Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Night Suds - Lone Tree Brewery India Pale Ale and English Northern Ale

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at two beers brewed by the Lone Tree Brewery of Neve Daniel (Israel) - the India Pale Ale and English Northern Ale.

Last July, I was contacted by an Israeli journalist who had an interesting request. He was writing a piece on an Israeli brewery called Lone Tree and he wanted my review of their product. Normally I am hardly shy about my thoughts on beer, but in this situation I was simply at a loss. The brewery did not export to the United States and while they had a very interesting list of brews on their website ( that simply could not get me very far for purposes of sampling their product. As such, I politely declined the request from the journalist.

A few weeks later the article was published in Ha'aretz and I learned a great deal more about Lone Tree. As discussed in the article (found here at the brewery was started by a team of an American and a Scottish oleh who wanted to produce the quality beer they missed from their home countries. The brewery produces a modest volume of beer - about 250 - 300 bottles per week. The article also revealed that Lone Tree beer is sold in Jerusalem's Machane Yehudah and other outlets in Israel.

About six weeks ago I received another inquiry about Lone Tree, although this request came from the brewery itself. I was contacted by David Shire (the Scottish half of the Lone Tree team), who asked me whether I had heard of the brewery. I told him about my contact with Ha'aretz and inquired about the prospects for export. I learned that they had been approached by distributors in various countries about exporting Lone Tree, but they were not ready to do so at present (considering their volume is what the average craft brewery in the US produces in an hour, its quite understandable). However, David was willing to send a care package with a friend who was coming to the US and as such about ten days before before Purim I received bottles of Lone Tree's English Northern Ale, India Pale Ale and California Steam Ale. Once they were in my possession I knew that I had to save them to be sampled on Purim. Despite my yetzer hara (evil inclination), I did manage to keep them unopened until Purim. What follows is a brief review of the India Pale Ale and English Northern Ale (the California Steam Ale is being saved for next week's review).

The first bottle that I opened on Purim was the Lone Tree India Pale Ale. I chose this first, partly because I am a big fan of the IPA style and partly because I did not know what to expect from the English Northern Ale.

The Lone Tree India Pale Ale would have passed a Gordon Ramsay blind taste test challenge as the taste was pure IPA. The hops were readily apparent and the bite was absolutely perfect. I had my doubts about the carbonation due to the beer having made a trans-Atlantic flight in someones suitcase, but if there was any reduction it was lost on me.

The IPA went extremely well with the turkey and lentil rice served at the Purim seudah as the flavors blended perfectly. However, the IPA was of such high quality that it could be easily enjoyed by itself and I quietly lamented that I only had one bottle of this fine brew. I would rate this with superior domestic IPAs such as Sierra Nevada.

The second Lone Tree brew which I enjoyed with friends at our second Purim seudah was the English Northern Ale.

I must admit that I did not know what to expect from the Lone Tree English Northern Ale. This style of beer is not available domestically and my research on the normally authoritative Beer Advocate website did not turn up any reference to this class of brews. A similar search on also did not yield any references to this style.

With no frame of reference to work with, I decided to try the beer by itself and along with some brisket. My first taste of the English Northern Ale revealed some citrusy hops, but a more subdued flavor than an IPA. I shared some with Mrs. Kosher Beers and my friend Jeremy R and we all thought that the beer was a very easy drinking brew. I would recommend the Lone Tree English Northern Ale to those who are looking to take a first step from macrolagers into ales as the subtle ale flavor makes this a good transition brew.

Lone Tree beers are under the hashgacha of R' Abba Shaul from Gush. The Lone Tree website contains a link to the certification along with a complete list of the beers offered by Lone Tree.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver. (The Lone Tree bottle even indicates in Hebrew on the reverse side label that the beer should be consumed responsibly).

If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

Finally, if you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!


Anonymous said...

I've tried them all and they are all very bitter.

Neil T said...

I have only tried three of them, but have not found them to be bitter (other than the IPA which is supposed to have some hop bite).

Perhaps the ones you sampled were not stored properly?