Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

October 11, 2006

Beer Diary:

Chutzpah or Beer?

Checking out a Kosher microbrew.
by Jill Jaracz

Jill Jaracz is not a fruit, but she loves a good fruit beer. And wheats and wits. Catch her other writing at The Diva Platform, Prevention Magazine's Buzz Blogs, and Gapers Block.
Contact Jill»
Oy. You?ve survived another year of High Holy Days with Aunt Esther pinching your cheek and threatening to take you to the yenta because it?s about time you settled down with a nice Jewish girl. You could really use a cold one, but you?ve resolved to keep kosher and you never know what unclean things are lurking in your average craft beer.

Lucky for you, Shmaltz Brewing Company has come through with just what a kosher-keeping Jew like yourself needs to take the edge off: a line of microbrewed ales called HE?BREW that are kosher certified and rabbi approved. But how does it stack up against the Gentile product?

I took HE?BREW?s two main offerings, Genesis Brown Ale and Messiah Bold, to some Chosen Ones (Gil, Greg, and Joanne) to see if kosher beer lived up to its promise. The packaging showed promise as to what was inside, including a shout-out to Passover with each beer answering the question, ?Why is this beer different from all other beers??

Shmaltz describes the Genesis Ale as a ?smooth and distinctive light brown ale.? My crew and I found it to be quite tasty. It?s got a nice nutty-brown appearance, has a flavor similar to a Sam Adams. No hoppy aftertaste makes it go down smooth. Gil said he also really enjoyed drinking it. Greg thought it was good. Joanne thought it went down really easy with a full flavor that didn?t have a bitter aftertaste.

Our opinions changed with the opening of the Messiah Bold, HE?BREW?s dark brown ale. Shmaltz claims ?it?s the beer you?ve been waiting for,? but most of our group came to the conclusion that the messiah of beers had not yet come. Although a nice dark color, I found it to be quite watery, and Gil agreed that it was weak and didn?t have as a rich of a taste as was promised. In fact, he said, ?This is a waste of a beer.? Joanne said the Genesis was 100% better than the Messiah. Greg said that although he thought it was good, he thought they should just make it 15% alcohol and forget about the taste. I guess if you?re going to create the messiah of beers, you need to go big or go home.

Overall, HE?BREW changes your mind about the possibility of kosher microbrew. They?ve done a good job with perfecting a light brown ale in the Genesis, but their dark ale Messiah needs a little help. So, my kosher friends, when you need to kick back and relax, grab a refreshing Genesis Ale and drink to life. L?Chaim!

Today is the feast day of St. Arnold, patron saint of beer.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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