, Nesher and Goldstar as well as Murphy’s, Newcastle, Samuel Adams, Paulaner and of course, Heineken. The latter has Wheinstephan, Guinness, Carlsberg, Tuborg (and Israel’s own Tuborg Red), Stella Artois, Leffe and probably a bunch of others. The duopoly enjoys a market share estimated in 95%-98%, which means that until a serious shift in consumers’ taste occurs, importers and local craft breweries hold 2-5% of the market.

The way things are, it is a miracle that Israelis are actually in the business of making and marketing beer  in the first place and a wonder that there are bars that serve more than the taps offered to them by the big player they are connected to. There are a bunch of places that offer 10 or even 15 taps, but real multi-taps that operate a system consists of 50 taps or more are still a rare sight here. As far as I know there are three bars like that. All three are located in Central Israel.

porterandsonslogoThe first and oldest, i.e being in operation for 3 years or so is Porter and Sons in Tel Aviv city center. Opened by industry veterans, owners of Norma Jean bistro/ former owners of Norman bar/ the people behind Norman Premium who import brands such as Duvel Moortgat, Chimay, Brooklyn Brewery and Fuller’s. With 50 beers on tap, dozens of bottles and special keg-events in occasions such as Independence Day (Israeli craft beers), Oktoberfest and winter – time for heavy Belgian ales, this is a favourite spot and a must for beer lovers. We sit at the Porter and Sons quite alot and the place has been mentioned in the blog before. Recent visits yielded notes about Erdinger Dunkel on tap, that had sweet plastic, caramel, malt and raisin aroma and sweetish yet slightly bitter taste. Of all the German beer available in Israel, I think that Erdinger is our least favourite. It just isn’t as great as other, even commercial, German brands have.

hoegaarden

I also got to drink a couple of Belgian beers there lately: Hoegaarden is widely available and its jar-sized glass can be seen in plenty of bars, only The Secret Agent and I don’t frequent plenty of bars. Visit The Beer Gatherer’s Facebook page to see where we usually drink – we posted a link to DSG’s picture gallery that sums it up. Syncing my 1001 follow-up list  to my Andriod allowed me on our last visit to the bar to look up beers that need to be sampled, so Hoegaarden it was, and it was not bad at all – quite good even. Fresh, citrusy, chewy and as rich as Belgian wheat beer gets. We also ordered Tripel Karmeliet on tap. I used to love Karmeliet but now it’s just too sweet and heavy on my taste buds, with too much honey and too much flower.

2 more multi-tap bars joined the local scene last summer. Both are located in the monstrous suburb Rishon LeZion (which is actually the 4th largest city in the country). 55 Drafts & More is a corporate bar that is a part of a cinema multiplex in the western industrial area. Size matters, the owners think, and quantity counts more than quality. Mostly commercial beer, apathetic staff and high prices to captured audience or perhaps an audience that doesn’t really care about beer and is just happy to have another faceless, soulless night out option in the ‘burbs.

The Pirate Pub is the complete opposite. Located on the other side of town, in the old eastern industrial area in what used to  be a wedding hall and then a night club that caters to the Russian immigrant crowd, the Pirate is huge, filled with endless wooden boots and a great, rustic atmosphere. Despite the trilingual menu, it is clear that the target audience is Russian: the food served there is not your typical bar food but mostly Russian dishes, the beer in the 50 taps includes plenty of German and Czech brews that are popular among this crowd, the staff is Russian and so is the default language you’ll be approached to. The rustic atmosphere mentioned above is expressed in the relaxed, homey feeling on one hand, but on the other hand it is also apparent in the somewhat low-maintenance of the taps and some lack of knowledge among the friendly and willing staff.

The Pirate Pub. This goes on and on (note the ceiling)

The Pirate Pub. This goes on and on (note the ceiling)

Being Tel Avivians who don’t drink and drive but are also too busy to take the long bus ride to the suburb we don’t frequent the Pirat as much as we would have liked. Last time we visited was 3 months ago. They threw an Oktoberfest event with Bischoff Kellerbier, Löwenbräu Oktoberfestbier and Tucher Bergkirchweih Festbier on tap. We drank them all and also took a mug of Gambrinus Premium that was a bit old but we drank it anyway because it’s a pretty hard to get pils. Its aroma was delicate and crispy and it tasted somewhat sweet and a little medicinal – not what you’d expect to taste. Old. The Pirate Pub is one of those places where it’s good to ask what’s popular or keg was recently replaced, but despite all its flaws, which might have been fixed since our visit, it’s one of the nicer places for beer in central Israel.

Erdinger Dunkel, Hoegaarden, Tripel Karmeliet and Gambrinus Premium are beers #163′ #164, #165 and #166 I Must Try Before I Die.

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