Bold Mission, Bland Flavor: Israeli Microbrewery Uses Gaza Border Wheat for New Beer

Sales from Alexander beer's limited-edition 'Gaza Border Beer' will go to support farmers living in border communities, whose fields suffered from this summer's clashes. The taste was less exciting

Wheat fields near Israel's border with Gaza.
Moshe Filberg

Israeli microbrewery Alexander Beer launched last week a limited-edition “Gaza Border Beer” in order to support Israeli farmers living in border communities.

Most of Israel’s home-grown wheat comes from that area, and Alexander normally uses wheat grown on the border for its beer, but given the clashes with Gaza over the summer, which are estimated to have burned down 15 percent of the fields, the brewery decided to launch a special addition and to donate the proceeds to farmers.

“Every farmer waits for the harvest. Once a year we are able to see the results of our Sisyphean work and there’s no greater pain or frustration than seeing our work wiped out in a second,” Reuven Nir, who is in charge of field crops at Kibbutz Mefalsim and Kfar Aza, says.

Farmers sow some 45,000 dunams (about 11,100 acres) of wheat in the region yearly and harvest about 175,000 tons of wheat, which goes mainly to make different kinds of flour. A good many of the communities on the Gaza border still make their living farming, particularly raising wheat.

“Beer is a drink that begins in the field, with barley and wheat. From the start we chose to work only with Israeli wheat from fields in the south as one of our flagship ingredients,” Ori Sagi, Alexander’s founder and CEO, says. “I myself grew up farming and the connection to the fields is a part of me, and so I certainly can’t stand idly by at the sight of the fields burning. It’s both a great wheat beer and some small help to our friends the farmers in the south who are going through tough times,” Sagi says.

Alexander Beer's limited-edition bottle.
Menachem Reiss

Sadly, the beer itself is disappointing. One would hope that a limited-edition beer would have a unique character, different from the regular beer we drink year round from this brewery. That, they didn’t do.

Tasting the beer, the feeling is that it’s quite identical to the regular wheat beer (5 percent alcohol content). We tasted the light beer, which had a frothy, refreshing head, hoppy and tasty, dry and clean. Tasters pronounced it thirst-quenching and good for a hot summer’s day. Those who dared throw a plump orange segment in enjoyed it even more, although this whole venture, which can't escape a strong smell of a marketing ploy, leaves a bitter aftertaste.

The new beer can be purchased on the brewery’s website, at Shufersal, bars and restaurants throughout Israel. You’ll recognize it from its half-blue, half gold label.