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 “ratebeer”

Sour but Sweet

jolly_ichtegemRight after publishing the previous post, we rushed to a tasting with our fellow ratebeerians and untappers. It’s been a while since we all met – with The Secret Agent and I being sick, me having to study, us traveling to Spain and them – a whole bunch of them – traveling to the US for a hardcore West Coast beer tour.

For this tasting I grabbed whatever was in the fridge, taking into consideration bottle size (we were supposed to be 10 people at the tasting) and FIFO, and ended up sharing Jolly Pumpkin La Roja and Ichtegems Grand Cru, American and Belgian sour red/brown ales, respectively. Apparently La Roja was one of the first beers shared in an Israeli Ratebeer tasting, way back in 2009. I joined the website in late 2011 and we started attending tastings around that time, I think. It feels like ages, so 2009 is pretty much ancient history. Anyway, I think that Dead Swedish Girl and The Actuary liked this beer even after all these years and the thousands of beers each of them has imbibed. This Flemish beer that’s brewed in Michgen pours murky brown, and smells sour, a little lactic and of cherry yogurt. It has a sour mouthfeel and yet, one can sure taste the grain, which is pretty cool. Body’s relatively light, there’s hardly any carbonation and finish is sour, though mild and tolerable.

Ichtegems Grand Cru comes from the Belgian family-run brewery Strubbe. It is the brewery’s Oud Bruin that’s matured in oak tanks. This one also pours murky brown and smells a little vinous – I sensed grapes and some cherries. Tastes sweetish and not sour at all; it actually tastes a little like sherry – pretty cool! The beer isn’t really carbonated, it is full-bodied and has a long, sherry finish. Really nice, delicate and inoffensive.

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja and Ichtegems Grand Cru are beers #401 and #402 I Must Try Before I Die.

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Dead Swedish Girl reaches 5555 ratings!

budweiser_bong

Above is a picture of the Dead Swedish Girl drinking The King of Beers, to celebrate my 200th beer from The Book and his 1000th American beer rated.

Not to discredit anybody, but Dead Swedish Girl is the reason why us local beergeeks taste and try so many brews; he is the one passionate about trades, obsessed about weekly tastings, beer travels, scoring shitty imported lagers from remote supermarkets and buying (sometimes shitty – I gotta admit) rare lambics and sharing with the rest of us. You want the proof? Stalk me on Ratebeer and see just how many of my notes begin with “Bottle sampled at a tasting at ___’s place. Thanks DSG”.

We decided to commemorate his 5000th rating in an honorable tasting with friends and admirers, but as he reached the number while attending CBC, 5555 was the next best number. T-shirts were printed, a large space located (thank you Evyatar Sadan from Sar Ha’Mashkaot/ Minister of Drinks store in Ramat Gan, for letting us use the second floor and the wine tasting table!). We checked his ratebeer progress, collected a bottles he has yet to rate and on Wednesday, June 18th, gathered around to surprise him, all wearing a t-shirt with a print of the image below:

maran5555

What is Maran? Wikipedia can teach you that “[it] is a title for exceptionally respected rabbis. […] It is an Aramaic word used frequently in the Talmud which means ‘our master’ (מָרַן, māran, ‘our master’). Most often, as the translation indicates, it is given to rabbis who are considered influential teachers and leaders.

Kudos to The Secret Agent for coining this Term and to Rotem the Big Bear for the design. As a true Maran, DSG quickly overcame the shock and lack of control about the happening and organized the bottles according to the proper way of tasting: pale lagers first, the gose and IPA’s, followed by sour, and Belgian beers and finished with the heavy stuff. We had 21 ratable beers in that tasting – a record as far as I recall – followed by a couple of great homebrews. The Secret Agent and I shared a Rhodian pale lager a colleague brought me from a holiday, and two big beers listed in the 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die book, that DSG hasn’t sampled yet.

the traditional pose, with the notebook and the bottle opener that doesn't ruin the caps.

the traditional pose, with the notebook and the bottle opener that doesn’t ruin the caps. photo taken by troubles and stolen from the secret Facebook chat about the 5555 celebration.

