Not Kosher For Passover

Not endorsed by Jewish Cardiologists.  Unholy Hand Grenades cooked in Stone Smoked Porter

Not endorsed by Jewish Cardiologists. Unholy Hand Grenades cooked in Stone Smoked Porter

I said it wasn’t Kosher for Passover, didn’t I?

Hello, my name is The Alemonger and I’m an irreverence addict.

Group response: “welcome, The Alemonger.  You have a great name.  Actually, it’s ridiculous but we’re supposed to make newcomers feel welcomed and comfortable so we say things we don’t really mean.  And we say them in unison.”

So what’s an irreverent Jew to do on Passover? Posting a picture of my Unholy Hand Grenades seemed a bit less problematic than actually making them for tonight’s Seder.  The heathens are coming over for the second Seder tomorrow night so I’ll wait 24 hours.  The extra day won’t kill me.  Better not, because if I go before I hit the reset button next Yom Kippur I’ve got less of chance of getting to Heaven than FGCU has of getting to the Final Four.  Hmm… Then again, maybe my chances are a bit better than I suspect.  For the record, an unnamed brother specifically asked me to make Unholy Hand Grenades (matzo balls cooked in Stone Smoked Porter and wrapped in bacon) for tonight’s Seder but I declined.

What's that smell??

SHOW US YOUR FINS!!

I also declined – no, refused – to serve Gefilte Fish.  That oily conglomerate of congealed “fish” loaf is possessed of a highly toxic and fetid stench.  No wonder we aren’t making enough Jewish babies.  The contact odor alone is enough to defeat even the most amorous of intentions.  And another thing: where are its fins? Yeah, yeah, yeah (not The Beatles version), straight to Hell.  I know.

What’s a Passover Seder without a traditional brisket and recitation of the 10 Plagues? Over the past several years it occurred to me that both the brisket and the plagues needed a little spicing up – one literally.  As for the plagues, well, let’s face it, they need a serious overhaul.  It is 5773 after all and frogs just aren’t all that relevant a plague these days.  More on that later.  Back to the brisket…

I didn’t exactly grow up in a house of cooks and I’ve yet to watch a real live Bubbie prepare a traditional brisket so I walk into the valley of stainless steel Vikings already lead by temptations no self-respecting Jewish cook would entertain.  I’m not out to win this season’s Food Network Top Chef so I’ll spare you the full recipe.  Suffice it to say that it’ll get my Rabbi’s attention – and not in a good way.  Mind you, I did use a healthy amount of Israeli cumin in the dry rub but the fact alone that I used dry rub at all is strike one.  Strike two is the coffee.  Howard Schultz, Starbucks President himself, wouldn’t even carve a brisket rubbed with their own Ethiopian Sidamo (neither will I – I used Peet’s Major Dickason’s but that’s besides the point).

I go down swinging with strike three by using Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout in my braising base.  You knew craft beer had to make an appearance somewhere.  Oddly (though not at all for anyone who knows me), I’ll use beer in the recipe but I won’t actually drink it at the Passover table.  Life is full of gerrymandered lines, rationalizations, and uncommon sense.  Remains to be seen if the line between beer and the Passover table will extend to the couch later in the evening.  In any event, I figure that actually cooking the brisket in beer – even a world class stout from America’s Torah Belt – is enough all by itself to assure me a long wait for that ferry across the Styx.  Maybe I can bribe Charon with a fresh Sculpin or two to show up a little early.

About those plagues…

I get it.  Back in the days when Charlton Heston’s ancestor was President of the NSA and defying Pharoah to take his slingshot from his cold dead hand, boils and frogs were probably legitimate plague-worthy inflictions.  Not so much anymore.  Slaying of the first born would still qualify as a top ten plague today but seems to me a bit extreme these days so let’s bench that one for a while.  The time has come to refresh the plagues.  Make them relevant again.

Thou Shalt Revise Thine Plagues

Thou Shalt Revise Thine Plagues

I propose we dip our pinky fingers into the Manischewitz for these Ten Plagues we can really get behind:

  1. Dial-up Internet Access
  2. The Honey Boo-Boo and it’s Posse
  3. Obamacare
  4. Bad Chinese Food
  5. The Twilight Werewolf Guy’s Pecs
  6. D List Reality TV (Duck Dynasty & Dancing With the Stars)
  7. Big Beer Pharoahs (ABInbev & MillerCoors)
  8. LiLo
  9. Weak 4G Cellular Coverage
  10. Chick Fil-A Closed on Sundays

Not a perfect list of modern plagues, I know.  I expect I’ll be criticized for leaving standard definition TV off the list but that’s not as egregious as the NCAA Tourney Committee’s giving Oregon a 12 seed.

