Jews and Brewing History

There is currently a special exhibit, “Beer is the Wine of this Land: Jewish Brewery Tales” at the Jewish Museum in Munich. The story of Jewish beer culture begins in Egypt, where the enslaved Israelites discovered the beverage and later brewed it when they returned to Israel. For a time, beer was considered a universal remedy that could treat everything from snake bites to leprosy.

The Jews’ connection to Germany dates back to the Middle Ages, when they were expelled from most of Europe’s cities. Some German Jews cultivated hops, and most of the hop farms near Nuremburg were owned by Jews. During the Third Reich, the farms were acquired by German owners in what the museum’s director called a “friendly Aryanization”; they were given back to their owners after the war.

Other Jews in the industry weren’t as lucky as the hop growers. One notable exile was Hermann Schülein, who fled to the United States and became the manager of the Liebman Brewery. Its flagship product was a New York icon: Rheingold lager, which was famous for using celebrity endorsers and staging the annual Miss Rheingold beauty competition.

Rheingold production ended in 1976, but the tradition of Jewish brewing in New York is being carried on by the Shmaltz Brewing Company, whose products include eight beers brewed for Hanukkah.

The Friday Mash (Festivus Edition)

It’s time for Festivus, a holiday celebrated with an aluminum “Festivus pole”, rituals like the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength”, and calling easily explainable events “Festivus miracles.” While beverages aren’t obligatory, they come highly recommended.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Muskegon, Michigan, the self-proclaimed “beer tent capital of the world,” where 13 residents stripped to their swimsuits and waded into Lake Michigan to attract a brewery to their city.

Australian researchers have found that a one-degree (Celsius) increase in average monthly temperature translates into a 2.1 percent increase in beer consumption. That’s 10,000 extra cases.

Dogfish Head Artisan Ales is planning a $50 million expansion of its brewery in Milton, Delaware. Unfortunately, some locals voiced their objections to the traffic the brewery will create.

Last week, the Globe and Mail’s website ran a slideshow which features 12 Canadian craft brewers that are shaking up the country’s brewing industry.

Ashley Rouston, The Beer Wench, lists the craft beer community’s 20 most compelling personalities on Twitter. Drat! Ludwig isn’t one of them.

Injuries forced Yao Ming to end his pro basketball career, but the NBA continues its efforts to win fans in China with a partnership between the Miami Heat and Chinese beer company Tsingtao.

Finally, now that it’s Hanukkah, brewers are bringing out holiday beers for Jewish beer drinkers. Why not? Jews have brewed beer for thousands of years in Asia, Europe, and America.

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