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In 2009, David Itzkowitz, Andrew Septimus, Allan Farago, Ari Smith and Rabbi Harry Rozenberg teamed up to form a gypsy brewery — a brewery that invents recipes, but makes them using another company’s facilities. Or rather, Itzkowitz and Co. didn’t invent the recipes, but borrowed them, mostly from our ancestors. Their company, Lost Tribes Beverage, takes long-gone or little known recipes and revives them. They aren’t the first brewery to bring beer back from the dead — Dogfish Head produces the Ancient Ales series, which includes Midas Touch, based on molecular evidence found in a Turkish tomb, as well as Chateau Jiahu, Theobrama, Ta Henket, Birra Etrusca Bronze and Sah’Tea — or even the first brewery with a Jewish theme — see Shmaltz Brewing, makers of He’Brew — but Lost Tribes is the first brewery to revive ancient recipes that also focuses on Jewish history. Recently, we tried one of their most interesting creations: Tej. It’s not a beer per se, but more of a honey wine, and we found that it tastes like mead — surprising, as it doesn’t come from the Hall of Valhalla or Sessrúmnir but Ethiopia, where locals make it from wildflower honey and bitter root called gesho. Until now, it’s been one of those things like Couronne, the Haitian bubblegum flavored soda, or Goombay Punch, the cheerfully titled Bahamian fruit punch, that you try “when-in-Rome”… or Haiti, or the Bahamas, or Ethiopia, or wherever you happen to be. But Lost Tribes hopes to bring the ancient drink to the mainstream American market. They offer growler fills of Tej at several NYC bars, including Dive Bar on the Upper West Side and The Ginger Man in Midtown East, as well as bottles at a growing number of locations, and their Facebook page offers daily updates about new locations and developments. Within minutes of tasting, we felt the effects of the extremely pale drink’s powerful 14 percent ABV. The booziness caught us off guard, as the pleasant, almost Manischewitz-like sweetness masks the alcohol. We also got hints of spice — anise? heather? — though honey dominated the palate. Due to its sweetness, we recommend pairing it with dessert. It feels oddly comforting to drink something that your ancestors may have been sipping two thousand years ago, and the novelty gets bolstered by the fact that Tej tastes good. Even if your ancestors never drank the stuff, it’s still cool to get buzzed on something with history. http://gearpatrol.com/2014/05/09/tasting-notes-lost-tribes-brewery/ .
At a recent event hosted by Cashcats.biz and Tumblr, hip New York Internet types milled around in a DUMBO loft space plastered with photos and sculptures of house cats bathing in cash. A DJ booth blasted hip hop from the early aughts as well-dressed girls with Tumblrs mugged for the photobooth camera like it was their first high school prom. Towards the back of the party, a table was set up where men wearing yarmulkes were exchanging drink tickets for paper cups of beer. At one point the line for drinks, full of plaid-shirted programmers and slight women in glasses, stretched and looped all the way around the room–much to the chagrin of the understaffed bartenders. These beer-wielding men of faith hail from the local New York brewing company Lost Tribes and have become a staple at startup events around the city. In addition to working with Forced Meme Productions and Cashcats, Lost Tribes also provides beer to startups like Plyfe and Tumblr. The brewery is also in the process of setting up deals with WeWork and GroupMe to serve beer at some of their events. Think of them as the evening version of that other startup perk, Joyride Coffee. As NYU grad David Itzkowitz tells it, the idea for Lost Tribes was planted back in 2009 when three of the business partners went on a research and development trip to Israel in search of native hops. While checking out the microbreweries in the area, the crew became acquainted with people who hail from lost tribes in regions in Ethiopia and India. Now living in Israel, they were looking for a way to protect their culture. “They told us their tales and their stories, and they both had this tasty homebrew–neither of which was produced commercially,” Mr. Itzkowitz told Betabeat by phone. “On top of that, they were concerned that their children and grandchildren didn’t know about their cultural heritage or the beverages, the food and the products that were grown and went into everyday life. These beverages kind of embodied that.” Mr. Itzkowitz and his partners brought the brews from the lost tribes back to the U.S., paralleled them with their own pale ale and pilsner, and sold them to professional wine, sake and beer makers. “We partnered up with that on a social and charitable level,” he said. “They taught us the recipes in their kitchen in those little towns in Israel. We brought it back here along with an agreement that we’d give a percentage of proceeds for each recipe back to the community.” Lost Tribes’ business is multi-pronged. They brew their own beer, but also brew recipes from lost tribes. They also founded a nonprofit organization