Thursday, November 29, 2018

Chanuka Beer Shopping Guide


When you walk into your local beer shop, chances are you are overwhelmed by the amount of choices confronting you. The aisle seems to be an endless wall of beer. Inundated by choices you end up choosing that which is familiar to you.
Photo Courtesy of TA
Sometimes you take the time to look at some of the other interesting looking brews, but then you realize that you have no idea if that particular beer is kosher or not, so again you stick with the familiar.
While I can't help you shop completely, after reading this, I hope you will have some new brews to watch out for.
Photo Courtesy of TA
With Chanukah approaching I have to include Shmaltz Brewing Hanukah beer. Shmaltz is located in Upstate New York and is had been brewing shticky brews for over 20 years. While not all their beers are kosher certified, almost all are by the KSA. This particular beer is brewed with chocolate which would definitely require a Hechsher, but the KSA has you covered. This beer should be a staple at every Chanukah party!


Photo Courtesy of TA
Another chocolate beer to look out for is Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. This is a 10% ABV Imperial Stout and is not for the faint of heart.  The unique thing about this beer is that there isn't actually chocolate in it.  Rather, all the flavor is from the specialty malts used. BCS is kosher certified by the Va'ad of Detroit. You might ask if there is no chocolate why is it necessary too have kosher certification? This is a great question, and the answer is that you don't! However, with the use of chocolate on the label you can't lose by having a reliable Hechsher on it. 
Photo Courtesy of Boulevard.com 

Another beer to look out for if you are lucky enough to be in it's distributing footprint (not all craft beers are distributed to all states, be sure to ask your local retailer) is Boulevard Tart Apple Radler. Boulevard is probably the most versatile kosher certified brewery.  They produce high octane beers for certified beer geeks, and introductory craft beers to those used to more lighter beers. Tart Apple Radler is one of the latter. Using a  lighter malt base,  the addition of the apples make for this one quaffable drink. Tart Apple Radler is certified under the Va'ad of KC. Certification is necessary as the apples make this a  flavored beer.
Photo Courtesy of Leikam Brewery
If you are lucky enough to live in Oregon, then you get your hands on this chanuka beer from Leikam Brewery. Maccabeer IPA is a winter IPA and is perfect for cutting through the oil of the latkes and doughnuts.
This brew is certified kosher by the Oregon-K.

I hope this makes your Chanukah beer shopping a more enjoyable experience.



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Friday, November 2, 2018

Samuel Adams 2018 Winter Variety Pack

With winter creeping up on us early this year, the Boston Beer Company has released their new seasonal variety pack. The 2018 version is called Winter Classics and surprisingly has no new beers and includes another flagship besides Boston Lager.
Photo Credit Origlio.com

With the exception of one beer all are on the Star-K's LOC.


The following was copied and pasted from an email received from the Star-K. (some grammatical changes were made)
* Chocolate Bock has lactose. It is a milk sugar and is added cold. Lactose is derived from whey when it is split into whey protein concentrate and lactose.  It has a hechsher. We consider it dairy.*

In conclusion 5 out of the 6 beers are Star-K Certified Parve, with the last one Star-K certified Dairy.



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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Boulevard Kosher Beer List

The Va'ad of KC and Boulevard Brewing have released an updated list of Kosher-certified beers. This is exciting news as Boulevard is arguably the most exciting and interesting Kosher brewery. Below is the list of the beers:
Pale Ale
Irish Ale
Nutcracker Ale
Tropical Pale Ale
Unfiltered Wheat Beer
KC Pils
80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer
Unfiltered IPA
Single-Wide IPA
Hibiscus Gose
Tequila Barrel Lime Gose
Bully! Porter
Snow & Tell
American Kolsch
Berliner Weisse
Tart Apple Radler
Ginger Lemon Radler
¡Vamos! Mexican-Style Lager
Flora Obscura
ZON Belgian-Style Witbier
Heavy-Lifting IPA
Jam Band Berry Ale
Bob’s ’47 Oktoberfest
Bourbon Barrel Quad
Changeling Dark Sour Ale
Dark Truth Stout
Grand Cru
Rye On Rye Ale
Rye On Rye On Rye Ale
Saison-Brett
Space Camper IPA
Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
The Calling IPA
The Sixth Glass
Whiskey Barrel Stout



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Friday, September 21, 2018

Homebrew Review: Coffee Stout

A few months ago I reviewed a friend's homebrewed beer on these pages (you can view it here). I was very enthusiastic about his first homebrew attempt, and was looking forward to his next brew. Well guess what? He outdid himself. This time his brew is beyond professional grade quality.
The beer he brewed is a coffee stout, which is an American Stout with the coffee added during the boil. Please see the review below.

