Smoky and the three beers

The beer season officially opens after Passover.

Beer [Illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Beer [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Beer styles that have been foreign to Israel – available here only as imports – are now being made by our local micro-breweries. Witness, for example, Pilsners and oak-aged stouts.
Now add to the list smoked beers. The distinctive smoky taste of these beers is achieved by kilning the malted grain above open flames. The degree of smokiness you smell and taste in the beer depends on how long the malt is smoked and what kind of malt is used in the first place.
The Dictator Big Peat
One of the newer smoky beers is Big Peat from The Dictator Brewery (contract brewed at the Beer Bazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat).
Big Peat’s smokiness is also achieved by smoking the grain – but one generation removed. That is, the malt that is smoked is used to distill Big Peat Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, from the island of Islay, which is then added to the beer. The malt is actually smoked over the burning embers of peat, which gives its name to the whisky and the beer.
For several winters, Dictator partner and brewer Yotam Baras has been producing a whiskyinfused ale such as this, but until now he’s been using Laphroaig for the Scotch.
“From now on,” he says, “we will be choosing a different whisky every year. And this year we also used a pale ale as a base instead of a red ale. We found that the whisky enhances the fruitiness and sweetness of a pale ale even better.”
But whichever whisky is in the beer, it gives the beer two kicks – a kick in taste and a kick in strength. Big Peat is a hefty 9.9% alcohol and is full of distinctive flavors.
The beer is a clear, light amber color with very little foam. You can’t miss the aroma of smoky Scotch whisky – that is, if you’ve ever had a good and smoky Scotch whisky. There is also yeast and fruit and some kind of fresh smell, like a room after it was just cleaned. Such an aroma can be quite pleasant.
There is more smoked whisky in the taste, along with sweet malt and very subdued hoppiness. The body is full. For all the whisky added to the beer, it is not very noticeable (other than the smoke, of course). In fact, the finish is quite sweet.
I enjoyed Big Peat, the beer, and I’m quite sure I would like Big Peat the whisky. You shouldn’t drink too much of it at one sitting, though, because of its alcoholic and gustatory strength. Baras suggests you share your bottle of Big Peat with a friend, and that’s a good idea.
Mosco Smoked
From the Mosco Brewery on Moshav Zanoach near Beit Shemesh comes their Smoked Beer, which last year took first place in the Flavored Beer category in the Golden Beer competition for Israeli commercial brewers.
The smokiness in this beer is not overpowering, just one of the taste sensations among many.
The beer is a cloudy amber color with low carbonation. Already in the aroma, the smoke is evident.
My drinking partner, Moshe, who is a carnivore, said that the smell was like “smoked meat.” The taste is very rich and malty, with some smoke, caramel and yeast.
The smoke taste contributes to the long and dry finish. Alcohol by volume is a hefty 7%.
This is an enjoyable beer by itself, certainly with salty snacks, but would also pair well with foods that can be smoked, such as certain cheeses, vegetables and desserts.
Sheeta Smoked
Sheeta Smoked is the new beer from the Sheeta Brewery in Arad, owned and operated by Jean and Neta Torgovitsky.
I found this a very enjoyable smoked beer. Once again, the smoke is not overpowering, but it’s there; you can’t miss it. The aroma is smoked meat and wood smoke, while the taste is a nice blend of hops and smoke with a sour finish. The color is dark amber, with low carbonation and therefore almost no foam.
Alcohol by volume is 5%.
The body is very thin, bordering on the watery. I would have liked this beer to be thicker and sweeter, but then I wouldn’t have wanted to drink so much of it. So, nicely done, Mr. and Mrs.Torgovitsky.
Israeli fans of smoked beer now have fewer reasons to turn to European imports. By all means give these imports a try, but don’t forget to look for the smokies with Hebrew labels as well.
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.IsraelBrewsAndViews.blogspot.co.il.


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