Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Jailbreak Brewing Big Punisher IPA


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Jailbreak Brewery's Big Punisher IPA.

Unfamiliar with the Jailbreak Brewery? So was I until mid January when the Star-K published a new batch of LOCs which indicated that Jailbreak Brewery was under their kosher supervision. Not longer after I learned that they were certified kosher, I received an email from new papa Kasey Turner who invited me to stop by the brewery and sample some of their brews. As we happened to be in the Virginia area for our kids Yeshiva Week/Winter Break, we made plans to stop in for a quick look-see on our way back from vacation.

The brewery is located in Laurel, Maryland, midway between Silver Spring and Baltimore. Although it is located in a nondescript office park, the brewery is modern, clean and extremely well thought out. There is also a beautiful tavern-style tap room which was hosting a private function for a group of nearly 150 people when I arrived on Tuesday night.

As Kasey was otherwise occupied with the responsibilities of fatherhood, I was given a tour by Heather Newman, who managed to show me around while also juggling the technical aspects of the private function being hosted in the taproom.

But enough about my experiences, I am sure that you want to know about the beers! 

This microbrewery pushes the envelope with some very interesting flavor combinations as well as a limited number of more traditonal beers. While I was there, I sampled the Amber Ale as well as the Feed the Monkey Hefeweizen. The Amber Ale was smooth, but had more of a backbone then I would have expected in a beer which has a 5.0% abv. More impressive to me was the Hefeweizen as the phenols were present and the citrus aftertaste was reminiscent of a high grade euro hefe.

Since the party was in full swing, I could not bring Mrs KB or the kids in with me, but I did bring back one can of the Welcome to Scoville (Jalapeno IPA!); Ryemin & Schemin and the Big Punisher IPA.

As you can see from the picture above, the Big Punisher poured a golden orange with a nice amount of foam. The beer has a strong kick (8.6% abv) and while there is a barleywine type alcohol flavor, it also had a nice amount of pine and citrusy hops. Mrs KB really appreciated it too, so I may have to ask my brother in law to bring some from Baltimore the next time that he comes up to NY.

The Big Punisher IPA is certified kosher by the Star-K and there is a Star-K on the can. Click here (www.star-k.org/directory/comp-k.asp?src=&compid=SEEDVZ8M )for a copy of the LOC showing which of their products are certified kosher. You can also click here (jailbreakbrewing.com) to see their website and to use their locator to find their products. At present they are only selling in the MD area, but I am hopeful that we will see them in NY/NJ area before too long.

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/34426/118522 to see their thoughts on the Big Punisher IPA.

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, January 22, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Bo

Regular readers of this blog are aware that during the scholastic year, the Thursday Night blog post is usually a summary of the vort said by R' Frand in his TCN shiur. Tonight, R' Frand was unable to give the shiur as he was out of town, but his son filled in and gave an excellent shiur in his stead. The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand's son on the parsha this evening. 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 the maggid shiur.

The Mishna in Pesachim quotes a pasuk from this week's parsha (Shemos 12:15) which juxtaposes the obligation to eat matza and the issur of chametz and learns from this that matza must be made from a grain which can become chometz. If a grain is exposed to water and can become leavened, it is permitted to be used for matzas mitzva. But a grain such as rice or millet which will merely rot and cannot become leavened when exposed to water cannot be used as matza.

He then asked the following question - if the point of matza is to be something far away from chometz, then the best matza should be made from flour which cannot be chametz. Why do we not make matza from these other grains?

Before answering the question, he gave a background to chometz. The gemara in Berachos calls the yezter hara the s'iur she'bissa = chametz. We see chametz as evil qualities - it is bloated, it comes from laziness. On the other hand, matza is simple and humble, it has a zerizus as one must jump and be precise when making it. The taste of matza is not overly rich and the matza is not full of itself.

The message of the Torah is that when a person has a yetzer and overcomes it, he is great. A person who has nothing to be proud of does not have to overcome being haughty. A person who has what to crow about and overcomes this yetzer to be arrogant and haughty is a great person. The matza could have been chometz, but it has been engineered not to be sloth or bloated. This is something to aspire to.

He next quoted a Medrash about a Rabbi who was confused about the praise that the dog gives to Hashem in Perek Shira. The praise that the dog gives is a statement that we should bow and subjugate ourselves to Hashem. The Rabbi was confused - this is not the nature of the dog, a dog is brazen and bows to no one. So how does the dog praise Hashem with bowing and humility?

The Rabbi was answered by an angel who came to him in a dream and explained that the dog can say this statement because we see that when the Jews left Egypt, the dog was silent. The dog went against its nature and was submissive to Hashem. So the dog has the background to make the statement to Hashem.

