I wish I could say that a lot of beer has flowed under the bridge in that time. But it hasn’t. Well some beer but not a lot.
I started writing this blog from a deep desire to promote Israeli boutique beer and share my love and enthusiasm with others who might be interested. There are a number of people who blog on beer in Hebrew. I have to be totally honest and admit I do not have the patience to read blogs in Hebrew. I know of two others who blog in English and will give their details a little later. I also have to admit that I do not regularly check their websites to see what they have posted. It’s just me. Don’t blame them.
I repeatedly ask myself if perhaps my interest in beer is waning. Admittedly it has a bit. But my interest in any hobbies or activities outside of work, family and home has largely been sidelined for the past several months. So my active participation in any outside beer activities have pretty much dropped to zero of the past half a year.
But I’m not writing the blog to whine and make excuses. Nor am I try to do a reboot of the blog. The beer continues to flow under various bridges and there is a lot of beer still flowing. Just not under my bridge. I still want to write about what I love the most, Israeli craft beers. I know that sometimes it seems I concentrate on beers I find in Europe due to my travelling. I rationalize that as limited time and opportunity. I mean I am already there and will certainly take advantage of tasting local beers when I travel so why not write about it. In any event, the travelling has become much less frequent and will not return to the levels of 2012 and 2013.
Just recently I was at a restaurant called Urbana on Yefet Street in Jaffa and they had 2 types of Bezelet beer from the Golan Brewery on tap. And this was from a chance visit. Just think of what I could find if I were looking for it.
In general I am seeing more Israeli boutique beers appearing in more and more restaurants and pubs, usually in bottles and not on tap. The reason that bottles are more common is that they have a much longer shelf life. Once a keg is tapped, it will last about 2 weeks, or so I am told. If it is not used up by then, it could start going bad and have to be thrown out. If a beer is not popular enough, it will not be on tap.
However the appearance of more and more local craft brews is encouraging.
I made a foray to Dancing Camel Brewery pub one Friday afternoon back in March. The pub has been remodeled to make more sitting space and a better music venue. The menu has also been changed but maintains the original spirit. Speaking of spirit, in the spirit of disclosure, a number of years ago I volunteered to help the Dancing Camel crew bottle Midnight Stout one Friday morning in exchange for food and short filled bottles of stout. My food of choice at the time was the corned beef sandwich. I have a connection to the Dancing Camel and my opinions on the pub, the food and especially the beer will certainly reflect that.
Now it is clear (to me at least) that the usual Israeli definition of “corned beef” has very little to do with American Jewish Deli, a food culture which is seemingly impossible to duplicate and is probably dying out in the US. It is also important to remember that David Cohen, the founder and still driving force behind the Dancing Camel, is from New York and is of an age to remember the golden age of Jewish Deli. So when David put corned beef and roast beef sandwiches on the menu many years ago, the meat was going to be good. I mean very good. Those sandwiches were still served as recently as a number of months ago when I visited the time before this last time.
The menu now still has meat but it is a bit different. It is still excellent but with a distinct (at least to me) emphasis on smoked meats. And it was good. Very good. I loved smoked anything.
The past 6 months or so has given me a chance to sample a few beers that I haven’t tasted before and to revisit some of my favorites. Here is a brief rundown based on my collection of bottles and my less than perfect memory.
Uerige Alt – A genuine craft brewed Alt ale from Dusseldorf. This is amber colored, malty, nicely hopped beer. I found a store in Netanya (Borshtein in the new industrial area) with several types of Uerige beer. It’s a bit expensive but I am looking forward to trying the other styles.
HaDubim HaDoctor – HaDubim is the house brand of Mivshelet HaAm (The People’s Brewery) in Even Yehuda near Netanya. In addition to providing contract brewing services for some of the best Israeli boutique brands, they brew their own brand, HaDubim, the bears. The Doctor is their version of American Pale Ale and is a refreshing, fruity pale ale.
HaDubim Indira – This is the HaDubim version of India Pale Ale and is done in true American style with the full bitterness of some of the fruitier American hops. I’m thinking Citra™ but I can’t be sure as there are other hops varieties that provide that grapefruit overtone to beer.
HaDubim HaMaka HaRishona – HaDubim’s Smoked Red Ale. I don’t remember it too well and have to try it again. I do remember liking it.
Chimay Blue Grande Reserve – One of the premium brews from Chimay, the well known Trappist brewery in Belgium. This is a strong (9%), dark and malty beer that should be savored. The brewery recommends storing the beer in a cellar (10 – 12C) for several years before drinking. I am not that patient.
Welde No. 1 – A commercial German Pilsner from the Welde brewery that I picked up in the Supersol for 9 NIS a bottle a few times. It is a German version of Pilsner similar to Becks.
I promised a couple of links to English blogs on Israeli beer.
Douglas Greener writes a blog called Israel Brews and Views. Doug is dedicated to writing about the local brewing scene. I first mentioned Doug in a blog from late December 2013. He is still around and still blogging as far as I can tell.
The other blogger seems new. Beer.Israel is an entire website dedicated to Israeli beer. The site is run by Moishe (email@example.com) and seems to take a fairly systematic approach to covering the beer scene. I have not met him and only found him when a friend sent me the link. I look forward to meeting Moishe and hoisting a couple Israeli craft beers with him.
I will be traveling soon and hope to have some new beer adventures to tell in May.
As usual comments, corrections and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.