Beer-garden cheer

Last month, a bona fide Bavarian beer garden opened in the Tel Aviv Port.

The new Tel Aviv beer garden’s titular inspiration comes from the Abbey of Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery (photo credit: TAMAR MATSAFI)
The new Tel Aviv beer garden’s titular inspiration comes from the Abbey of Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery
(photo credit: TAMAR MATSAFI)
When he first came to this part of the world, almost 40 years ago now, Roni Levy was just into getting something of the Israeli experience, hanging out with some of his fellow Swedes for a year, and possibly learning to manage a Hebrew conversation or two.
Yet the 50-something Stockholm-born Levy had been bitten by the Israeli bug, and he returned to these shores, permanently, a few years later. Inheriting sturdy business acumen from his entrepreneurial dad, he ran a string of businesses, including a hostel and a laundromat, but eventually moved into a far tastier, and more merriment-inducing, line of work – booze.
For some years now he has been a partner in the best known Irish watering holes in Tel Aviv, starting with Molly Bloom’s on Hayarkon Street, Leo Bloom’s in Ramat Hahayal in the city’s northerly quarters and, last year, the third Emerald Isle-style saloon opened for business in swanky Sarona Market.
But now Levy and his partners have shifted their alcoholic endeavors in a more Teutonic direction and, last month, established a bona fide Bavarian beer garden in the Tel Aviv Port. The enterprise goes by the name of 1040 Biergarten and proffers an impressive range of Weihenstephan products lovingly produced in Germany. The company claims to be the world’s oldest functioning brewery. Levy notes that the Germans didn’t exactly invent the intoxicating beverage, but that the German company has definitely has longevity bragging rights.
“Beer was around with the Egyptians, a long time before,” he says, “but the brewery in Bavaria is still operating today.”
The beer garden’s titular inspiration comes from the world’s oldest brewery, the Abbey of Weihenstephan, which received the official thumbs-up to produce booze almost a thousand years ago. Legend has it, however, that the monks there began brewing a full three centuries before obtaining a manufacturing license.
Levy and his colleagues certainly found themselves a cozy spot. 1040 Biergarten sits happily at the corner of Building 16 in the port compound, bordered by the requisite outdoor expanse which is outfitted with long wooden tables and benches, sunshades aplenty and strings of colored lights to enhance your nighttime supping experience.
“We wanted to have the long tables, to have the atmosphere of the beer cellar,” Levy explains. “People sit outside, and they can hear the music – Sixties, Seventies, Eighties pop and rock – and they can eat too.
We have a good menu,” They feature plenty of traditional fare, mostly of a decidedly non-vegetarian and non-vegan ilk. “We’ve got different kinds of sausages, cheeses, and pretzels and that sort of thing,” Levy adds. Mind you, non-carnivores will still find plenty to line their stomachs, with several salads, a dish that goes by the name of Baden-Baden Roasted Veggies, a cheese sandwich and a number of potato-based side dishes, naturally including french fries. There is even a selection of desserts to be had.
Besides the vantage point, 1040 Biergarten’s uniqueness lies in the range of brews it has on tap. “In Israel, today, you can only get this type, which is the most popular,” says Levy, indicating the pump with Hefeweissbier on it, in suitably stylized lettering. “You can find Hefeweissbier everywhere. Everybody loves it.”
The brew in question is a light unfiltered wheat beer with a delicate flavor. The little booklet the bar puts out notes that Hefeweissbier “pairs well with sausages, smoked cheese and salmon.”
The beer garden’s range appears to have most taste bud bases covered. All told, there are seven brews on offer, taking in Original Hells, a traditional unfiltered full-bodied lager, which is said to go down well with salads and chicken dishes. Drinkers looking for something of a darker stripe, might enjoy Dunkel, which is also of the unfiltered variety, but is much darker and amber-colored with a decidedly malty tinge to it.
The aforementioned beverages all hover around the 5% alcohol content mark, but if you want to get into some heavier stuff, the richly colored Korbinian, with a full-bodied texture to boot, should deliver on that score, while Vitus, which weighs in at 7.7%, is the strongest of the lot. The latter is a fruity concoction, and the bar brochure suggests complementing your Vitus drinking experiencing by putting away soft cheeses and/or chicken sausages.
And, if you happening to be a law-abiding citizen and don’t have any teetotal friends around, worry not, the on-tap lineup includes a non-alcoholic wheat beer – the aptly named Alkoholfrei Hefeweissbier. It is a tangy little number which provides the palate pleasures of the “real thing” while leaving you completely sober, and fit to drive.
In addition to the pump drinks, the beer garden offers consumers bottles. Levy generously furnished me with a bottle of Weihenstephaner 1516, which currently resides in my fridge and will, no doubt, be happily consumed by the weekend. The brew was made this year, and this year only, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot – literally, “purity law.” Historians tell us that in 1516 Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria applied his ducal seal to a decree that limited the price of beer. It also governed what ingredients could be used, to water, barley and hops. “It has a fruity taste... and they made only one batch,” Levy explains.
As anyone who has visited any of the aforementioned Irish-leaning establishments will know, authentic aesthetics are an important component of the venture in question. While Molly Bloom’s, for example, has the requisite wood paneling, stained-glass windows and other visual paraphernalia that one readily associates with Irish watering holes, 1040 Biergarten sports a very different look. “We went for a design that has as much in common, as possible, as a German beer garden,” says Levy. “In Munich, most of the beer gardens and pubs and bars have an area where you keep your own glass,” he continues. “It’s like having your own locker, with your glass or tankard. There, they usually have a nice brass sink, where the regulars can wash their own glass, and then they put them away.” Levy’s establishment doesn’t have the sink, but there is finely crafted cabinet for the storage of private drinking receptacles. Conveniently, 1040 Biergarten sells a variety of beer glasses.
The place also caters to families and kids. “There are playing areas on the other side of the grass,” says Levy pointing northwards. “So, for example, parents can come here with their children and, while the children play close by, the adults can enjoy a beer, or have a takeaway.” Sounds like a nice arrangement.
1040 Biergarten is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. “until the last guest leaves,” and opens at noon on Fridays and Saturdays, with the same flexible closing time.