Lost Tribes Brew Company Restores Ancient Beers from Israel

image lost tribes beers, Israel

Old beers, new drinks.

Fired by the taste of heritage beers, Lost Tribes Brew founders have developed beers and wines that resurrect traditional brews, which they claim  identify some of Israel’s ten lost tribes.

Five childhood friends from New York – Itzkowitz, Allan Farago, Ari Smith, Andrew Septimus and Rabbi Harry Rozenberg – flew to Israel in 2009 seeking fresh ideas for beers to develop in their new microbrewery. There’s plenty of pleasurable research available in the yearly Beer Expo in Tel Aviv,  where microbreweries and established breweries show off their suds to an appreciative public.

In the group’s researches, they came across historical beers which are still being brewed in the modest homes of Ethiopian and Indian immigrants. The brewers, mostly elders, are afraid that the traditional drinks will be neglected, then forgotten in the modern age. The American group was fascinated by these living liquid artifacts and developed beers based on them. So far, their resurrected recipes are a commercial success. (If you’re into DIY historical beer recipes, Karin has the White House honey beers recipes ready for you to try out at home.)

The Lost Tribes beers are Shikra, a pale ale whose recipe includes organic dates from Israel; Tej, a honey-flavored Ethiopian beer that uses Gesho, a native herb, instead of hops, and a low-cal version called Light. Any doubts about the quality or taste of these beers has been settled by Forbes magazine, which listed Lost Tribes as “one of the new cool beers.”

According to the company’s website,

“2,700 years ago, ten of the twelve tribes were sent into exile, eventually settling across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Legend has it that one day the tribes will return home bearing gifts from their lands. We’ve discovered that each tribe holds a unique brew recipe using plants indigenous to their lands . We believe that their brews were the gifts they were meant to bring home.”

The company plans to expand its product line, developing more new brews from ancient sources.

“We got an email last week from someone in Japan who said he was part of a lost tribe and has an incredible Japanese whiskey recipe for us,” Itzkowitz said. “We’ve also heard from Lemba, people from South Africa with a Jewish claim, who have their own brew recipe.”

The company donates a fixed amount of profits to Israeli groups working with Jews from ethnic minorities said to come from the lost tribes. We assume these groups are Ethiopians, who claim roots in the tribe of Dan, and the Bnei Menashe community from India.

Lost Tribes now sells to 75 locations in New York, mostly bars and supermarkets but also by special delivery.

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Miriam also blogs at Israeli Kitchen.

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