Monday, June 29, 2015

Belated Sunday Night Suds - Jailbreak Infinite Ale



This week's Sunday Night Suds comes as a belated version as I spent most of Sunday in transit and did not get a chance to write my review of this week's brew until this evening. As such, and with apologies galore, this week's SNS looks at Jailbreak's Infinite Ale.

I first tried this beer when I stopped in at the Jailbreak brewery in Laurel, Maryland in January. At the time, I sampled this beer in draft and I have now also tried the canned version. I can report that although the canned version is good, it does not compare with this brew on tap.

The Infinite Ale poured a dark orange, bordering on deep copper. There was some lacing on the glass and there is more than ample carbonation. The hops are not in the forefront, but after a few sips I started to taste the pepper backbone of the brew. Then, as the beer began to reach room temperature, more flavors started to come out, including some pine and some citrus. I did not start this as a near frozen beer that had sat in the fridge for weeks, but the change in flavor profile from cold to closer to room temperature was striking.

Although this brewery is less than a year old, they already have a following on Beer Advocate and you can click www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/34426/136250 to see their thoughts on the Amber Ale.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

Finally, if you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Chukas

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Parshas Chukas the Torah recounts a conversation between the Jews and the King of Edom in connection with their request to travel through the land of Edom to reach the land of Israel. (Bamidbar 20:14-21). The Jews asked for permission to travel through the land and are turned down. The Jews then offered to pay for whatever they drank, but again are turned down.

R' Frand quoted the Sefer Birchas Ish  - who writes that when Edom refused the Jews' request to travel through the land the Torah writes "Vayima'en Edom" and the cantillation marks (trup) are a munach and revi'i. However, the munach has a pesik after it, which indicates a stop. This is odd since the concept of Vayima'en Edom is one thought and the munach and revi'i are often together. 

The Birchas Ish explains that the reason for the pesik is to show that Edom was not making the decision to turn down the Jews' request. He stated that when the Jews make a request to the other nations for a favor, Hashem takes the decision whether to grant or deny the request out of the hands of the nation and He makes the decision himself.

R' Frand tied this into the looming deadline for the negotiations with Iran. We can believe that the United States and allies are in control and are making concessions based upon their thinking. However, the decisions are being made by Hashem and we need to appeal directly to Him for help.

R' Frand next made reference to Bamidbar 21:1 which which recounts that the Canaani King of Arad heard that the Jews were coming and attacked. Rashi on this pasuk states that the attackers were actually from Amalek. So why were they called Canaani? They spoke in the manner of Canaani as a military tactic so that the Jews would think that they were Canaani. However, they continued to dress as Amalek. They theorized that if the Jews believed they were from Canaani and prayed to Hashem that He save them from Canaani they would be unsuccessful since they really were not from Canaan.

R' Frand then asked - why would Amalek do this, did they think that this would be a successful tactic? The answer is yes, since they had tried this before in Shemos 17:8-13 which discusses the battle between the Jews and Amalek at Refi'dim. During the battle, when Moshe raised his hand the Jews would succeed and if his hands dropped they would falter. The Tosafos Yom Tov explains that when Moshe raised his hands, the Jews recognized that it was all from Hashem and they prayed to Him and received assistance. Being aware of this, Amalek tried to confuse the Jews so that there prayers would be directed towards another entity. However, the Jews did not direct their prayers against Canaan and instead asked for help from "this nation."

At the end of the parsha (Bamidbar 21:21-35) there is a discussion of the Jews' request to Sichon to travel through his land. Unlike the situation with Edom, this turns into a battle and the Jews captured the land. The gemara in Bava Basra comments on the words Bo'u Cheshbon (21:27) - that this refers not to the conquerors, but to those who have control over their urges and who weigh the financial loss vs reward for a mitzva and similarly weigh the loss/gain for an aveirah. The Rashbam explains that a person may think he is losing money for doing a mitzva or gaining financially for an aveirah, but the person needs to weigh what the loss/gain would be in the World to Come.

But the question needs to be asked - why is this taught here? R' Frand explained that Sichon hired Bila'am to help defeat Moab. Bila'am was handsomely paid for the job and there was surely a victory celebration. However, this was part of Hashem's plan. The Jews were not allowed to attack Moab, but because Sichon took the land by force, the Jews were able to attack and conquer. If not for Sichon's victory, the Jews could not capture the land. This is the message of Bo'u Cheshbon - you may see this a great victory, but wait and see what the end result is in the long run.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Cider


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Cider.

Yes, I know that hard apple cider is not beer and I am sure that I will get email and comments from people who will correctly point out that it does not qualify as "suds", but I bought this a few months ago at the suggestion of a mashgiach who really knows beer and so I had to review it to toast my kids who are the apple[s] of my eye.

Strongbow makes four versions of its hard cider which are certified kosher by the Kosher Federation (KF) - the Cinnamon Apple, Ginger Apple, Gold Apple and Gold Cider. A press release touts Strongbow as the world's leading cider brand, citing to some Euro-study, but I cannot vouch for its accuracy. However, given that its import rights are owned by Heineken, it is readily available in the US and I would imagine that it does contribute to its sales numbers.

Unlike many other hard ciders which I have tried, this cider really had very little alcoholic kick to it. The cider tastes like it has been made with a cross between Macintosh and granny smith apples and it pours a clear color and has a smell which is reminiscent of apple juice. There is somewhat of an alcohol flavor in the aftertaste but it is really not bitter at all. I have a hard time believing the label's claim that this is 5% abv.

For those looking for an alternative for their nine days havdallah needs, this may fit the bill. Just remember to check with your posek as to his preference for havdallah (wine/grape juice consumed by child/beer or alcoholic fruit drinks).