that helps lost tribes from all around the world meet and discuss their cultural heritage online. Through their boutique online theological institute, which is licensed to feed students into thousands of accredited colleges, they began meeting professors and religious leaders who knew a lot about the lost tribes. At the same time, people from tribes all over the world began reaching out to them, hoping the men behind Lost Tribes could help educate them on their past. “We realized there was this big gap here of academics who had the information and people who were searching for the information, but they weren’t connecting,” explained Mr. Itzkowitz. “So we started something–which is under construction now–called the iTribe. iTribe is going to be a social media platform where we can supply content from these professors and scholars, as well as allow individuals in second and third world countries with whatever limited Internet access they have to log in and interact with other people in other countries. They can upload content of their own–stories, images, family traditions–and it can be a space where people can learn about each other.” The founders’ interest in technology isn’t just relegated to their startup clientele, they know how to code and are building the site themselves. “We realized we wanted to sell great, quality tasting beverages, and we wanted to help make the world a better place,” he added. At a dinner party, the Lost Tribes team was introduced to some of the people who work at Tumblr, and soon after they began providing the beverages for Tumblr’s monthly meetings and beer pong tournaments it hosts with other startups around the city, like Vimeo and CollegeHumor. Mr. Itzkowitz said that they would provide the “beer and energy” to the events. “We’ll do events where we’ll charge for the keg, we’ll serve the Tej [a special brew] for free and a lot of times they’ll purchase some product and then we honor a buy x get x times 2 for free,” Mr. Itzkowitz said. “In the tech scene, people appreciate good craft beer and other beverages,” he added. As for the future, Lost Tribes is considering setting up an official beer pong league for startups. Better start practicing. Read more at http://betabeat.com/2012/10/lost-tribes-brew-helps-silicon-alley-startups-hit-the-ballmer-peak/#ixzz34pQHSCzI Follow us: @betabeat on Twitter | betabeatNYO on Facebook
New York Daily News
Like many young New Yorkers, 26-year-old David Itzkowitz likes to share stories, especially over a good micro-brew or two. Nowadays, he does it with a beer that he helped create. In 2009, Itzkowitz, a Queens native, and four business partners — Ari Smith, Rabbi Harry Rozenberg, Andrew Septimus and Allan Farago — founded Lost Tribes Beverage, a beer company that uses home brew recipes from the ancient lost tribes of Israel. As the founders intended, the history behind the brand is “a conversation starter,” says Itzkowitz, who is Jewish. Farago chimes in, “When you read the motto ‘Wandering Since 722 BCE,’ people start thinking.” The company’s name comes from the 10 of 12 groups that were exiled from Israel more than 2,700 years ago. They scattered throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe and “legend has it that one day the tribes will return home bearing gifts from their lands,” states the Lost Tribes website. “From there, it was like, ‘Wow, we're not just selling beverages,’” says Farago. Three of the partners met with community leaders from the lost tribes of India and Ethiopia during a research trip in 2009. Both sides wanted to preserve these one-of-a-kind home brew recipes before they vanished. With the guidance of an Ethiopian “tej-master” in the West Bank, Lost Tribes’ professional brewmaster concocted a sweet tej, a gluten-free brew fermented with honey and spicy gesho herbs. A percentage of earnings is given back to the community from which the brew recipes come. “We need the recipe owner’s blessing to come to market with the brews,” explains Farago. For a company that values history and diversity, New York is the perfect multicultural focal point to disseminate Lost Tribes’ biblical beginnings. “People like to know the stories behind the brews,” says Carl McCoy, who sells the popular beer at his Williamsburg restaurant Gwynnett St. “And Lost Tribes has a good story.” At the bar with a bottle in hand, Itzkowitz savors a big swig. “They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.” And, beer after beer, Lost Tribes is off to a good start with more than 75 accounts in the metro area. “I’m trying to run a business to be profitable and sustainable in my life but also carrying these people on my shoulders every day,” says the NYU grad. Having the name on a bottle isn’t enough, so Lost Tribes is launching a parallel mission by building iTribe, a social platform aimed at connecting lost tribes descendants from around the world. “We have to work together to have a brighter future,” says Itzkowitz. “All the while, let’s have a good beer along the way.” Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/new-yorkers-find-success-lost-tribes-beer-article-1.1190689#ixzz34pS1nI3l