He continued by examining the reward given to the dog. The Torah states at Shemos 22:30, that the dog receives the neveilos thrown to him, which the gemara in Pesachim 22 states is a reward because the dogs did not bark when the Jews left Egypt.

But why do the dogs receive the biggest reward? It would appear that the frogs had an even greater role as they gave up their lives to jump into the ovens and otherwise harass the Egyptians, even though the Egyptians would kill them. Why do the frogs not receive a big reward for this?

He answered that the dogs went against their nature by not barking. However the frogs only did what they normally do. Frogs jump and these frogs just kept on jumping. But dogs naturally bark and they went against their nature and did not bark, even though they were nervous/frightened at seeing these events. Since the dog went against its nature, the dog received a reward.

This is the message of the matza - a person could have embraced any of the evil middos of chametz, but he went against his nature and became matza. If the person did not need to work on himself, there is no reward. Because if a person is alive, he is struggling. But if he is struggling, he is rewarded for his acts. 

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, January 15, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Vaera

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 Shemos 7:9 the Torah states that the Chartumim in Egypt were able to replicate the act of the stick turning into a snake.

Rabbi Frand quoted the Zohar which explains that not only did the Chartumim perform the act of changing the staff to a snake but their wives and even their children were able to do so.

Rabbi Frand quoted R' Yaakov Kaminetsky who asks in Emes L'Yaakov - if this was so commonplace in those times, what has changed that now these acts cannot be done? He answered that there is a concept that Hashem makes a "level playing field". If Moshe had the ability to perform miracles, it would be impossible to deny the truth of Judaism and everyone would want to convert to Judaism. It would also destroy the concept of free choice and the reward for choosing to follow Hashem would be lessened. Therefore, as long as there was a Koach HaKedushah, Hashem created a parallel power for the rest of the world.

He brought a proof from the Ramban who notes that in Shemos 14:21 that the Torah describes a Ruach Kadim Azah - a wind that came before the splitting of Yam Suf. Why? So that Pharaoh could say that this was a natural event and he would go into the sea without fear. Because by making this an open miracle there would be no chance that Pharaoh would follow.

This is also supported by the Gemara which states that there never was a Navi like Moshe among the Jewish people, but there was among the rest of the world - Bilaam. This was a counterbalance so that the other nations could not say that we did not observe Hashem because they did not have a prophet similar to Moshe.

Rabbi Frand next quoted the Rambam in Perush HaMishnayos who states that there are no sheidim. He noted that the Gra takes issue with this Rambam since in the time of the Gemara there clearly were sheidim. But this too is explained by R' Yaakov in Emes L'Yaakov as he states that the reason there were sheidim in the Gemara was because there was a great level of Kedushah. However, as the generations' level of kedusha receded, the counterbalance of tumah lessened as well. As such, when the Rambam said that there was no sheidim, he was talking about his generation, because they were not on the same level as the Gemara.

R' Frand closed this part of the vort by quoting R' Yaakov who explained that the last exorcising of a dibbuk was performed by the Chafetz Chaim. It was observed by R' Elchanan that this would probably be the last dibbuk, because it could only exist if there was someone on the level of the Chofetz Chaim and that only if there was a strong city of kedushah would Hashem allow another dibbuk.

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, January 11, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Into The Dark Black IPA

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac's Into The Dark Black IPA.

As has been mentioned in past Sunday Night Suds blog posts, this years's winter mix box contains two bottles of old favorite Pale Ale (reviewed here (kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/03/sunday-night-suds-saranac-pale-ale.html), more recent offerings 4059 Porter (reviewed herekosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-4059-porter.html) and Legacy IPA (reviewed herekosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/02/sunday-night-suds-saranac-legacy-ipa.html ), as well as new offerings Chai Brown Ale (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/12/sunday-night-suds-saranac-chai-brown-ale.html) Long John Lager (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2015/01/sunday-night-suds-saranac-long-john.html) and Into the Dark.

It seemed odd to me that Saranac released the Into The Dark Black IPA, so quickly after last year's delicious Moonshadow Black IPA (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2013/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-moonshadow.html). After tasting the beer, I am slightly disappointed as the Into The Dark Black IPA does not live up to the standard set by last year's version of the Black IPA.

This beer pours a deep dark black (see picture above) with more than a fair amount of lacing. There was more malt than I would usually want in an IPA and the hops were severely subdued. The beer has a 6.5% abv, and I actually did feel the alcohol when I consumed this a few hours after dinner tonight. 

Saranac Into the Dark Black IPA is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit as is every other beer produced at the Matt Brewery plant in Utica, NY. Keep in mind, Saranac brews some of its High Peaks series off site and these bottles do not have kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this beer, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/132408.

