Life is all the more enjoyable with a cold beer in hand. And there are more beers than ever to choose from, given the craft beer explosion in the U.S. that also arrived in Israel a few years ago.
While long-time staples such as Budweiser, Miller Lite, Michelob and Coors are still popular in the States, as are Maccabee and Gold Star in Israel, beer drinker palates have changed and matured considerably in recent years. A diverse range of IPAs (India Pale Ale), stouts, pilsners, lagers, blondes, cream ales, brown ales, amber ales and so much more are now easily found. Most of these newer varieties are produced by local breweries in smaller batches, as their brewpubs have become gathering places for millennials and beyond.
While there are literally hundreds of craft beer establishments across the U.S., and dozens have also sprouted up in Israel, here are some of the more interesting and popular ones to try:
Established in 2005 as Israel’s first micro-brewery, it was founded by American ex-pat David Cohen from Brooklyn. The facility is centrally located in a circa 1930’s grain storage building in Tel Aviv. Cohen offers five year-round brews including a blonde ale named Eve, and the popular and velvety Midnight Stout. Dancing Camel’s 10 seasonal brews range from Hey, Ju Boy, a summer blonde ale made with juniper berries: Leche del Diablo, which is made with Shaata, an Israeli chili pepper; and a unique cherry-vanilla stout made especially for Hanukkah.
Maryland’s first brewpub was established in Halethorpe, in suburban Baltimore in 1989. Heavy Seas is now distributed in southern New England, throughout the mid-Atlantic states, and into the southeast and Florida. Year-round brews include Peg Leg Imperial Stout and Powder Monkey IPA. The seasonally available Cannon Crew brews range from Loose Cannon IPA, to TropiCannon Citrus IPA and AmeriCannon Pale Ale.
While not exactly an “independent” brewer since its acquisition by Anheuser-Busch in 2011, Chicago-based Goose Island was one of the early micro-breweries in the U.S. when it started up in 1988. The brewer offers an extensive array of year-round and seasonal brews including 312 Urban Wheat Ale, SPF Fruit Ale, Old Man Grumpy American Pale Ale, Sofie Belgian-Style Farmhouse Ale and Goose Island IPA.
This Brewery was integral to the beer revolution in the U.S. Sam Adams Boston Lager was first concocted in its founder’s kitchen, utilizing his great grandfather’s recipe that he discovered in his father’s attic. The 35-year-old nationwide company now makes a wide variety of brews to satisfy any palate, all with creative names like Sam ’76, New England IPA, Cold Snap, White Christmas, Porch Rocker, Rebel IPA and Stony Brook Red.
Brothers Itzik and Dani Shapiro began making beer in a basement in the German Colony neighborhood of Jerusalem in the early 2000s. Finally, in 2011, they joined forces with brewmaster Yochai Kudler and formed the Shapiro Brewery. Their offerings include the original Pale Ale, Barrel Aged Chocolate Porter, Strong Sour, Jack’s Winter Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Wheat Beer and of course, an IPA.
One of the most prolific beermakers in the U.S., pFriem Family Brewers is located in Hood River, Oregon, about an hour east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge. Pfriem produces over 70 different varieties of premium craft beers, and they’ve only been at it since 2012. Their beer is available throughout Oregon, Washington State, and in select areas of British Columbia. If you like beer, they probably make several that would whet your taste buds. From Irish stout to several IPAs, lagers and blondes to pilsners and sours, barrel-aged saisons and multiple Belgian-style brews, pFriem’s variety is tough to beat.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of Chico, California is the seventh-largest brewer in the U.S., as well as the largest privately-owned brewery. Sierra’s Pale Ale is second only to Boston Brewery’s Samuel Adams Boston Lager in craft beer sales. In addition to their Pale Ale, fan favorites include Oktoberfest, Torpedo IPA, Brut IPA, Bigfoot IPA, Bavarian-style Wheat, Stout (their first beer), Old Chico Wheat and Ovila Belgian-style White Ale. Sierra Nevada has a second brewery in North Carolina and is sold in stores, restaurants and pubs nationwide.
Israel’s Srigim Brewery produces a range of beers at their facility in Li-On, a small community settlement about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Popular brews include Bavarian Wheat, Belgian Tripel, a dark beer, an IPA, plus a Blond Ale and Irish Red Ale. Srigim also produces beers for other microbrewers and offers a visitor’s center where you can sample many varieties on tap or take some bottled beer home. It is a favorite Saturday gathering spot for Israeli beer lovers.
So, beer lovers, sit back, relax, and savor the most refreshing beverage you can find. Resume old friendships, hang out with your pooch, or just kick back after a hard day’s work. There’s a fresh, cold one (or more) waiting for you, and it’s likely to be within walking distance.