We are witnessing a severe and profitable surge into the realms of bitter, heavily American influenced beers, infused with new and exciting hops, and the forecast is not due to change any time soon. But I would implore you from time to time, to take a step back, let your palette calm down from whichever recent IPA it has been swimming in, and experience beer from a completely different angle, where the taste emphasises the yeast, the flavour of malts are recognisable in their own proud right, and strange and unfamiliar hops from what you are used to in recent years; and procure yourself a bottle of Ha’dubim Brewery’s latest attempt.
Ha’dubim Brewery are bringing out a new beer at such a staggering rate that only the Israeli media can compete by numbers with programs exploring someone’s financial situation with a hidden camera! This beer however, marks a radical change in direction in beer style that we are accustomed to from the brewery. At least temporarily. Those ”Hop head” brothers that run the joint are almost synonymous with American West coast styled hop beers (with the odd porter or red ale thrown in for good measure). The label, albeit in tune with the ‘Marvel’ style branding of the rest of their beers, is very different. For a start, its a picture of a tea cup! Did I jolt like a startled Englishman at the sheer brazen affront of using our internationally renowned drinking past time, on a bottle of beer? Did I grumble like an an aggravated Scot who knows that the joke is on him? Maybe years ago, but not today. Today I hold up the bottle of 5 0’clock and smile very chuffingly to myself.
Bit on the cheeky side with the name? Absolutely. Bit offensive with the tea reference? Probably also. But such is the state of our not so small any more, beer revolution, that I can take pride and pleasure in the fact that one of the oldest brewing styles and beer tastes known to man, are still to this day being brewed word wide. In this case, its the middle of the bloody middle east where I note how it;
Very carbonated, over excitedly into the glass and rising unpredictably. When it stops just short of spilling, witness a large airy and clingy head. Ever so slightly cloudy perfect golden honey colour. An ESB proper in tone.
Very pungent. yeasty & Simple English hops (East Kent & Fuggle – not much difference in between them to be honest). Nothing deep, nothing fancy. Pure, simple and honest. I would also say that in comparison to English IPA’s and ESB’s, this has a more crisp and sharp aroma to it, which I assume is due to the absolute freshness of the brew. Straight out of Mivshelet Haám where the Ha’dubim do their brewing, and on the the shelf in the space of about a week I reckon.
The taste follows through from the smelling stage perfectly, but with an added brilliance to the flavour that you will get only a hint of after you swallow. I know I’m telling the story backwards here, but that lingering taste on the deep sides of your tongue is literally what I live for in a good beer. Rotten fruit with a twist of bitter Gin just hanging about there (like Tel Aviv hipsters sitting on a bench who don’t know when to call it a night), a trait that you cant help but appreciate and admire. The rotten fruit are now more pronounced with a soft mature & rounded mild bitter tones.
Continuing on our backwards journey, let me tell you about beautiful smoothness of this Ale. IF the pour comes out carbonated in the extreme, the mouth-feel is ANYTHING but fizzy. Completely the opposite, its has the smooth texture and mouth feel of a seasoned stout. I am not exaggerating here either. I had to look back at the glass to check I was not mistaken and look out again for the streams of carbonation fiercely shooting up into the head. But they were no more! Dead calm the gold liquid sat, unflinching under the pretty lace lingering to the inside of the glass above it.
Perhaps the only improvement I would suggest would be a to a add a bit more complexity to the malts. Marris Otter and the standard Pale Malt used here are safe choices but don’t allow for any real complexity to the already very well balanced recipe of hops.
Its really not easy to get the extreme contrasting textures the Ha’dubim boys have achieved here. Maybe it was a fluke but I doubt it. I am not one for rating beers by numbers, but this would be way into the 90’s if I did.
I am aware that perhaps I harbour a certain bias towards the taste of an English IPA over other beer styles. But then again, if your going to put a teacup on a beer bottle label you are asking for it, are you not?