Like Ahab pursuing his mythic white whale, I’ve been on the lookout for Dancing Camel beer since my arrival in Israel now some 10 days ago. I’ve been close a couple of times – once today, at the shuk (Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem), where I’ve found the Dancing Camel beer line before. And before that a number of days ago when I was in Tel Aviv just a half a mile from the brewery/restaurant itself, only to discover that it opened later in the day, and my schedule would not permit waiting. In both cases the Camel eluded my grasp, slipping away just as I thought I had it in my sights.
But full confession – my disappointment has been tempered by the craft beer scene here in Israel, which is exploding. There are dozens of breweries, producing hundreds of beers, a number of them quite good. From Dancing Camel in Tel Aviv to Shapiro Beer in Jerusalem, from Malka in the north to Herzl Brewing with its ‘blibical beer,’ Israeli brewers are perfecting their craft and producing a variety of stouts, porters, IPAs, dubels, and wheat beers that are delicious and truly worthy of the ‘craft beer’ designation.
Just a few examples:
We emerged from our tour of Akko with its Crusader period ruins, through a gift shop (of course!) and out into a tiny alleyway that leads back to the main square. Just a few steps down the alley and you’ll find a small Malka Beer ‘tied house.’ The tart and citrusy IPA was a perfect thirst quencher on a hot day of touring.
Or the shuk itself! Mahane Yehuda can try the patience of a saint on a Friday afternoon, but these days it is filled with tiny bars and pubs where you can cool off, cool down, have a nosh, and of course drink Israeli craft beer. I watched the undulating sea of shoppers jostling along the market’s narrow thoroughfares while sipping a fruity Pale Ale made by Shapiro Brewing in Jerusalem. With a palate scorched by the IPA/DIPA craze in the Sates, this pale ale was a welcome throwback to the nascent days of the American micro scene and beers like Geary’s Pale Ale and the original version of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. What better way to wash down felafel in pita?
Last but not least the Glen Whisk(e)y Bar, located in the heart of Jerusalem (Shlomtziyon HaMalka 18), just a short walk from the Mamilla Mall. In a room the size of many American kitchens the owner of this classic bar has assembled one of the largest whisky collections in Israel. But don’t forget about the beer! 15 taps, all pouring Israeli craft beers, the lines well maintained, the beer served to perfection, the pints filled to your heart’s content. My only complaint? Even there, at Jerusalem’s beer mecca, there was not a Dancing Camel to be found.
Just one more reason to come back to Israel soon! Cheers, or should I say l’chayyim!