Hops and Halacha

This morning at the Jericho Jewish Center, 10 people gathered in the Sisterhood kitchen to learn how to brew beer. In 3 hours, we made a pale ale, which is currently in the process of fermenting. We also learned about using beer for ritual ceremonies such as kiddush (when no wine is available) as well as about the kashrut of beer. The next step in to bottle the bear in 7-10 days after the yeast has caused the beer to ferment.

Yasher Koach to Dr. Steve Wishner (second last picture), a physician who in college and medical school developed the hobby of brewing his own beer. Dr. Wishner is well-versed in the chemistry and physics of beer-making and was able to explain it in a way that “common folk” (like myself) could understand. He also brought a number of pale ales for us to taste and explained to us the history of their development (and interesting trivia, such as why the Indian Pale Ale is more acidic than a regular pale ale). He also explained how different people add the malt and hops at different stages of the process to get different flavors as well as diverse strains of yeast. In addition, Dr. Wishner taught us how to properly taste a beer to get the full effect of its flavors.

I am interested in doing future programs cenetered on congregants and their hobbies. When I was a rabbinic intern in South Bend, I had a congregant who was a beekeeper, who showed me how he produces honey. In Tucson I had the opportunity to meet a congregant who was a pilot (allowing me to fly the plane in unrestricted air space!) There are so many people with such great wealth of information and fascinating hobbies that we can all learn from.

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