Jem’s, a brewpub in Israel

To turn a brewing passion into a brewing business, the solution could be a brewpub. In fact they’ve become a real phenomenon, that originated in England and spread in the 90s. While the market could soon reach saturation in some major US cities, and even in some European urban areas, there is still room elsewhere. In the Middle East, one can easily imagine, there’s plenty of room…

I recently visited Jem’s, located in Petah Tiqwa, the third most populous city in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area. Jem’s is a brewpub nestled in a highly improbable place, in an industrial sector (Kiryat Matalon High Tech Park). If you’re not local, it’s the kind of thing you don’t run across easily.

This brewpub was launched by three Americans — Jeremy (“Jem”) Welfeld, the brew-master, Daniel Alon, and David Cohen. So the mood is resolutely US, relaxed and comfortable.

But… You can’t just snap your fingers and make good craft beers overnight. All four of us Belgian beer lovers came away disappointed after tasting six different types of beers brewed on site. Sorry, guys — and this is only my personal opinion —, but I’ve tasted much better achievements in the country (see, for example, this Basalt Amber Ale).

The 5% Stout (nice finish) and the 5%-ABV Dark Lager (solid mouth-feel) stand out, and the 5%-ABV Wheat refreshed us, but we all had the general impression of “more buzz than fuzz.” For instance, the Wheat, touted as being Bavarian-style (only in Hebrew), is rather distant from a hefeweizen and much closer to a Hoegaarden White — unpasteurized and unfiltered, ok, that’s great, but a little more depth in flavour and a bit more carbonation would help.

The real good reason for coming to Jem’s is the atmosphere. The staff was friendly, the food portions were big, and there was a good vibe with good music. The whole thing was fun. It’s an excellent place to party so long as beer lovers aren’t too demanding and just want an enjoyable time. It takes all kinds to make a world of craft beers, and that’s the way it must be.