Here’s to a Happy (and possibly Hoppy) Passover! I’d love to hear your suggestions for irreverent celebrations.  Let me know what you’re doing to stir things up while hiding the Afikoman.

L’Chaim!

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He’Brew Jewbelation Sweet Sixteen – The Tribe Has Spoken

Haven't seen much of Long lately

Long Duck Dong in 16 Candles

I know what you’re thinking (which is even more impressive than it seems because I don’t even have a clue how I’m going to end this sentence).  What is Long Duck Dong doing as a lead photo for a beer review?  Simple.  This isn’t a traditional beer review.  There are plenty of great craft beer review sites and blogs that focus on reviews but this isn’t one of them.  Its not that I don’t like them – I do – and I have plenty of them right here on Ratebeer (go ahead, take a peek but come back for the good stuff).  I’ll get to my impressions of the beer in a bit but there are a few other things about Shmaltz Brewing and The Chosen Beer folks I want to get to before then.

I feel a certain connection to the Shmaltz Brewery.  Their beers are brewed and bottled (some of them) in Brooklyn.  I was brewed and swaddled in Brooklyn.  They moved to California (in partnership with Mendocino Brewing) for a while.  I moved to California for a while.  They’re Jewish – I guess.  I’m Jewish – again (long story – short first marriage).  They’re irreverent.  I have a PhD in Irreverent Communications and Sarcasm.  So its only fitting that I say a few words about HeBrew Jewbelation Sweet Sixteen.

This brew is not your Bubbie’s Manischewitz.  That stuff is fowl.  If you like Manischewitz wines, I don’t want to hear from you.  Your judgment is flawed.  Our people aren’t wine makers.  Not in our skill set.  We’re really good at comedy, running Hollywood studios, swimming, the occasional whopper white collar crime, and endodontics but we don’t have what it takes to make great wine.  Must have something to do with that grape stomping thing – a little too close to manual labor.

So wine making is out but what about brewing craft beer?  Shmaltz has been at it a while with some respectable success.  What’s truly surprising is that they don’t have a physical brewery.  Their beers are brewed under contract through a partnership with Mendocino Brewing.  The Jewbelation Series is their version of anniversary brews and that’s where Sweet Sixteen comes in to play (or out to play).  The concept is simple: celebrating 16 years of brewing by releasing a beer with 16 malt varieties, 16 hop varieties, and coming in at 16% ABV.   Like I said, simple concept.  Simple but screwy.  Right off the bat I’m a little leery of a craft beer that’s tied to a gimmicky theme and this one’s got classic Jewish schtick all over it.  Would anyone notice if they swapped out the Palisade hops for Nelson Sauvin?  I don’t think so.  So the whole 16 malts/16 hops is nonsense (though I’m thrilled they used flaked quinoa – checked that off the craft beer bucket list).

Here’s something that makes more sense in relation to Jewish beer than 16 hop varieties, 16 Jew varieties:

OK, 17 if you count Simon & Garfunkel as 2 but they were Bar Mitzvad together so I’m counting them as 1.  I’m not so sure the 16 malts and 16 hops would safely navigate the Hora, but once that 16% ABV kicks in any of them still spinning would soon need the services of a doctor (fortunately there’ll be plenty to chose from at any Jewish party).

He'Brew Jewbelation Sweet 16

He’Brew Jewbelation Sweet 16

Is it a good beer?  Well… I don’t love it but it does some things right.  It’s an impressive looking brew.  A ribbon of liquid obsidian pours into the glass with just the faintest glints of deep ruby highlights.  It’s got a thin, creamy dark tan head and plenty of thick lacing.  Intense aroma of coffee and bittersweet chocolate with a touch of white pepper that hints at the parting blow to come.  With all those malt and hop varieties I expected the flavors to mimic a combination of Hava Nagila & the Harlem Shake but, surprisingly, they were closer to the Hustle.  And while we’re on the subject of organized dances, here’s why we only attach ourselves to one another and go in circles:

Why we only dance the Hora

Why we only dance the Hora

Anyway, back to the brew.  Pretty straightforward imperial stout profile with robust coffee, cocoa bitterness, dark fruits (plum, cherry, raisin), molasses, and a bit of rye.  The mouthfeel seemed at times chewy yet also a bit thin.  The finish was long and sweet with a parting punch of alcohol – almost bourbony.

So in the end I can’t say I was blown away by the beer but I wasn’t disappointed either.  It has a place.  I’d proudly bring it to my next Shiva call.  After all, it’s a perfect brew for cutting through the somber emotions and horrific fish tray aromas at those things.  Its Big, Bold & Boozy.  In a newly coined and appropriately Jewish word: its “Babsy.”

Would you have preferred a picture of Mandy Patinkin?

Barbra Streisand (Hebrew but NOT a He’Brew celebrity endorser)

L’Chaim!