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer (or cider) unless there is no designated driver. 

If you've tried this cider or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable). 

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Korach

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand. 

[Due to a technical glitch, the audio failed during the broadcast of the end of the halacha portion and the first of the two parsha vorts. As such, this blog post will only summarize the second parsha vort. If you would like to see more from R' Frand on the parsha, please search using the search box above.]

The gemara states in Sanhedrin that On's wife saved him from destruction. The gemara recounts the conversation wherein his wife said to On - why are you getting involved? You still will be On and cannot rise to a position of power. On heeds his wife's advise and says - but what can I do? She then gets him drunk and sits outside the tent with her hair uncovered. When the men come for On they see that her hair is uncovered and they leave.

R' Frand quoted the sefer Siyach Ya'akov who made an interesting observation. He notes that the people were willing to challenge Moshe - the holiest man who speaks to Hashem. Yet, they saw a woman who was not dressed modestly and ran away. How can people be so holy that they won't look at her, but when they got involved in an argument, they got carried away? Clearly, they were not so holy.

R' Frand next quoted from the Haftorah which tells the story of Shmuel, who argues with the Jews. In Shmuel I (12:3), Shmuel says to them - have I ever taken anything from you? Have I been dishonest? They respond - no. This is similar to the parsha where Moshe states to Hashem in Bamidbar 16:15, I have not taken any of their donkeys, nor have I wronged even one of them.

The question can be asked - why is it that Moshe does not make the same speech to the people that Shmuel did? Moshe instead makes these comments to Hashem, but Shmuel is effective in relating this to the people?

R' Frand answered that the difference was that Moshe was dealing with people who were in the middle of a machlokes. When people are in the middle of machlokes there is no reasoning with them. People will not listen and do not want to listen when they are in the middle of a public argument. For people like this, the only solution is for the ground to open and swallow them. 

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday's Musings on Sports - Sports Hate the Championship Edition

Recently I bumped into an old friend who lives in the Maryland area. He's a big Washington Capitals fan and since the Rangers had knocked out the Caps in the 2nd Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs I knew that he would have something to say.

When the conversation eventually got to hockey, he mentioned to me that his six year old son had been indoctrinated in sports hate. He told me that his son was upset when the Rangers eliminated the Capitals, but also that his son was elated when he read the paper the morning after the TB Lightning eliminated the Rangers. After reading the headline, his son gave a big fist pump. And as such, another sports fan had crossed the bridge from fandom to sports hate.

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand how once your team has been eliminated, you might feel a need to root against the team which ended your team's season. But occasionally, fandom crosses the line of fanaticism and people's jealousy or enthusiasm takes a more sinister turn.

A prime example would be the Lebron James "haters" who will criticize him for any reason, or for no reason at all. Yes, there were many reasons to dislike Lebron when he orchestrated his departure from Cleveland to Miami and left so many teams (and their fans) at the altar. But its now four years later and the prodigal son has returned to Cleveland. Lebron led the team back to the NBA Finals, with a supporting cast is not nearly as strong as it was in Miami. But people still nit pick and the media attempts to goad him into criticizing his teammates and/or coach. And the "twitterverse" explodes every time that he makes the smallest misstep. Because people just can't get enough baseless sports hate.

Perhaps the most extreme example took place last week in Glendale, Arizona. Although the NHL will never admit that it made a mistake, the Phoenix market clearly cannot support a hockey team. When the City Counsel voted to void the Coyotes' arena lease, a very impassioned fan made a speech to the Mayor and Counsel wherein she called out the Mayor for not being supportive of the team (click here for a link to the speech). And although her speech was inspiring, the later story from this week that she attended a charity event and tased the Mayor (click here for a link to the story) leaves me wondering whether she too has crossed the line of sports hate.

The senseless sports hatred reminds me of another senseless hatred/jealousy which we see in this week's Torah reading. Korach was one of the richest men and had an important and honorable job. Yet, when he got news that the position of nasi would bypass him he fomented a revolution which even carried along people who were not members of the tribe of Levi. 

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Ommegang Nirvana IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Ommegang's Nirvana IPA.

About a year and half ago, I wrote about Duvel's acquisition of Boulevard and Ommegang (for the full post please click here - http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/10/sunday-night-suds-boulevard-pale-ale.html). At the time I speculated as to whether the fact that Duvel was under hashgacha in Europe would lead to the production of kosher certified Ommegang beers.

Well, the wait is over as the first round of kosher certified Ommegang brews has hit the shelf. The fact that this beer is kosher certified is entirely due to the purchase of both breweries by Duvel, as the Nirvana IPA is actually brewed in the Boulevard plant for Ommegang.

After learning of this cross-over kosher brew, I went to my local #1 beer store (Beverage Barn on Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park) and plunked down 11.99 to buy a six pack of the Nirvana IPA. Certainly pricey, but since the beer is sold in sealed six packs there was no way to buy just one bottle. But even the store clerk who helped me find this beer was excited by this turn of events. He did not know or care that the Nirvana IPA was kosher (and I did not advise him of it either) but it did represent the first Ommegang IPA.

So what does the beer taste like? Its a somewhat mild IPA with some pine and citrusy-grapefruit like hops on the back end. The beer is a little thin for an IPA and is more cloudy than I would have expected, but it is very drinkable. They may say that this beer is 6.5% abv, but that seems higher than you would expect from the taste of the brew.

Ommegang Nirvana IPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Kansas City, but the bottle I purchased did not have the certification mark on the label. If you would like the LOC from the Va'ad, please let me know and I will email it to you.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link -http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/42/159676.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver. 

If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable). 

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!