The most unusual brewery

“It’s amazing to see the motivation of the people who do the brewing and bottling.”

OSHRI, a participant in Tsad Kadima’s beer program, hangs sterilized bottles on the drying tree (photo credit: MIKE HORTON)
OSHRI, a participant in Tsad Kadima’s beer program, hangs sterilized bottles on the drying tree
(photo credit: MIKE HORTON)
The most unusual brewery in the world is right here in Israel – right here in Jerusalem to be exact.
The Adult Day Center of Tsad Kadima (A Step Forward) hosts many activities for the benefit of adults with cerebral palsy and other severe physical disabilities. It provides, for example, academic studies in different subjects, including courses held at the David Yellin College of Education and the Hadassah-University School of Occupational Therapy; training for a very active and successful bocce team, a Paralympic sport suitable for those with physical disabilities; and a framework for leisure activities such as arts and crafts.
But every Wednesday for the past several months, the center is transformed into a brewery for Kadima Beer.
“It’s amazing to see the motivation of the people who do the brewing and bottling,” says Guy Salomon, CEO of Tsad Kadima. “They wait for this day. Our brewing project is different from anything else we do.
The work is unique; it’s economical and commercial; it gives our participants a feeling of achievement and accomplishment. They are more active and cooperate with one another in a way not seen elsewhere.”
On one recent Wednesday, 10 young adults with differing levels of function were bottling an Irish Red Ale which they had brewed two weeks earlier. Three stations were set up under the guidance of Avi Colodner, a specialist in conductive education and head of the Adult Day Center; occupational therapist Ruth Cohen; Shir Tevet, a National Service volunteer; and Khalil Lubbat, an aide. But all the work was done by the Tsad Kadima participants themselves, from their powered wheelchairs.
The first commandment of bottling is that everything the beer touches has to be sterilized: the receptacles, the tubing, the nozzles, the bottle caps and, of course, the bottles themselves. So the first step was Moshiko’s. His task was to drop the bottles into the sterilizing solution.
“Most home brewers use a device that forcefully sprays the solution into the bottle,” explains Colodner.
“But few of our participants have the strength and dexterity to push the bottles down on this device, so we came up with the idea of a ‘sterilizing bath’ instead.”
It was then Oshri’s job to take the bottles out of the bath and hang them upside down on the drying tree.
Getting the bottles over to the filling station was handled by Ayelet. Her wheelchair was fitted with a bottle holder, and when Oshri filled it with four clean bottles, she transported them around two meters or so, over to Hagit, who filled them with a spring-operated filling tube connected to the tank of beer.
It was a challenge for Hagit to insert the tube into the narrow bottle opening, but she kept on trying until she succeeded – bottle after bottle after bottle.
Watching this process was Itzik, whose cerebral palsy was probably too severe for him to do any of the physical activities. But he was in charge of “quality control,” letting Hagit know when each bottle was full so she could stop filling.
With four bottles brimming with Irish Red Ale, Hagit continued her route another two meters over to the capping station, where Rotem was sterilizing the bottle caps before Elior pressed them onto the bottles.
Working the press took a lot of strength, and Elior was one of the few who could handle that with precision.
In an adjacent room, even as the batch of Irish Red was being bottled, a brew kettle was being readied for Tsad Kadima’s next beer – a Belgian Triple. Yotam and David were watching over the pot until it reached the proper temperature, before the malt and hops could be added.
SALOMON LOOKED out over this beautiful, imperfect assembly line with pride and satisfaction. It was just a year ago that Tsad Kadima’s academic director, Dr. Rony Schenker, raised the idea of beer brewing in the center, a project that would give young adults with CP a chance to do trendy, interesting and meaningful work, to learn new skills, and even earn a little something for their efforts.
Salomon, a serious home brewer, loved the idea. The fact that welfare officials had certified Tsad Kadima participants as “100% unemployable” only whetted Salomon’s appetite for the challenge.
Brewers were called in to volunteer their time and talent to instruct the working crew and to adapt the brewing process to fit the needs of physically challenged adults. Sponsors were found for purchasing the equipment.
“This took a lot of time and trial and error,” says Salomon.
“Outside observers were not optimistic, and even some parents didn’t believe their children could do the work.”
Before the first batch was brewed, Salomon called together the entire staff of Tsad Kadima and demonstrated the brewing process so that everyone would be conversant with it.
Then, about three months ago, the first bottles of Kadima Beer were ready. Launching parties were held at the Sira Pub in downtown Jerusalem (operated by the Shapiro Brewery in Beit Shemesh) and at the Mifletzet (“Monster”) Pub in the capital’s Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood. The Tsad Kadima brewers also attended these parties, enjoying the beer and the beer talk with the general public.
“This was a very important step in the whole inclusion process,” explains Salomon. “Our participants met the public as equals in a completely social situation, drinking beer together, exchanging brewing stories and being the center of attraction for those evenings.”
AS FOR the Kadima Beers themselves, I was able to taste three kinds: an Amber Ale, refreshing, with a bitter citrus taste; a Dry Stout, dark ruby brown, with aroma and taste of dark chocolate, and a dry finish which balances the sweetness of the chocolate; a Belgian Wheat (Witbier), a very cloudy and creamy ale, sweet with a mild orange taste and spicy finish.
Beyond the quality and taste of the beer itself is the huge social dimension which makes Kadima Beer so special. Beer historians (yes, there are such things) point out that the grain-fermented beverage has been bringing people together for at least 4,000 years. The brewery at Tsad Kadima is certainly the latest expression of this continuing phenomenon. Beer enthusiasts who sees these young people in action, overcoming their own physical disabilities to brew beer, can be excused if tears come to their eyes.
For the future, Colodner would like to find new markets for Kadima Beer.
“We’ll be speaking to stores and pubs, and maybe even companies that want to buy beer for their workers.
We now produce only 60 bottles a week, but we can easily expand that with bigger and more modern equipment. Our participants have shown that they can handle the work!” TSAD KADIMA was established in 1987 by parents and professionals to provide educational and rehabilitative services to children and adults with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities nationwide. These services include rehabilitative daycare centers for babies, special education kindergartens and schools, inclusive classes in regular schools, training and residential apartments in the community, and a day center for adults.
The system used at Tsad Kadima is called conductive education, a unique pedagogy that considers all aspects of human development in an integrated learning and teaching manner. The goal is to help the disabled person become an autonomous, active and participating adult, leading a meaningful, interesting life with friends and family, and with the freedom to make his own decisions in life.
Salomon would be happy to speak with any brewers who want to volunteer their time to help Tsad Kadima improve the quality and output of its beer.
The writer is the owner of MediawiSe, an agency for advertising and direct marketing in Jerusalem. He writes a web log on Israeli craft beers at www.IsraelBrewsAnd-