I’ll come right out with it. I am a putty in the hands of a good IPA, far above all other beers. There, I said it. I mean, you can like it and you can enjoy it, but there is no quick way to fully appreciate the depth and variety of this beer style short of simply drinking lots different versions of it. And this rather suits me down to the last sip. And so, as if right on cue these past couple of years, some of the Israeli craft breweries which already have a few years of commercial brewing under their beer bellies, seem to have collectively decided that Israelite’s in general should be taking a step up from the Pale Ales and exploring new territories of in-depth taste sensations.
This realisation was drummed home again yesterday while I was meandering down the isles of my local ‘sweet shop’ looking for a nice wine for the Sukkot Holiday (worry not, the beers had been stacked up long prior) and I clocked a distant sparkle in fridge. A closer inspection offered bright green, modern metropolitan styled beer bottle announcing “THE UGLY INDIAN”. A reverse psychology brand thingimy? It’s not important, because I am about to demonstrate that not in words, but in taste, should this beer be judged. Now the marketing ploy might or might not have the desired effect on the public, but to me, the letters IPA are usually enough to make me spill the shekels, and so I did. Gladly. On three bottles to be precise.
Usually it takes quite the fanatic to derive much pleasure from the pouring a bottle of beer into a glass. Now a freshly confessed fanatical blob of putty, I confess that I got a lot of enjoyment out of this action. Have you ever seen any of the numerous Guiness adverts where the camera would zoom in to show the air rising from the bottom up of the glass up to the creamy head? Well let me tell you, that is simply an exaggeration if you have ever witnessed it yourself in real time. But here we have the real deal in my opinion. Rising up to the the large frothy head which delightfully seems to be in no rush to go anywhere once settled atop this dark bronzed ale, are loads magical air stream thingys zooming up. It was quite mesmerizing to watch and I even tried a bit of camera zooming in myself, which came out rubbish on the iphone. See for yourself anyway.
Very strong hoppy aroma. Distinctly IPA with a warning shot that your in for a bitter treat, triggered off by an wet earthy sort of smell.
The first task was to lick away the head which was still proudly protruding over the top of my glass. I did this with a finger actually. Getting further stuck into the depth of this beer, it was so very smooth going down the hole and I was getting those lovely citrus, fruity IPA tastes as expected. Indeed, all was fine and dandy. The second taste is where this beer makes a bold statement which weirdly enough allowed me to understand the “Ugly Indian” sentiment on the label. It is strong, rather dry & very bitter and if I was to do some brain-familiarity-mapping; ‘brambles’ and ‘weeds’. Please don’t understand this to be a criticism, this kind of taste in a thick ale is extremely popular world wide, and I personally can adapt to it with much ease. If I am honest, this seems to be a beer with far more depth than its modest exterior led me to anticipate. The third layer was the after-taste, and here is where possibly it falls a little short of full marks because I found the dry bitter lingering to be slightly too dominant, not allowing any of the earlier API fruity flavors a chance to hang about on your tongue and in your memory.
I had probably spent too long watching the air inside the glass fizzing its way northward because when expecting it to do the same thing inside of me, the momentum had gone leaving me waiting awkwardly for a sensation which, when finally materialized, didn’t really offer a re-round of any of these fabulous tastes.
I think this is a very outdoorsy beer. Not the beach but I think the tastes are all very close to the natural wild outdoors. Perhaps divine providence allowed me to review this brew just prior to and during the Sukkot Holidays, because with this new fresh and cool air we are being treated to in Israel, a Ronen Brewery “Ugly Indian API’ in the Sukkah on this fine evening, is absolute magic. Give it a try boys and Girls. Chag Sameach
I did not have time to research this beer at all before I tasted it and wrote the above review, but before publishing it (after the second bottle an evening later) I did some reading and it turns out that it is actually an award winner from the international BIRA 2011 awards. WOW! The praise for this must be given to the brewmaster, Ofer Ronen. I am not certain of this, but I would guess his surname had a measure of influence – I hope to meet him some day.
6.5% Alc per 330ml
The Ronen beer line is brewed in the Srigim Brewery set on the beautiful backdrop of the “British Park” where they also offer an impressive visitor center and a tour. For more info visit their website: http://www.srigim-beer.co.il/