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, January 8, 2015

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. 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 Shemos 4:22, Hashem tells Moshe that he should tell Pharaoh "Beni Bechori Yisrael" - loosely translated as "My first born son is Israel."

Rashi on this pasuk states that the language of bechor does not mean first born, it means great. Then Rashi adds a second explanation from the Medrash and says that in making this statement, Hashem gives his approval for Yaakov's purchase of the Bechorah from Esav.

Rabbi Frand asked three questions on this Rashi. 

(1) Rashi usually states the simple pshat and only uses the Medrash if something is bothering him. What was bothering Rashi that he had to use this Medrash?

(2) Yaakov bought the Bechorah from Esav more than 250 years prior. Did Hashem not have an opportunity to give his approval until now?

(3) The concept of Bechor is giving the oldest child a double portion. Didn't we just see that the brothers had issues because Yosef was given something extra? Additionally, the Gemara in Ta'anis states that a man should not show favoritism among his children. So why is there a concept of Bechor?

Rabbi Frand answered these questions based on a vort from the Tollner Rebbi. He gave an introduction which noted that Hashem is disgusted by someone who is a kafui tov - an ingrate. Hashem does not tolerate an ingrate and one who does not recognize the good done for him by another will come to reject the good done for him by Hashem.

The next introduction came from the Meshech Chachma who states that a Bechor gets the double portion because the father owes the first born son, because he made the father into a father. This is why there is no problem of showing favoritism - because the father recognizes the good done for him by the son.

R' Frand next quoted a pasuk in Tehillim (chapters 14 and 53) which states that a menuval says in his heart that there is no Hashem. The Medrash on this pasuk relates a story wherein Esav wanted to kill Yitzchak so that he could inherit the berachos. Esav could not do the wet work himself, so he went to Yishmael and asked him to do it. As part of this plan, he said to Yishmael - if you kill Yitzchak, then I will kill Yaakov and we can rule together. But in his heart he said - at the end, I will kill Esav (who happened to be his father in law) and it will all be mine --this is the menuval.

Similarly, Pharaoh is also an ingrate. The Jews saved Egypt and the Egyptians are aware of this, but Pharaoh has no cognizance of this and he does not seek to repay their kindness. 

When Hashem sees this, He agrees to the sale because Bechorah is all about someone who recognizes the good that is done for him. Esav had not cognizance of the good and planned for the death of his father, brother and father in law. Seeing a person with similar traits, Hashem says - I agree with the sale of the Bechorah to someone who does recognize the good done for him.

This also answers the first question. Before the pasuk of Beni Bechori, Hashem talks to Moshe about going to Pharaoh and each time there is a direct reference to Pharaoh without the use of pronouns. When Hashem gives Moshe the message to tell Pharaoh that the Jews are the Bechor, the Torah again says tell Pharaoh. Rashi is bothered by the choice to say tell Pharaoh instead of say "to him." So Rashi quotes the Medrash now, in order to link together two ingrates. The Arizal states that the letters of Pharaoh can be boggled to read Haoref - the back of the neck - because a person who turns his back is an ingrate. Rashi brings this here because Hashem is saying, now is the time to show the ingrate that I approved of the transfer of the Bechorah from an ingrate to one who recognizes the good done for him.

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, January 4, 2015

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Long John Lager


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac's Long John Lager.

With the weatherman predicting that Long Island will get its first snow, followed by an Arctic Express, it seemed like an opportune time to review one of Saranac's newest beers - the Long John Lager. 

This years's winter mix box contained two bottles of old favorite Pale Ale (reviewed here (kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/03/sunday-night-suds-saranac-pale-ale.html), more recent offerings 4059 Porter (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2012/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-4059-porter.html) and Legacy IPA (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/02/sunday-night-suds-saranac-legacy-ipa.html ), as well as new offerings Chai Brown Ale (reviewed here kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2014/12/sunday-night-suds-saranac-chai-brown-ale.html) Into the Dark and Long John Lager.

The Saranac Long John Lager poured a rich dark caramel. The beer had more than a fair amount of lacing which coated the glass more than half an hour later. There was significant breadiness which is to be expected in a winter lager, but the spices were a little more subdued than I was hoping for. The beer has a 5.5% abv, but the alcohol flavor is somewhat pronounced. 

I enjoyed this beer on its own, but could see pairing this with a sweet poultry dish or braised lamb.

Saranac Long John Lager is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit as is every other beer produced at the Matt Brewery plant in Utica, NY. Keep in mind, Saranac brews some of its High Peaks series off site and these bottles do not have kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this beer, please follow this link www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/132539.

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!