Put on your Yamaka, it’s time for Chanukah! In honor of the Jewish Festival of Lights, I painted the He’Brew Messiah Nut Brown Ale by Shmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park, NY. I wish I could have painted the Chanukah Beer, which is a dark ale, but I couldn’t find a bottle in Anchorage. Chanukah is a relatively minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, celebrating the miracle of lamp oil lasting for seven days longer than normal. The big holidays are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which happen after a holy month known as the Month of Elul, celebrating a time of thanksgiving, self-introspection, and charity. At the end of the month is the beginning of ten days of repentance, and represents the birth of Adam and Eve as well as recognition of humanity’s original sin. Then Jewish people celebrate Yom Kippur. The holiday starts with 24 hours of fasting from food and drink, followed by a huge Seder the following night called a Yom Tov, or simply celebration day! This is the day when a big party is thrown, and people drink and eat! So when you think about Jewish holidays, remember that Chanukah is not the biggest one, but has been glorified by Hallmark and the modern American culture to sell more products during the Solstice season.
Let’s talk beer. The Messiah Ale is a very tasty beer! The first beer I brewed with my brewing kit in 2006 was a batch of Nut Brown Ale. Malt driven, but balanced by slight hop additions, this beer requires additions of specialty malts darkening the beer to its beautiful brown hue, and is easy to brew. The Messiah Ale delivers the perfect American style brown ale flavor, a little fruit flavor of raisin and plum, but complimented by the roasted smoky grain. Sure, a peppermint ice cream beer may have more glitz than the old fashioned brown ale, but both have their place. Look to the roots of good beer, and you will find many great brown ales!
L’Chaim, Messiah Ale! A great beer for great times! I hope you enjoy one during the Festival of Lights.