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 “Porter and Sons”

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 ūüė¶ ) 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.

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.


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, L√∂wenbr√§u 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.

A Nightcap of Bitburger

I’ve been spending most of the holiday on my own. It’s the first holiday in a long time that The Secret Agent is busy, too busy to hang out with me. Also, Other than a beer tasting (more info soon) and meeting two girlfriends for a quick afternoon drink, I’ve been studying at home most of the time. It’s actually pretty cool. It’s rare, having the apartment all to myself, spending time by myself. Also, the cats seem more relaxed when I’m home. No tantrums or attention-seeking that take place when I come home from work. Maybe my true call is being a stay at home mom for Miza and Yossi?

The Secret Agent came home late today and I suggested we’d go out to unwind. Lacking any better alternative we found ourselves sitting on Porter and Sons’ bar, once again staring at the taps like a teenager looking at her full closet and thinking that she has nothing to wear. I ordered Bitburger Premium Pils, German lager that hails from the city of Bitburg, which we drove by on our Euro Beer Expedition last October. The Secret Agent reminded me that I had drank it before, but that applies to the other 49 taps at the Porter and Sons (and pretty much to the 70 bottled beers in the fridge).

Bitbutger Pils is a nice. crisp golden lager, bubbly with a quick dissolving white head and a typical grainy-malt aroma. Graininess is apparent in the mouth as well, with malty taste and finish. With a light body and fun fizz it’s a decent beer, especially for the summer. At home I discovered that it’s also a beer I must try before I die. #34 out of 1001.

an accidental gathering

One thing I like about following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die is that while the acquisition of many beers that are listed in the book requires hunting, hustling and harassing, plenty of others are just there, available everywhere. Like Fuller’s ESB. I drank it last Monday. Met The Gorgeous Blond after work at the Porter and Sons resto-bar in Tel Aviv, to belatedly celebrate her birthday. There are 50 beers on tap at the Porter and about 70 different bottles. I fancied something relatively¬†light, compared to the¬†wintery Belgian ales that grace the menu,¬†and opted for the ESB, the first beer that The Secret Agent and I write about in our Hebrew blog.

Beer arrived at the table and my note-taking amused The Gorgeous Blond enough to take out her android and shoot:

note the unrelated coaster: that's the new HaDubim Brewery coaster that was immediately added to my collection.

Fuller’s ESB was served with a big white head on top of the clear dark ruby-coloured liquid. It has a grainy aroma with very faint hnts of honey and fruity hoppiness. Honey is faintly apparent in its taste, along with light bitterness. The light-to-medium body properly held the rich and balanced goodness.

Look at this beauty

photos by Ophira Strenberg.

¬†After dinner we split. The gorgeous Blond took a bus to the southern town where she crashes til she moves back to the city, I took a bus to my neighbourhood, transferred my notes to ratebeer and moved on. Then, yesterday, The Secret Agent and I opened the 1001 Beers book. Secret Parents-In-Law are visiting the family in California and were kind enough to agree to bring us a couple of bottles. We flipped through the book, looking for not-too-obscure craft beers, when I accidentally opened page 129 and saw Fuller’s ESB’s entry. So here it is then, Beer #14 I must try before I die, effortlessly gathered in one of Tel Aviv’s nicest bars/ restaurants.


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