Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Ella Blanc IPL + Bonus Nine Days Havdallah Guide

This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Ella Blanc IPL.

If the kangaroo on the label is not enough a giveaway, the name of the beer comes from the Australian Ella hops which are used in the brew process.

The label also indicates that the beer is earthy and unexpected, but I found the beer to be mild and boring. There was little hop bite and some mild citrus, but the beer itself was more lager than "IP" anything. Although the beer indicates that it is 6.0% abv, there was no alcohol bite either.

The Samuel Adams Ella Blanc IPL is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K and has a Star-K certification mark on the bottle. To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about this brew, please follow this link -

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).

Important Disclaimer - If you are reading this post more than six months after it was written, please note that it is possible that the product is no longer still certified kosher. To verify that the product is still certified kosher, please click on the kosher beers list link on the top left corner of the blog.

Bonus section - Nine Days Havdalah Guide.

In years past, I would receive numerous email and cell phone messages prior to Shabbos Chazon (the Saturday within the summer nine days mourning period) with questions as to what would be a good choice to make havdalah on. As the Shabbos of the Nine Days actually falls towards the end of the period, I have presented the annual Nine Days Havdalah guide in this post to allow people to get an early look at alternatives to wine.

By way of introduction, on Saturday nights after the evening prayer is said, Jews have a special set of blessings that are said by which we separate between the holy shabbos and the rest of the week. There is a custom to say this prayer on a cup of wine, however this custom needs modification when the Saturday falls during the nine days of mourning.

As noted by the Orthodox Union on their website:

Meat and wine are prohibited during the Nine Days, except on Shabbat. Meat and wine are associated both with joy AND with Temple service. Both reasons combine to explain this prohibition. Even though havdala is officially after Shabbat, one is permitted to drink wine. It is preferable to give the wine to a child who is old enough to understand brachot but not yet old enough to understand the concept of "mourning for Jerusalem". Alternately, some authorities recommend the use of a substitute beverage for havdala such as fruit juice, beer, etc. Other authorities insist on wine as usual.

Should your local Rabbi direct you to utilize non-wine in your havdalah, there are multiple options to use to fulfill the havdalah requirement. Indeed, my father in law will use diet soda (or as he says "diet pop"). I recall as a child seeing my father on one occasion use hard alcohol for havdalah (and then burn the decorative plate my sibling made when he tried to put out the candle).

To me, the simplest answer to the havdalah dilemma (and one that is widely recommended by rabbinic authorities) is to use beer, which in the time of the talmud was called chamra d'medina - the wine of the masses. This brings us to the reason I get more summer phone calls and email around this time every year - which beer would I recommend?

The number one problem with the question is that most people who ask me about it don't generally drink beer. It then becomes difficult to make a recommendation of a beer that they can use for havdalah that won't have them making faces in their attempt to drink the halachic minimum level for the blessing. A second problem is that since the havdalah cup is imbibed on its own (i.e. without the benefit of food) people who might be inclined to have a beer with a meal will still have problems finishing their cup when the beer is consumed on its own.

The easiest solution is not to have beer, but instead to make havdalah on what is commonly called alcopop. These are malt beverage drinks with some similarities to beer and a beer-like 5% alcohol content by volume, but do not have the beer taste. Some examples are the Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams) Twisted Teas or the Smirnoff Twisted V/Twisted Ice line. Please be aware that not every flavor of Smirnoff is certified Kosher. There are also a limited number of kosher "hard sodas" such as Henry's Hard Soda (a MillerCoors brand under the OU) and Coney Island (a Samuel Adams brand under the Star-K)..

Another alternative is hard apple cider. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that for a time the Angry Orchard Hard Apple Cider was not certified kosher by the Star-K, but they have again been certified kosher. For a current list of Angry Orchard ciders as well as the Coney Island Hard Sodas under hashgacha, please click here (this will open a link which allows for a download of the LOC). Additionally, there has been an explosion of other kosher hard apple ciders, including Strongbow out of the UK, JK Scrumpy, Smith & Forge, Henry Hotspurs Hard Cider (a Trader Joe's brand) and Appleation.

There are also a number of fruit flavored beers which bridge the gap between alcopop and true beer. These include the Miller/Coors line of Redd's products, including Apple Ale, Blueberry Ale, Strawberry Ale, Cranberry Ale, Mango Ale and perhaps other (just look for the OU on the label). Earlier this month I reviewed some more mainstream mango beers like the Samuel Adams Rebel Juiced IPA (reviewed here and the Blue Moon Mango Wheat (reviewed here 

If you do like beer, or would like to drink something that is more manly than alcopop, the next step up would be an American wheat beer or some of the better Summer Ales. Many of these beers have been reviewed on the pages of this blog and you can search through prior Sunday Night Suds reviews to find one that might appeal to you. If you are a beer aficionado, you obviously won't need this post to tell you which ale or lager you should crack open for havdalah.

Again, I would stress that you consult your halachic authority before selecting a havdalah alternative. My Rav advises me that beer would be the first choice, followed by malt beverages. I did not ask about how the non alcohol options fit into the list.

May the world have a tikkun from our three weeks/nine days observances and may tisha b'av soon be transformed to the holiday that the gemara tells it will be in the times of moshiach bimheira biyamenu.

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