August 5, 2017

New summer beers

A few new beers are already here to quench your summer thirst.  Our craft brewers know that it's the lighter, crisper, drier beers that people prefer in the hot months -- the July-August-September doldrums when your clothing sticks to your body and people carry water bottles with them when they take more than two steps out of the house.

Three brewers have come out with new India pale ales, always summer favorites with their light bodies, dry finishes, and ratched-up hop bitterness.  But before we taste those, let's try a new Belgian strong ale.  Although it's not associated with summer drinking, no one says you can't enjoy any beer you want, any time you want!

Esser Beer

Esser Beer is a strong Belgian-style ale
(10% alcohol), sweet, fruity and spicy.  
Esser means "ten" in Hebrew, and that's the alcoholic content of this latest beer from the Beer Bazaar Brewery (Mivshelet Ha'aretz) in Kiryat Gat.

Esser is a strong ale in the Belgian style, the color of golden straw and with a small creamy head.  The alcohol is very present in the aroma, along with caramel and peach/nectarine.  Taste is sweet caramel, not unusual for a Belgian-style beer, but it's balanced by the fruity esters of the hops and the yeasty spice.  The alcohol comes back on the exhale.  (Try this sometime.  The technical term is retronasal, and it's the way your nose catches all the aromas when you exhale after you swallow.  This is an important component of what we call "taste.")

The body is full and creamy, with a bittersweet finish.  My drinking partner Moshe found a quality of "lemon pie or creme brulee."

It's not easy to pull off a balanced beer of this strength, but Esser is just that.  Don't gulp it down on a hot day, and don't have more than one.  Enjoy this with spicy grilled and fried foods, rich cheeses and a sweet, non-chocolate cake.

Shapiro 2017 IPA

Every summer for the past three years, the Shapiro Brewery has been bringing out a seasonal India pale ale, brewed to the same recipe except for the hops.  This year, they're using Simcoe, a proprietary hop from the U.S., known for its pungent, citrusy and piney aroma.  (Read about last year's with Citra hops here.)  The alcoholic content has remained 6.5% every year.

The Shapiro 2017 IPA pours out a clear reddish amber.  In addition to the citrus, we got some aromas of tropical fruits, specifically passion fruit and mango.  The taste is bitterer than the aroma suggests it might be, but it doesn't overpower the fruit and citrus flavors.  Ripe mango remains predominant here as well.

In short, the Shapiros have once again brought out an excellent seasonal IPA -- balanced, mid-bitter, full of delicious fruit flavors.

Laughing Buddha Single Malt IPA

Vladimir Gershanov, brewing partner of
Laughing Buddha beer, in pleasant surroundings.
Vladimir Gershanov from Tel Aviv and partner Dima Grabak from Haifa have been brewing beer with the jolly Laughing Buddha label since 2005.  Their Single Malt IPA has been around quite a while, having been contract brewed in several locations.  But it is now being prepared in commercial quantities at the new Sheeta Brewery in Arad.  
The beer is a cloudy, pale amber color with a pinkish tinge and a foamy white head.  Alcohol by volume is 7.1%.  The surprise begins with the aromas.  Along with the citrus and pine hops, you get  . . . sugar candy.  With that in our nostrils, we took a sip and found tastes of jelly apple, cotton candy and toffee.  Moshe said it was, "as if we had walked into a candy store."  

Then, with the second swallow, you do get the bitterness of the hops, along with citrus fruits.  Coming after the candy, it's quite refreshing.

Laughing Buddha Single Malt IPA.
(Photo: Alex Koldertsov)
Vladimir calls this an IPA, but you'll find it quite different from other IPAs you've tasted.  If you can accept that, you'll have a very pleasant beer experience.

Taste aside, I asked Vladimir if he has had any problems with the use of his Laughing Buddha image, specifically from Buddhists who might think of it as sacrilege.  He said that in the twelve years of using that brand, there have never been any complaints.  In fact, a few other breweries in the U.S. and elsewhere also use the Buddha in their logo.  And, although Buddhists are overwhelmingly teetotalers, Vladimir was told that there is a branch which do drink alcohol.  Ganbei!

Mikkeller Green Gold IPA

Mikkel Borg of Copenhagen meets the
old blogger in Tel Aviv.  
(Photo: Mike Horton)   

Brewed in Israel at the Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer, Green Gold IPA is actually a product of the Mikkeller contract brewery based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Mikkel Borg, the Mikkeller founder and owner, brews his beers in different breweries all around the world.  Israel is in fact not the first country where he's made Green Gold.  

I was at the launching of this excellent beer at the Agnes Pub in Tel Aviv and I asked Mikkel Borg if he would call Green Gold a collaboration beer with Alexander.  He said something about the brewing taking place in Israel, using our "air and water," but really it was at heart a Mikkeller beer which happens to be brewed in Israel.
Mikkel Borg (left), brewer of Green Gold,
addresses the crowd at the beer
launch in Tel Aviv.

(Photo: Mike Horton) 

In fact, Mikkel explained that brewing Green Gold in several countries was his attempt to introduce a real American-style IPA to the locals, which now includes us Israelis.    

Ori Sagy, founder and owner of the Alexander Brewery, added that "maybe Green Gold was too extreme for the Israeli market."  

Well, I certainly didn't think so.  Probably during the time Mikkel Borg was doing his planning, several Israeli craft breweries have brought out their own IPAs, no less hoppy than Green Gold.

Green Gold may not have been conceived in Israel, but it was born here, so let's have a taste.

Ori Sagy, founder and owner of Alexander Brewery,
shares of bottle of Green Gold IPA with Mikkel Borg.
(Photo: Mike Horton) 
As I mentioned, I think the beer is wonderful.  It pours out the color of clear gold, with a lovely foamy head.  The aroma is citrusy and piney hops.  The taste includes elements of grass, more pine resins, and some grapefruit and orange.  The bitterness is moderate, and blends very well with the flavors.  The delicious long and fruity finish stays with you.  Alcohol by volume is 6.8%.  (N.B.  This review refers only to the Green Gold brewed at Alexander.  The same beer brewed in other countries may be somewhat different.)

These beers will help you get through the summer.  Well, so will any beers, but you should give these a try if you haven't yet.

1 comment:

Thanks for your comment. L'chayim!