Let me start by saying I’ve messed up my visit in this lovely small brewery by focusing my time on enjoying friends’ company (which I don’t apologise about), but that means I haven’t actually went and pestered the brewers (Eric and Ofir) to know more about their beers and process (Which I am sorry about), but I did got the chance to try all their beers and buy some great few liters to drink back at home for the next couple of days (from the tap).
Salara brewery is located at Kibutz Ganigar in Yizrael Valley, in what looks to be an o ld agricultural shed that been patched together with a nice deck, small garden and an outside kitchen (they have great smoked meats on Fridays). The atmosphere is very much of the 90′ in Israel, very laid back and friendly, from the times that Israelis (mainly my age group) were introduced to beer. The tap room is at the entrance to the brewery and we were served by a young girl who knew how to serve the beers (I’m guessing One of the brewers daughter?).
To the beers:
Salara have 5 beers on offer: light lager, dark bitter, weissbeir, Belgium ale and smoked stout. All the beers are excellent with a good balance of sweetness and bitterness, despite the Israeli habit of over sweetening the the beers.
Light lager – I usually only drink lager as an after thought when I want some thing quick and refreshing or when this is the only thing available, but the Salara lager is excellent – full of flavour, have nice malty sweetness and is very cloudy and thick – almost on the verge of a weiss.
Belgium beer – I’m not a fan of Belgium beer, I find them too yeasty and sweet, and that was the same (which I guess makes it good?). It also had a light smoky aroma somewhere there, which was a pleasant surprise.
Weissbeir – a refreshing wheat beer, very light, almost yellow in colour, unfiltered and yeasty thickness. Very enjoyable, as we even brought for home (in a 1.75 cola bottle) and was great for a slow evening.
Dark bitter – it was indeed dark, but not as bitter as I would like, closer to a mild (but with 5.3%!) in flavour, thick and sweet, maybe the Israeli habit. Either way, the beer was very nice, even if not a classic bitter, and had a great smokiness to it (maybe some smoked barley thrown in). We had a big bottle with us at the beach for a hot afternoon and it was perfect. I guess it is great if you want a light option that has a little more interest than the usual beers.
Smoked stout – by far my favorite in the Salara collection. Very dark, almost black, stout, creamy and bitter with a nice gentle smoke, not too aggressive as smoked stouts tend to be. The pouring was right, and unlike the rest of the stouts I had in Israel, not too carbonated and properly thick and bitter.
Salara is a great to go and grab a few beers, enjoy a lazy afternoon and soak Israel of 15 years ago of more naive times. I’m a little embarrassed I haven’t followed up with the brewers to learn more about their beers, but I guess this just means i have to come back again and have that little conversation. If you are around, and want a good beer, go, no doubt, and if you have or had a chat with Eric and Ofir about their beers and how they make them, leave me a comment and so i can learn too.