PHILADELPHIA, April 5, 2012 - As Easter approaches, Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier (or Lent beer) from Germany’s Brauerei Heller-Trum would be a perfectly fitting beer to enjoy during this last week of Lenten season.
However, with Passover looming as well, it would be much more fun to discuss, not to mention, drink, beer from the much more accessible (in the States, at least) Shmaltz Brewing Company line of beers. If Shmaltz does not sound familiar, perhaps the brand and slogan under which they market their beers will: He’Brew, “The Chosen Beer.”
Genesis Ale. Messiah Bold. Lenny Bruce RIPA. Jewbelation. Jewbelation 5766. 40 Days and 40 Nights. Miraculous Jewbelation. Monumental Jewbelation. Rejewvenator. Pastrami on Rye.
Next, along comes Funky Jewbelation, the most recent entry in the brewery’s barrel-aged program. A press release just last week announcing the arrival of this beer proclaimed it “unique and sophisticated; can stand with the world’s best specialty beverages.” This beer features six standout beers from He’brew each aged in whiskey and bourbon barrels.
You get the point. These are just some of the Jewish-inspired beer names in the Shmaltz/He’brew portfolio. Irreverant? Perhaps a scoche. Disrespectful? Not a bit. Fun? For sure.
Jeremy Cowan founded the brewery in San Francisco in 1996 to create a “celebration of Jewish culture and tradition in a meaningful way” through the beer’s ingredients and packaging. The beer and brewing operations are kosher-certified and have since been moved to New York and continued for nearly the past ten years to now include the Coney Island line of beers as well.
So if the beer is kosher, why can’t it be part of the Passover seder table? With assistance here credited to Minutes With Messiah, for seven days as part of the observance of Passover, leavened grain products such as bread are not permitted in the household. Grain alcohols like beer and whiskey are also prohibited. Wine, which is fermented, is able to be used at Passover. It is not made from a grain, so it does not fall under the prohibition against leaven.
But while beer will not be found on the kosher Passover seder table, that should not stop you from enjoying any of the following kosher beers the other 358 days of the year with some traditional Passover foods. Yes. Put the Manischewitz aside and make way for some Shmaltz.
First up, how about Matzah Ball Soup? Try the Genesis Ale (5.6% ABV), a crisp and easy-drinking ale with a solid malt backbone that matches up well with the matzah and a noticeable, but not overwhelming, herbaceous hop bitterness to pair well with the chicken fat, broth, vegetables, and herbs. If you appreciate a bit more hop aroma and you can find it on retail shelves, give the Genesis Dry-Hopped Ale (5.2% ABV) a try.
Brisket? At this point of the meal, you do not want to suffer from palate fatigue, so you will probably want to save the higher alcohol beer for dessert. With a nice brisket, the He’brew Messiah Nut Brown Ale would go nicely and, at 5.5% ABV, will get you to the dessert course in one piece.
However, you say you want to throw caution to the wind? You say a big, bold piece of brisket deserves a big beer? Then, by all means, crack open a He’brew Lenny’s Bittersweet R.I.P.A. and enjoy one of the finest beers to balance out the big hops, malt, and alcohol (10% ABV) to match up against the big flavors in a piece of brisket.
And for dessert, kugel right? Here is a delicious combination where you can go one of two ways. The sweetness from the fruit and the starch from the noodles will both play their own role in going perfectly with either the hefty He’brew Jewbelation 15 (15 malts, 15 hops, 15% ABV) or the more balanced Origin Pomegranate Ale (an 8% ABV beer drawing sweetness and a touch of tartness from pomegranate juice). Haroset might work well here too, particularly with the Origin beer. Any way you go, the dinner might not be able to come to a more satisfying close.
The good news is that these beers are readily available in thirty states across the country and at large retailers such as Beverages & More, Whole Foods, Total Wine, Kroger, and Cost Plus.
Above all, remember: Beer is fun, beer is complex and interesting, and in Shmaltz’s words as they are “Celebrating 15 years of delicious beer & delicious shtick… L’Chaim!” And, Chag Sameach.
Read more of Bryan’s work at After Hours in the Communities at Washington Times.
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