The Jew And The Carrot

Craft Beer: More Than What's in the Bottle

By Rabbi Baruch Rock

  • Print
  • Share Share
Matisyahu Tonti

Craft beer brewing is an art. The craft brewer is self-mandated to blend the complex flavors from water, malts, hops and yeasts into a harmony of delight. There is also a creed of the craft brewer as described by the Brewer’s Association:

• The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.
• Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley; interesting and sometimes non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinctiveness.
• Craft brewers tend to be very involved in their communities through philanthropy, product donations, volunteerism, and sponsorship of events.
• Craft brewers have distinctive, individualistic approaches to connecting with their customers.
• Craft brewers maintain integrity by what they brew and their general independence, free from a substantial interest by a non-craft brewer.

Technically, a craft brewery produces no more than 475,000 gallons of beer per year (I am using craft brewery and microbrewery interchangeably, an obvious generality that glosses over the complexities of the industry, but sufficient for this posting). Culturally, these small scale breweries forsake size to allow for greater care and attention to be paid to the quality of ingredients and the nuances of the brewing process. What speaks to me most from the creed is the commitment to integrity and relationship: relationship with the ingredients, history, individualism, community and innovation.

Never thought of beer in this way before? You are not alone. When I made Aliyah in 2002, the craft beer industry in Israel was well … non-existent. Even homebrewing equipment was nearly impossible to find. It was several years later in 2006 that Dancing Camel appeared not on the scene, but to create the scene. By now, there are 20+ registered microbreweries in Israel. But do not mistake quantity for quality…or craftsmanship. This past summer on a return to trip to Israel, I made it a point to try as many Israeli craft beers as I could find, albeit from the bottle (draft beers are in a different league, unfortunately the dynamics of the visit didn’t allow for that kind of luxury). Besides, if a brewery has the courage to put their product in a bottle, then that should be proof enough that they have something worth tasting. While on the whole the experience was a delight and some tasty brews were discovered, there is certainly room for improvement. The sum of it, craft brewing is form of art, craft brewing in a bottle … a fine art that few, at least in Israel (or more aptly, from the beers tasted), have mastered.

Throughout the course of two beer tastings my friends and I sampled six different breweries and 18 different beers. The list of breweries and beers included the following:

NEGEV BREWERY - AMBER ALE
NEGEV BREWERY - PORTER
CANAAN BREWERY - PALE ALE
CANAAN BREWERY - CARAWAY
CANAAN BREWERY - WHEAT
EMEK HAELAH - BEVARIAN WHEAT
EMEK HAELAH - BLONDE
EMEK HAELAH - IRISH RED ALE
JEM’S WHEAT, JEM’S AMBER ALE
JEM’S DARK LAGER, JEM’S STOUT
JEM’S 8-8, ISRA-ALE BLONDE
BIRA BRABUA - PILSNER
BIRA BRABUA - RED ALE
BIRA BRABUA - BOCK
BIRA BIRABUA - AMBER

Other beers sampled but not included in the beer tastings were various styles from PAVO BREWERY in Zichron Yaakov, as well as various styles from the GOLAN HEIGHTS BREWERY.

Each beer evaluation considered the following six aspects (as expanded upon in the publication “How to Hold a Tasting at Home” by The Brewer’s Association): 1. Appearance — color, head and carbonation; 2. Aroma; 3. Taste; 4. Mouthfeel or Texture; 5. Overall impression; 6. Beer Whispering.

This last category is my favorite. The beer whisper is essentially what you, your totally subjective self, have to say about the beer. What is its story? What does the beer remind you of? You will see in the evaluations (what I like to call developmental criticism) that a beer may whisper some unusual things. In this case the beer tastings were much more a celebration than an attempt at critique. My love for Israel, craftbeer, comraderie and plain old fun is what I was going for in these tastings. I hope that you will have the opportunity to hold a beer tasting of your own, in a rebuilt Jerusalem, speedily in our days.

In this first post, I share the write ups for two of the six breweries and their respective beers. A disclaimer, this is a completely subjective evaluation. Coming up in the posts to follow, more evaluations and the stories behind the breweries/brewers themselves. L’Chaiim!

Rabbi Baruch Rock, born and raised in NY, first learned of craft brewing while serving in the Student Conservation Corps in the Bitteroot Wilderness of Idaho at the age of 16. Since then, Baruch has been an avid homebrewer both in the US and for the ten years he lived in Israel. Baruch Rock now resides in Fairfax, Virginia, where he gladly sips his favorite craft beers from across the country to those close to home.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: home brew, Israel, Craft Beer

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.