By Harley Zipori. I write a blog. I’m not a journalist nor do I pretend to be one. I do not do a lot of fact checking for my blog simply because I try to avoid facts. I check that I am accurately relating any information I use in the blog. The beauty of a blog of this kind is that is my opinion. How I see things.
I also do not pretend to be a beer professional nor do I have the experience and sensory training that a professional should have. I am slowly developing a sense of how to taste beer and to start to recognize the elements that go into making up the taste of a beer.
This is not a simple task for any food. For a good discussion on the subject of food tasting I would recommend anyone to read chapter 5 of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, where he discusses “The Gift of Expertise” by interviewing two women who are professional food tasters. This is not a joke. Food tasters are true professionals with a strong foundation of knowledge and experience as in any profession.
Therefore I do not rate beers.
My intention in this blog is to promote Israeli beer and a true craft beer culture. I know that my blog gets read. Recently I found myself quoted in an article in the Jewish Journal from September 2011. This is the Internet folks; nothing is forgotten. This is a good thing. I want to write things that neither I nor anyone else will want to forget.
There are some beers I like more and some beers I like less. Some beers I love. Others I do not like at all and wouldn’t want to drink again. I have yet to taste what I would consider a “bad” beer from a skilled home brewer or microbrewery. “Bad” in this case means that it tastes “off”, not quite right. This means something went wrong in the brewing process. This happens rarely to good brewers. Beginners have problems with yeast and temperatures so sometimes their beers have some unwanted flavors. Not exactly “bad” but not desirable. So it is not like I have been restraining myself from giving a beer I taste a bad review.
All this is a lengthy introduction to a bit of a dilemma. For those that read the last blog from May, I mentioned Tempo brewery’s newest entry in the local beer scene: Goldstar Unfiltered. I also mentioned that I would have to do a taste comparison with regular Goldstar. I finally managed to do this.
Here is the bottom line: Goldstar Unfiltered is a tastier beer than regular Goldstar. Tastier to me of course.
Now for a short diversion to some history. Personal history, not the history of beer.
I made my first trip to Israel in 1977, several years after my beer epiphany when I realized that beer was more than the watered down lager that American’s are most familiar with. I clearly remember drinking Goldstar on that trip. I also drank Goldstar as my beer of choice after making Aliyah. At that time in Israel when there was a discussion of “good beer or a lot of beer”, Goldstar was the good beer.
Even today I can easily enjoy a Goldstar in a restaurant or with friends. But to me it is a very mild beer. I would even say bland. Goldstar isn’t an imitation Pilsner. Goldstar is a dark lager. It does have a light amber color signifying the use of somewhat darker roasted malt. I certainly hope that is the case and they are not just adding caramel as a coloring. Goldstar is not hopped like a Pilsner and the regular version has very little bitterness or hop qualities.
Goldstar Unfiltered is a bit different. I don’t see any haziness in the Unfiltered that might be expected. The main difference, at least for me, is the taste. Most noticeably there was a distinct hops taste to Goldstar Unfiltered as well as a more malty background flavor.
So in my humble opinion, Goldstar Unfiltered is a more flavorful beer. To make things clear, Unfiltered is not some wake up the taste buds micro brewed craft beer. It is still a beer produced to satisfy the mass of beer drinkers with something easy to drink without making anyone pause to think too much. It has to be a decent session beer to survive. And I believe it is and I hope it does. I would chose it in a pub over regular Goldstar and even other mass produced locally made beers.
So I tip my hat to Tempo for not just introducing a new beer that acknowledges the growing trend of craft beer but that actually taking a lesson from the changes in the local beer scene.
This is not Tempo’s first foray into different beers. A while back Tempo introduced Goldstar Black Roast as part of their Brewmaster’s Collection. This was a dark lager with an addition of darker roasted malt, giving it a bit of that roasted malty character of brown ales and moving in the direction of a German Schwarzbier. Also, according to Tempo’s website they are selling Abir, their extra strength lager which they say is modeled after an IPA. I have tasted Abir only once at a beer festival at least 2 years ago. It is primarily available in selected pubs and I have never seen it. Perhaps on their website or Facebook page there is more information on where to find it.
Here is another update of interest. I was recently at the restaurant at Bat Ya’ar near Sfat in the Galilee. They actually had an extensivemenu of beers all brewed in the Galilee and the Golan. I cannot find this information online but be assured for those looking for a very good restaurant (non Kosher I am afraid) up north and really like good beer, you WILL need a designated driver. Or, like me, you will just have to be satisfied with staring at the menu.
I also want to pass on an announcement about the Bakers Music Festival, on Saturday June 22 on Moshav Givat Chen, next to Raanana. There will be lots of great music, food, activities for the kids and of course, Dancing Camel Beer. The festival is organized in part by Lilach Bonanai who organizes the music on Friday afternoons at the Dancing Camel Pub.
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