Food & Drink The Israeli Experience Magazine

Holy Land Beer

An abundance of microbreweries have appeared in recent years in Israel which offer high quality, an unconventional range of flavors and sometimes also a tour which is an intoxicating experience.
by: Orly Genosar   |   08.12.2011
The boutique beers trend has entered our lives with a storm a few years ago and started gaining popularity. Those who thought that it is only temporary (as we are a country of transient trends), and have eulogized it before its time – were wrong. Home brewing, which started 6,000 years ago, has become a mainstream activity again and got better and bigger and its main beneficiaries are its fans. May there be more.

I was exposed to the home beer brewing phenomenon by a close friend. Three years ago he told us with great pride that he brews beer. After our raised eyebrows have returned to their rightful place we also received a fascinating explanation about a small group of people who have come up with this idea and who ever since meet once in every three weeks and brew together a fresh line of good beer. When I investigated about where the knowledge of how to do this has come from, I was told that each member of the group has their own role in the process, and that one of them was in charge of supplying the information. He brought reading materials, theoretical explanations and applicable ideas and they started on their way. As a part of the trial and error process, they started with great efforts but tasted and spilled. With time and the experience that it brought, they drained the mistakes away, focused their needs and collected results. One session came after another and as a result of their perseverance and determination, success has arrived as well. This group has been devoutly continuing up to date in their ceremony which takes place every three weeks and on each visit we gain a taste of a cool beer which is like no other.

Beer is made with love

Every new beer brewer has to go through this obstacle course and those who have not given up proudly dot our little country and offer beers in special flavors. The new microbreweries combine technological innovation with the use of traditional methods and a personal human touch which takes away from the beer its industrial taste and gives it the taste of love. The basic raw materials are the same but the fermentation process is natural and no chemical preservatives or other materials which prolong the shelf life of the product are being used. For this reason the quantities that are being produced in the beer vats are small and measured, the beer’s shelf life is relatively short, these beers are not easily found everywhere and of course they are more expensive. But the quality is uncompromising, the flavors range is unusual and the experience – intoxicating.
Beer is basically a healthy drink that is based on malt (which is made out of barley), common hop flowers and yeast. The malt in various roasting levels gives the beer its shade but also the biological basis for the process, the hop gives the beer its bitterness and aroma and the yeast is responsible for the fermentation process but also for the distinction between two major types of beer: Lager yeast creates a typical beer and Ale yeast gives it a richer flavor. The malt measurements, the level of roasting and the mixing of the different types play a main role in the production process of beer in different flavors and we will usually find pale, medium - reddish and dark beers. This whole business only seems complicated but it is not, as beer was already being made 6,000 years ago, and you will not believe it but it happened right here in the Middle East. We have grown wiser and more sophisticated since and beer has become a widespread beverage. Its health related advantages have been proven and as to its alcoholic intoxicating disadvantages, one only needs to be aware of them, as it is worthwhile drinking enjoyably and without forgetting the limit.

Beer brewery tours

In order to really get to know a quality local beer, some microbreweries have gone as far as to provide a guided tour which offers explanations about the production process. "Malka Beer” in Kibbutz Yehiam is an example of a daring microbrewery. Besides a guided tour which includes tastings, Assaf Lavi, who has moved out of Tel Aviv to the nearby Klil village, has opened a bar which serves beer and light meals on a beautiful balcony. The green view of the Yehiam Stream is a perfect setting to the highlight of this place: Kabbalat Shabbat- the welcoming of the Sabbath on Friday afternoons that is accompanied by food and music. The northern area of Israel is filled with boutique handmade beer breweries and one can find among them the "Golan Brewery” in Katzrin, the "Butterfly Brewery” in the Dalton Industrial Park, the "Galil Brewery” in kibbutz Moran and more. The beer brewers of the central Yoav Yehuda region offer each year at the regional food festival their own beer fair which combines stories and tastings, music and lots of fun… And the microbreweries trend has also reached the south of the country with "Isis” in the Western Negev area and the "Negev” beer in Kiryat Gat.
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