Tishrei in October is so vastly superior to Tishrei in September and there’s really no counterargument. With very few exceptions, nobody wants to be sweating through a hot and humid Yom Kippur or sitting in a sukkah during an Indian summer.
I’m so ready for a fall featuring holidays during (hopefully) cool weather that will restore balance to the force to the Jewish calendar after last year when we ushered in 5776 right after Labor Day.
The leap month that we get every few years to realign the calendar with our seasonal holidays has not, alas, caught up with the beer production calendar, as Oktoberfest brews are now routinely on tap in mid-August and I had my first pumpkin beer on September 1 and there appears to be no correction in sight. After all, if Halloween stuff shows up in CVS and Target on August 1, then pumpkin beer is going to be out around the same time. There’s no going back.
As you make plans to host Rosh Hashanah dinners, or have friends over for Sukkot, in the fine tradition of this blog, here are three recommendations for tasty brews that I’d suggest you have in the fridge as you practice the ancient Jewish tradition of hachnasat orchim– welcoming guests.
Drink now -with or without the suggested Rosh Hashanah food pairings- or forever hold your peace. At least until 5778.
#1- Santilli (Night Shift Brewing, Everett, MA)
Everett? Yes. Everett. Home of wind turbines, smokestacks, and a very fine IPA. From the beautiful orange-sunshine color to the juicy pineapple-pine flavor, it’s a classic American IPA that is quickly become a local favorite. Not too sweet, not too bitter, not too malty, not too hoppy- this brew keeps all of it balanced. Plus you can’t beat the can design and at 6% ABV you can have two without feeling too guilty about it.
Pairs well with: roast turkey, twice-cooked brisket, Moroccan chicken
#2- Fort Point Pale Ale (Trillium Brewing, Boston, MA)
Good luck finding this- but if you head to Fort Point Channel or their Canton facility you might have some success. Ordinarily I’m not into the pale ales because they tend to taste, well, pale, but in this case, it’s worth it. At 6.6% ABV it definitely has a little kick, and the combination of hazy color, big old tropical/peach/mango flavor reflexively make you think “saison” instead of pale ale. This is a good beer for the last days of summer and for days when you’re still wearing shorts because it’s 65-70 degrees out. But of the three beers on this list it’s the most drinkable.
Pairs well with: apples and honey, raisin challah.
#3- Pumking Ale (Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, NY)
Pumpkin beers- some people love them, some people hate them. But when we hit up Tavern in the Square a few weeks ago this was on tap and I’m loving this season’s edition. It’s a little less sweet than prior varieties (which is a good thing), and the combination of big pumpkin taste and 8.6% ABV makes this a good choice for cool fall evenings. It comes with a vocal undertone of maple and a lovely orange glow, but drink it slowly or you’ll overwhelm yourself. You could certainly stow some away for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays as well- I could envision a Pumking-Harpoon Chocolate Stout two-fer for Thanksgiving dessert that would take care of all your problems.
Pairs well with: cinnamon apple cake, apple pie, honey cake
Shana Tovah, and as always, enjoy these brews responsibly.
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