The beer pours a dark brown, with thin brown head that quickly fizzles out, the beer is very fizzy looking though. Aromas of caramel, dark fruit, chocolate, bourbon, and coffee. The taste is of a nice medium roast coffee, with serious dark fruit but plenty of coffee as well. Strong vanilla notes on the finish. It drinks super smooth with right amount of carbonation. No alcohol feel, although you can tell it's there.
Overall this is just an amazing beer, that I would be glad to shell over a few bucks for this.



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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Samuel Adams 2018 Fall Variety Pack

With Fall just around the corner, the Boston Beer Company has released their new seasonal variety pack. The 2018 version is called Beers of Fall, and has the classic mainstays along with two new beers.



Photo Credit Origlio.com



There are actually three repeats from last year, while the other three are different, with two being brand new and the last one making a reappearance. 
Before we get to the beers, a little heads up about the Kashrus info. 
As was the case for the Summer Variety Pack, the Star-K has updated their LOC to include current beers. Therefore all the information on this season's pack is on the current LOC.



  • Boston Lager (Star-K certified)
  • Octoberfest (Star-K certified)
  • Black Lager (Star-K certified)
  • Pumpkin Ale  (Star-K certified)
  • Spruce Lager (Star-K certified)
  • Coffee Pale Ale (Star-K certified)



In conclusion, this makes the entire pack kosher certified. 

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Friday, August 10, 2018

What Makes Beer Kosher? Part II

In part I we discussed the basics of how beer is made, and why in didn't pose a problem kashrus-wise.
However starting in the mid 1980's there came a new phenomenon known as microbreweries. These microbreweries wanted to bring full flavored beer back to America, and that they did. What started as a small movement has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and increasing competition to big beer.
Along with full flavored beer, came along experimentation. Breweries started experimenting with fruit purees and extracts, spices, and all sort of other ingredients. This practice alone, is enough to warrant Kosher Certification on beer, as almost all breweries have some sort of flavored brew in their rotation. However, what the Kashrus Agencies did was say that all unflavored beers are recommended, but flavored beers shouldn't be consumef without reliable certification. 
Then came the likes of Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewing (Click here to see my full post on why Dogfish Head is not recommended.), based in Delaware. Sam and other brewers weren't content with putting in some fruit or spices in the brew kettle. They started throwing in oysters, lobsters, clams, and of course pork. Obviously, this created a big problem.
To be continued....

Coming in next installment. How the Kashrus Agencies responded, once this became known.


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Thursday, August 9, 2018

What Makes Beer Kosher? Part I

One of the questions I most commonly get is, what makes beer kosher?
First a short introduction on kosher food in general. There is a common misconception that to become kosher, food needs to be blessed by a Rabbi. This can't be farther than the truth. Rather, a kosher certified product tells the consumer that a Rabbi (known as a Mashgiach) oversaw the production of said product, and is in compliance with the complex laws of kosher. Which basically entails making sure no non-kosher ingredients are used in production of the product. Or, and maybe more important to our question of beer, no non-kosher ingredients are used on the production line.
With that introduction we can move on to beer. Beer in it's most basic form is made from four main ingredients. They are water, malted barley, hops, and yeast. The leading Kashrus Agencies in America have come out and said that these four ingredients in and of themselves are kosher even without supervision. Therefore, for a long time most assumed all beer to be considered kosher even without certification. What many people do not know, is that the large breweries also known as macro breweries, substitute other ingredients in place of malted barley. Commonly known as adjuncts, they usually use rice or corn, to lighten the beer and therefore it also make it less flavorful. These ingredients as well, were considered reccomended by the Kashrus Agencies.
At this point all large breweries' (non-flavored) beer are considered recommended.
Then came the microbreweries.
To be continued....

