I am trying to plug myself back into the local brewing network and keep updated on developments in the boutique brewing world here in Israel. I am also trying to arrange to brew my first batch of beer in over 18 months with the help of Denny Neilson at the Winemaker Store in Mevasseret Zion. Both take time and effort and no small amount of patience, none of which I seem to have in abundance. But still I carry on.
My latest effort to get back into action involved an outing to the Dancing Camel Florentine pub in South Tel Aviv. David Cohen, the founder and brewmaster of the Dancing Camel brewery has instituted “Tap Takeover” nights where an Israeli boutique brewery comes and takes over the beer taps in the pub, which normally server the wide variety of excellent Dancing Camel beers.
At the beginning of January the “Tap Takeover” featured beers from HaDubim (The Bears) brewed at at the brewery in Even Yehuda, not far from Netanya. On Thursday, January 16, the pub hosted beers from the Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer (see photos).
To those who are long time readers of this blog, you might remember previous blogs about the Alexander Brewery and the beers they make. This was a good opportunity for a pre-launch tasting of the newest beer in the Alexander Brewery family: Blazer. Officially launched in conjunction the Israeli print magazine Blazer.
Blazer beer is a Belgian style golden ale with all the richness and alcohol of a Belgian brewed golden ale. This is a nice addition to the line of Alexander beers which includes the Blonde, Ambree, Black and Green.
I opened up my evening with a glass of Blazer beer from the first keg available for commercial consumption. This beer shows the same pedigree of the other Alexander beers and the quality and attention to detail that typifies the Alexander products.
I then went on to taste the Alexander Black, which I have not had in quite a while. This is a seasonal beer, brewed in the winter when heavier, darker beers seem to go better with the cold weather and overcast skies. Since my memory of the specific taste of this beer had completely faded, it was like tasting it anew. I did remember a deep dark malt chocolate coffee flavor apparent in traditional porter style beers but I also noticed the distinct roasted barley flavor pushing this clearly into stout territory.
I finished off the evening with a glass of Alexander Green which is reminiscent of an American IPA, with the distinct aroma and flavor of the fruitier American hop varieties. It is still a favorite of mine and I even have a bottle sitting in my fridge at home.
I am pleased to say that Alexander keeps up the quality and consistency that I have always felt was a strongpoint of their beers and Blazer should be a welcome addition to the solid lineup.
Let’s hope that the Alexander team can get these beers into more restaurants and pubs. I have noticed that even when Alexander beers are on the menu, it is usually only one or two of them and not the complete lineup. I know that frustrations abound in the effort to get Israeli boutique beer into the pub and restaurant market but I still try to maintain my optimism that things will continue to improve.
Next up on the Dancing Camel Florentine agenda is another “Tap Takeover” this coming Thursday, January 23, 2014. This time David is opening the doors to the Shapiro Brewery in Beit Shemesh. While not the most veteran of the Israeli boutique breweries, Shapiro brews a variety of production beers and a few seasonals and special brews and continues to make a noticable mark in the craft brew market in Isarel. It will be very interesting to see which beers they bring to the Dancing Camel next week and I sure hope that I will be able to attend.
After posting my last blog in which I mentioned Schofferhofer Hefeweizen I tasted in Berlin, I received email from an acquaintance, Ross, originally from New Zealand who told me that he had found the beer in New Zealand along with an official Schofferhofer glass that he received with the beer. I was so pleased to hear this that I decided to include the picture of the beer and the Schofferhofer glass.
Ross also asked if they drink hefeweizen with a slice of lemon in Germany. I only became aware of this practice a number of years ago when a friend visiting from the US told me about this custom in American pubs. I personally think this is desecration of the subtle flavor of a true hefeweizen. However to be honest, I did not even think of the lemon slice while visiting Germany during any of my trips there. If I had I would have paid attention and even asked serious beer people there (let’s say half the adult population) if this was a known phenomena. I do not ever recall seeing this but as we all know, our brains don’t always register things we are not looking for. Although I would like to think that a lemon slice on top of a glass of hefeweizen in a German restaurant or bierhaus would be picked up by my subconscious as easily as hearing my name when mentioned accross the room at a crowded party.
Anyone wishing to meet up at the Dancing Camel for the Shapiro “Tap Takeover” should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org just to verify I will be there. You can always identify me since I always wear my Barmah hat for these events so that people recognize who I am and (hopefully) bring out the good stuff for me.