collaboration-not-litigationCollaboration Not Litigation by Avery Brewing Co. is a wonderful example of the spirit of craft beer business – the ideal spirit of craft beer business if you wish. When Avery and Russian River discovered that they both named their Belgian-style brews “Salvation”, they decided to blend the two brews. Collaboration… is therefore a mix of two recipes – brewed in Colorado with half of the ingredients shipped from Russian River. This 8.9% abv. Belgian Strong Ale is bronze in colour, smells of ripe fruit and then diluted date honey. It tastes sweet and very fruity, has full body, soft carbonation with long, sweet finish.

smuttynose-wheat_wineSmuttynose Wheat Wine Ale is an 11% abv. barley wine made with plenty of malted wheat too. That’s the beer that closed the ratable part of the tasting. Hazy amber in colour with a brown-beige head, candy, malt, a little dried apricot and old hops aroma are followed by a slightly bitter taste of stale hops and some chocolate. Body’s as full as you’d expect from barley wine – full and heavy. However, other than the apricot notes in the nose and probably the big head, I didn’t feel much wheat in it.

 

Collaboration Not Litigation are beers #331 and #332 I Must Try Before I Die. Many of the next 669 will be drunk with or thanks to Maran.

Old Beers Don’t Die. They Don’t Kill You Either.

grolsch

Marketed in Israel as Grolsch Premium Lager, Grolsch Premium Pilsner is listed in The Book,  perhaps because the editors share my weakness to this classy flip-top clear green bottle.

I must have seen and drank this beer for the first time when I lived in England in the 90’s, either in the city where I lived – a place with a fair share of CAMRA-certified pubs where I got drunk on Hooch and what my ex used to order at the pub – lager, any lager – or in our miserable, rainy trip to the continent in the summer of 1997.  I do remember buying bottles, 3 or 4 bottles for 10nis, in 1998. That’s 2.3 Euro in today’s currency, please don’t ask me for its price in Guilder at that time. I found it at a store in Tel Aviv’s central bus station, skid row then and now, on my way to visit my self-destruction peer who was recovering from a bad car accident he was involved in back in Minneapolis. Neither him nor me knew anything about beer, but we liked getting drunk and these embossed Grolsch bottles looked fancy and fun and they were really cheap for fancy import beer. Only at B’s parents’ place did I looked at the best before date and learned that the product is expired. We didn’t know much about beer but had the common sense to drink it anyway – a year old beer wouldn’t kill us, we thought, and indeed it didn’t.

Years later and drinking expired beer is a part of the routine. They die on their way to Israel from wherever, they die in storage while waiting to be consumed, they die because of less-than-optimal storage conditions, but nevertheless they are consumed, because rating and ticking is my thing and it has nothing to do with imbibing.

For this entry/ ticking I drank an unexpired bottle. I won’t bother sharing my tasting notes with you, my dear readers. Chances are you’ve quenched your thirst with this one before. Bottle’s nice and after cleaning it thoroughly it can be used to store all kinds of things, like simple syrup for your cocktails.

So Grolsch Premium Pilsner is beer #330 I must Try Before I Die.

Rock On

Abbaye des Rocs (brune), one of the first beers in the 1001 book, used to be available in Israel. It is the 6th beer that Dead Swedish Girl ever rated on ratebeer back in 2007 (we’ll celebrate her 4000th rate this week, I think – that’s exciting!) and she liked it so much that she aged a bottle at her parents’ cellar up north, where the weather is slightly less scummy than Tel Aviv’s. Last month she dropped by with The Living Swedish Boy. We ate vegan cake we brought from Romania and shared the 75 cl bottle, with a 2008 best before date.

we tried to show the murkiness

we tried to show the murkiness

Unlike many other Belgian ales, this one has no added sugar but just like many other Abbey beers, this one wasn’t brewed in a monastery. Either way, it is one of the better Belgian Ales I have tasted recently. I am currently not very tolerant towards heavy, sweet beer, but this one is pretty decent actually. It pours kinda yucky, murky brown with tan ring and some floaties, but that’s expected, given its age. The aroma is nutty and very fruity and ripe; I sensed spices, old wine and prune. The taste that follows comes as no surprise – sweet, fruity and spicy alike. This is a smooth, full-bodied beer that is a little, just a little, carbonated. The finish is long and fruity. We all liked it.

Abbaye des Rocs is Beer #257 I Must Try Before I Die. I’d be happy to drink it fresh but vintage really kicks ass.

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