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Beer Review: Uinta Piggy Back Peach IPA

Back when I first started the blog, I had no idea in which direction it would go. I figured it'll be a learning process. Guess what? It still is. I especially appreciate all the feedback that you wonderful readers give me! So back in the beginning, I wrote a couple of posts called New Beer Watch, thinking it would become a regular feature on the blog. While I did post a few of those, it has basically gone by the way side. Well, one of the first was, Uinta Brewing Piggy Back Peach IPA, and last week I came across that beer for the first time! Please see my review below.
The beer pours an ever so slightly hazy gold with two finger thick cream colored head, that has amazing retention and stays until the bottom of the glass. The first sniff is pine, but after that it's peach all the way through. The taste begins with lightly toasted malt, followed by peach, that leads into a nice piney finish. The feel is light but not watery,with a touch of creaminess as well. Overall this is a pleasant surprise, while obviously this beer is very peachy. Uinta managed to make this a balanced brew, with the pine standing out in a nice way.

*Piggy Back Peach IPA is under the supervision of the OU*

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Sunday, August 5, 2018

Beer Review: Bira 91 IPA

Way back in March I wrote a post about a new Kosher-certified brewery, ( you can view it here ). The brewery is called Bira 91, and is based out of New Delhi, India. Well, recently I came across some of their beers, and bought one. The one I chose is their take on the classic English IPA.
When I looked at the bottle, I was surprised to see on the label "Imagined in India", but brewed in Utica, NY (presumably at the FX Matt facility). So it is an Indian brand, but in theory only. Below is my review:
Photo Credit TA

It pours clear dark gold into the glass, with super thin white head that quickly dissipates. The aroma that follows is caramel, pine, and tangerine citrus. The taste is a mellow fruitiness that follows into a bitter dry finish. The feel is a
Light-to-Medium-bodied, with average carbonation. Overall this was interesting as it had this mellow flavor that I couldn't place, it wasn't overly malty or 'stale', but different.

*BIRA 91 IPA is under the supervision of the OU*

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Kosher Homebrew Review #2: American Wheat Ale

As a unique addition to the blog, I have added reviews of friends homebrewed beer. This is the second review, you can view the first one here. This is a different 'brewer' than the first one,and this is his second batch.
It is always great when you have friends that are enthusiastic about drinking and brewing beer. When he proudly gave me a bottle, he requested that I review it. I am glad that I can now share it with you as well.
I excitedly pour the beer into a glass, it appears burnt orange/light brown in color, with a nice off-white head that slowly recedes. It gives off bread & yeast aromas, along with orange marmalade, and citrus. It tastes of a fresh baked yeast cake with a layer of orange jam, and goes down in a beautiful citrus-y finish. The feel is light-bodied & slightly watery, with average carbonation. Overall a well done homebrewed beer, that tastes a lot like a Belgian Wheat, although the actual attempted style was American Wheat. 

I would like to thank this aspiring brewer, for giving me the opportunity to review his beer. I would like to wish him much luck on his upcoming batches!



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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sam Adams 2018 Summer Variety Pack: American Summer


With Summer hopefully just around the corner, the Boston Beer Company has released their new seasonal variety pack. The 2018 version is again called American Summer, and has the standard classics along with some new beers.
AmericanSummer_VPCallout
(photo courtesy of Samuel Adams.com)

As was the case for the Spring Variety Pack the Star-K has updated their LOC to include current beers. Therefore all the information on this season's pack is on the current LOC.

  • Boston Lager (Star-K Certified) 
  • Summer Ale (Star-K Certified) 
  • Raspberry Lemon Gose (Star-K Certified)
  • Golden Ale (Star-K Certified)
  • Hefeweizen (Star-K Certified)
  • Pale Ale (Star-K Certified)

This indicates that the Sam Adams 2018 Summer Variety Pack is entirely Kosher-Certified. This is the first time since 2015 that all the beers of the Summer Pack are Kosher-Certified.
BeersOfSummer_VPCallout
(photo courtesy of Samuel Adams.com)
Sam Adams has also released their Beers of Summer Variety Pack, which includes three entirely different beers, all in cans. Two out of the three are on the current LOC (Feb. 20, 2018) with the third only having info available on the can.
  • Sam '76 (Star-K on can)
  • Hoppy Wheat Ale (Star-K Certified)
  • Porch Rocker (Star-K Certified).
The Beers of Summer 2018 Pack is also Kosher-Certified.


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