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Tags - manfred
Yours truly, David Rhodes, trying local Israeli micro-brew, Manfred
The 5th Annual Jerusalem Beer Festival is over at Gan HaAtzmut (Independence Park) in the center of the city. From 6PM to Midnight, over 100 beers available here in Israel were served throughout the two night brew bash. Several of the beers are made by local breweries big and small (including my favorite Dancing Camel's Leche del Diablo) yet there are many nations and styles available including lagers, ales and stouts and beers from Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan.
israel's aspring 3 year old micro-brewery Dancing Camel caught my attention...
As I cruised for amiable beer vendors willing to sample their beers to a humble (or not so humble) wine writer, I managed to coax about two dozen beers to taste (there's goes my diet for the week). Most were distinctly different from the next partly do to the variety offered and my preference to sample more obscure brands I hadn't tried before than indulging in the larger commercial brands such as Israel's Goldstar or Japan's Asahi (though I've had the occasion to enjoy both with shwarma or sushi repectively). One thing about beer (compared to wine) is that to taste it doesn't lend itself to sipping and spitting. A gulp or two or three under the summer sun seems the best way to judge a brew rather than a sip and spit at wine festivals (in fact no spit buckets were offered and no spitting was observed).
5 English & Belgian Beers & Ciders Beckon Thirsty Beer Festival Patrons
As a disclaimer as a "wine guy" I do try to drink wine on every occasion that liqour is being served. I see it as an educational opportunity that with so many tens of thousands of wines available on the marketplace that each time I might drink some other beverage it's a missed opportunity to explore an untasted wine. Yet there are a few exceptions when wine isn't my first choice of fermented or distilled beverages. One exception, for instance, is when the wine offered is dreadful. This is often the case when the wine list gives a choice simply of one white, one red and one rose without even naming the vintage, winery and region. Chances are then that a beer or almost any other beverage on the menu might be more pleasing. Another situtaion I might not prefer wine is when there might be a dish that is a better match with something other than any wine available. Additionally, being in the industry I can also often spot when a vendor is gauging their customers with their pricing and I don't have to have a drink with every meal. It keeps the calorie count down and my pocket full of a bit more shrapnel.
Banana infused beer, you may ask why? Read on !!!
The other time I drink liqour that isn't fermented juice of the vine is when it's an educational experience such as a festival of this kind and I can meet the makers and learn the craft as it were. There's a nexus of information between booze makers and I respect craftmanship that transends preferences of wine over beer or other libations. Besides, there's an old saying "it's takes a lot of beer to make a good wine" as many winemakers are closet or even outed beer lovers and like to have some brew during the workday or while they wait for their wine to mature. Additionally, I know many a winemaker who dabbled in beer making either before or after the wine bug first bit.
There are times I must admit I'd rather have a beer like at a sports game when the stimulus can be overwhelming for me to savor what's in a glass seem more beer worthy than a glass of my favorite vino. A beer at the festival, the Belgian Mongozo with it's banana infusion seemed like it was waiting for some coconut based Thai curry for a perfect match. or a wine glass isn't even available. On a sailboat when I'm crewing a can or bottle is easier to handle than a glass though it might be one of the exception when swigging from a wine bottle isn't the worse idea. eating certain foods beg for a beer as well. Mexican, Indian, Texas chili or even pizza and certain casual snack dishes such as chips with dips, pretzels, burgers or hot dogs and other BBQ fare (though wine matches do exist here as well).
t-shirt vendor chilling before thousands spill into the Festival
Back to the festival, this was an article about the Jerusalem Beer Festival (any Alice's Restaurant fans out there?) I had a great time and wouldn't hesitate to come back year after year. It's just not a beer festival but a rock/reggae jam and great BBQ too. Some of the same bartenders from the Jerusalem Wine Festival, hey Gabi and the crew from Mia, were at both events so it almost becomes like a family outing for me as most of my best friends in Israel are food and wine (and soon to be beer?) people.
For the record, my favorite beer at the 5th Annual Jerusalem Beer Festival was Israel's very own Dancing Camel's Liche del Diablo (" Milk of the Devil"). It might have been the first time I ever had a spicy hot beer and they pulled it off well. Just like I enjoy an acidic wine with fish (instead of getting the acidity from squeezing a lemon) it was great to get that kick to my senses from the beer instead of a plate of spicy BBQ or a bowl of fiery chili. I wouldn't suggest the beer with spicy food because it might cause sensory overload but maybe with fried food the heat and alcohol might cut through the grease to tease the taste buds. Beer-battered fried chicken, fish and chips or onion rings semed like a perfect match.
Two-fisting beers (reminds me of college days long gone by) my festival favorites
Dancing Camel's Liche del Diablo ("Milk of the Devil") & Belgian banana Mongozo
David Rhodes worked at wineries in California & Israel, hosted over 100 wine parties.as a sommelier & adviser for the SDSU Business of Wine program. He speaks weekly about wine on Rustymikeradio.com & writes for ESRA magazine. Israeliwineguy@gmail.com