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Making a Mark in Foam

Making a Mark in Foam

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Published by Daniella Cheslow
Daniella Cheslow explores Israel's growing microbrewery scene in The Jerusalem Report, Oct. 25, 2010.
Daniella Cheslow explores Israel's growing microbrewery scene in The Jerusalem Report, Oct. 25, 2010.

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Published by: Daniella Cheslow on Feb 06, 2011
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OCTOBER 25, 201032
Daniella Cheslow
A growing number of microbrewers is encouraging Israelis to seek new tastes in beer
Making a Mark in Foam
N ASWEATYAUGUSTThursday, Dima Grabak reach-es into the fridge pulling outbottle after bottle of malty dark beers. “This is a stout,” he says,pouring a dark and aromatic brown beer that hemade himself, out of an unmarked glass bottleinto a waiting tasting glass.Grabak makes seven kinds of beer in small50-liter (13 gallon) batches, in a whitewashedroom on the third floor of an industrial build-ing in southern Tel Aviv. His LaughingBuddha brewery, currently waiting forHealth Ministry approval, is one of nearly 20tiny beer start-ups that have mushroomed inIsrael in the last four years.From the Golan down to the Negev, themicrobreweries are churning out minusculebatches of beer flavored with date syrup, herbs,or just plain hops. The boutique beer culturenests within a wider foodie culture that beganin the late 1980s, with the growth of gourmetcheeses, breads, wines and fresh produce.Only 20 years ago, it was hard to find diver-sity in quenching your thirst in local foam.“Originally, from the early days up to the endof the 80s, there were a couple of whitelager-type beers and black beer, the [non-alcoholic] malt beverage we still have,”Oren Avrashi, the long-haired manager of specialty beer brands for the Tempo compa-ny, which also brews the most popular localbeer, Goldstar, tells The Report.Avrashi’s small but expanding empire of imports and local brews show the growingdiversity of the local beer market. Goldstar, alager, and Maccabee, a pilsner, debuted in the1950s and 1960s and still dominate the market.In 1985, the Dutch beer company Heinekenbought a stake in Tempo Breweries, and soonHeineken’s trademark green bottles becamewidely available in bars. Adecade later, theIsraeli Beer Breweries company began produc-ing Danish Tuborg and Carlsberg beers in aplant in Ashkelon, south of Tel Aviv, on theMediterranean coast.As the number of mass-produced beersincreased, Israel became part of the “Irish pubcraze” that was popular around the world at thebeginning of the 2000s, Avrashi says.“The whole concept of an Irish pub is thelarge varieties of beers,” he explains. “Sodemand began. New beer pubs started lookingfor specialty beers and new importers startedmeeting demand and bringing in Belgian ales,stouts and other specialties.”It was only a matter of time before Israelisstarted pushing for even wider variety. Avrashihimself brewed beer on his Tel Aviv stove topusing a soup pot. Other home brewers, inspiredby trips to the United States or Germany, joinedthe trend.Eventually, the aficionado culture grewlarge enough to support microbreweries, whichare defined as breweries that produce a limitedquantity of beer. Israel has no official limit, butthe turnout in local breweries ranges fromabout 1,300 to 13,200 gallons.Microbrewing takes a minimum of threeweeks, according to brewing teacher andimporter Gad Deviri. The basic ingredients arehops, which are a plant grown in cool climes
REVIVAL:Amir Hirs is one of the proprietorsof Tel Aviv’s Abeer saloon,the only placewhere you can get a draft of the revivedold Abeer brew

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