Dress British Drink Yiddish: HE'BREW Beer

I have been focused on liquors, but some of you are beer drinkers, so let's talk about beer. After all, when you go into an Irish pub, you could buy whiskey, if you like, but there is also a selection of Irish beers to choose from, and even a specifically Irish mix of beers, generally Guinness and Harp, where the beers are layered one atop the other. (If I can put on my Irish-American cap for a moment, don't call this a black and tan in an Irish bar, as the Black and Tans were a violent temporary police force established to suppress the Irish War of Independence; call the drink a half and half instead.)

So if we are to have a Jewish bar, even in our own imaginations, we must have beer. Fortunately, not only is there a Jewish beer, but it is a very good one: HE'BREW Beer from the Shmaltz Brewing Company of Clifton Park, New York. The drink originated in 1996, when a group of homebrewers in San Francisco made a pomegranite ale, and, for many years, the beer was contract-brewed at established breweries and hand delivered in the Bay Area. Three years ago the company opened its own brewery, and has expanding its distribution considerably. I don't know if I could get it here in Omaha, but it was easy to locate bottles of their Hop Manna IPA last time I was in Minneapolis.

There are a lot of beer lines out out by HE'BREW, including their original pomegranate ale, and they are generally well-reviewed. Additionally, their names typically reference something explicitly Jewish, such as a double rye IPA called Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A, named after comedian Lenny Bruce, and a sour brown ale called Funky Jewbelation; some of these are released in limited series, so if you see a HE'BREW beer you haven't seen before, grab it; it may not be around long.

The IPA I bought had a very thick head, the sort of thing where you pour just a little beer and it starts to foam over so you leave it alone for a little while and then come back and pour just a bit more and then the foam rises and threatens to spill and so you go away again for a while. The beer was bitter, as an IPA should be, and citrusy, with a strong malt flavor, and if I try to describe it further I'll just start babbling nonsense: It's musty with an apple finish and the insouciance of an electric candle.

I tossed a shot glass of bourbon into a glass of the IPA to try the stuff as a boilermaker, which is always a bit risky, as whiskey and beers don't always go well together, but this was perfectly pleasant. I suspect the IPA would make an enjoyable shandy mixed with lemonade, but I drink so much lemonade so quickly that's it's never around when I have beer.

Perhaps a better beer cocktail to make with HE'BREW would be something called a Czech Sour, whose roots, like HE'BREWS are both San Francisco and Eastern Europe. The cocktail comes from the Bay Area's Burritt Room and is inspired by Czechoslovakian drinks, and combines Becherovka herbal liqueur with grapefruit bitters, gum arabic, lime, and a pale ale (HE'BREW had a limited pale, but you might have to sub in one of their IPAs), and then topped with cinnamon.

You could probably also layer their nut brown ale with an IPA for a half and half, but I feel like the resulting drink deserves a Jewish name. Um, let's call it the Samuel Goodman, after the Jewish rugby coach who led the American team to gold medals at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics.

Why? Because a traditional rugby ball is black and tan.