Anyone who drinks Tequila is probably familiar with the sight of a worm floating in the bottle. Once a sign of the potency of the drink (and today probably more of a gimmick), it is said that the worm died trying to drink itself out of the bottle. It didn't make it out, but at least it died happy. That's kind of what I felt like after two days of pouring beer at the Disingof Center annual craft beer fair. It was exhausting and exhilarating, and by the end of it I was left with the feeling that if you tried to do this every day, you would surely die of exhaustion. But you would die happy.
One of the great things about being in an event like this is the people you meet along the way. From the first-time drinkers who have never tasted anything other than commercial beer before, to the "professional" tasters who give you valuable (if not always pleasant) feedback, to the fellow brewers on both sides of the booths - the drinkers, and the presenters. There were far too many great presenters at the event for me to mention in one blog post, sadly, but I'll try to mention at least a couple...
The first familiar face I encountered, in the Center parking lot, was Gal Sapir from Gal's Brewery. I thought this was an auspicious sign, because it's totally Gal fault that I'm brewing today. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But the fact is that his "Talash" memorial brew was the first home brewed beer that I tasted in this country, and while I wish the circumstances were happier, I still think it was one of the best things that has happened to me. From the first taste I was hooked. Beer with flavor! Amazing. A side from being an inspiration to many (in his day job Gal counsels youth against drug use) he's also a wacky guy and great fun to hang out with.
Gopher's Beer opened my eyes to the amazing possibilities of this unique brew. His Klobaska beer was the first beer I tasted in the first beer festival I went to (the now sadly defunct Ma'abarot festival) and I still remember the taste. I took a sip, took an other sip, took a third sip, and then wordlessly handed the glass to my friend who was standing next to me. It was amazing. I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that the beer had actual sausage in it. The taste was so spot on that you really expected to find "Kosher-Meat" stamped on the back.
Laughing Buddha brewery. A great guy and fellow hitech-er who took a day off from his job to find some refuge in quality brew. The Buddha is a great brewery because it not only makes great beer, but it keeps making different great beers all the time. This is much harder than it sounds, if you consider how long it takes to come up with a great recipe, tweak it, prefect it, and brew and re-brew it until you can reliably make the beer. I know a lot of breweries who make great beer, but who stick to the same lineup of three or four beer. I can't blame them: When you make a barleywine that will age for four years like Vova you are taking a huge business risk, and not everyone wants to do that. But I think that the long line of thirsty drinkers at his stand proves that he's doing something right.
Finally there was Mati from the Habesora Brewery. Unfortunately, with all the hubbub and commotion I never got to taste his beers. But the "Winner of the Saint Patrick Irish beer challenge" plaque on his booth and the long line in front of it spoke volumes about the quality of his beers. In fact, between Vova, who was "upstream" from me, and Mati who was "upstream" from him, by the time people got to my booth, they were pretty much drunk! It's all good, though.
All in all, great event, great people, and great beer. I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who came by the booth. To Mk Keren and Elad for the feedback, to Ben Fried, Ari Schmidt, and Michaela Wulff for the help behind the counter, and most important to my wife, who not only came and helped, but actually puts up with all this hobby entails. :)
See you all in two weeks, at Longshot!