As a way of an introduction before meeting this weeks featured persons, allow me to tell you that in Israel, they like to give the label ‘Start-up’ to pretty much anything that is technically starting up and also which is not necessarily technically starting up. Confused? Me too, but the gist is that its not just high-tech which can wear the ‘Start-up badge in this innovative country.
So when an old, superstar family friend (Aharon Hyman) points you in the direction of a young couple who have recently transitioned from home brewing to bottling on a wee bit larger scale, the ‘nachas’ throttle kicks right in and you pester them for a full week to find out more. And I am certainly glad I did, because Hadas and Ohad Katz are quite lovely and their journey to beer brewing contains all the good mushy stuff which the romantics pine for.
In a tiny spot down south near Eilat, resides a small cluster of residence called Tsukim. This is real desert town stuff. But its also the residence of the modest 200 sqft Arava Brewry, which boasts 200 ltrs of brewing divided into their Dark Ale, Amber Ale and Blond Ale (with the Amber ale being their flagship brew).
But before all that in 2007, Hadas, personifying the perfect wife and partner, bought a home brew kit for Ohad’s birthday. I will pause now in the hope that my wife is reading this, and to allow time for that to sink in.
A few years and recipes later with the intention of “Making a beer which reflects the area in depth and taste” and I am licking my lips in anticipation of tasting what this wonderful couple have come up with. But alas, I don’t actually have their wares in my possession to be able to do so, as it is not readily available in my neck of the woods. However, they have told me that the ‘Beer Market’ in Yaffo located on the Namal can sort me out with a few bottles and that is exactly where I will be heading, just as soon as I am done repenting this weekend.
They have labeled their beers “קָצְרָה” (a prefix for all 3 beers) after the name of one of the scenic river streams to pass through the Arava and, if I have translated this correctly, cuts across the ancient formed road of the Nabatean tribe. A quick Wikipedia search will inform you that these Nabatean people were an ancient Semitic tribe who wore themselves out this passage on their pilgrimage journey’s selling salts and perfumes. And I thought I would get away with having a few beers tonight and attempt to write humorously about ‘the burp’ (now a crowd favorite) – not a chance. My head is spinning and not felt more educated as since the last time I picked up the GQ magazine, and even then it was an education in latest boxer short styles for the Spring.
Coming back to the Arava Brewery, they kindly offer tasting notes on the bottles to help you along, an admirable sign of true enthusiasts, making sure their punters feel that they feel and see what they see. And when I asked Hadas to pull one out of a the lineup first, “If we had to pick one it would be the Katzra Inbar – for a fruity taste and a great smell”.
So why write a piece on a brewery before I have even tasted the goods, so to speak?
I shall tell you why. Because completely irregardless of the taste, Hadas and Ohad embody all that I love and admire about the Israeli Craft Beer scene. They and many like them, are the soul and inspiration for me to sit in front of the same laptop screen I have been sitting in front of for a full working day, and should by rights be sick at the sight of google chrome, and still belt out the blog post you have hopefully just enjoyed reading. The taste right now simply does not matter. But rest assured I will be reviewing each one individually on the blog in the coming weeks, so please keep an eye out.
And finally, to share Hadas’s parting advise/tip for the causal home-brewer, “Stop bottling the beer and buy a keg….” – A wise send-off if there ever was!
You can purchase Arava beer in specialized stores and pubs. For a full list please see below but remember that this list is always growing so please keep revising :
You can get in touch with Hadas and Ohed via the website, so if you want to see Arava Beers on the shelves of your local shop or on tap at your local bar/pub…you know what to do.