22 April 2008

Bread of Affliction Blues | Dealing with a beer-free week

Every year, I do something that fellow beer geeks rarely do voluntarily: I swear off beer for eight days. Why? Because I'm Jewish and it's Passover, the annual celebration of the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (cf. Charlton and Yul squaring off in Technicolor). Aside from sitting down to at least one long dinner called a Seder and stuffing ourselves silly, those of us who are at least somewhat observant also try to forgo the consumption of chametz, which my buds at Chabad concisely define as "any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, which has leavened (risen) or fermented." This prohibition is why Jews eat that unleavened crappy cardboard cracker stuff called matzah (also known as the "bread of affliction"). In addition, for the eight days of the holiday, there's no bread, no bagels, no pizza . . . and no beer.

So what's a Jew to drink if he or she doesn't want to subsist on bad kosher wine? Well, Ramapo Valley Brewery of Hillburn, New York, makes the only beer that is certified kosher for Passover. Called Passover Honey Beer, the drink at first glance appears to be mead because it's made with honey. However, mead is not normally made with hops, and the Passover Honey Beer is. The beer is also gluten-free, so people with celiac disease may freely partake in it.

While the Passover Honey Beer hasn't received glowing reviews, I'm willing to give it a try because it is described as having a character similar to that of hard apple cider, and I love hard cider. So, beer sleuths, I put this question to you: may I find this beer in Indiana?


  1. Hello, fellow Jew. It's a hard week for us as well. We switch completely to wine during Passover. No bread. No beer. It's tough.

  2. Hey Jeff! Wine is the way that I go as well. And there's always the flourless chocolate cake. Mmmmmmm.

    Had I been able to go to Dark Lord Day, however, I might have conveniently forgotten to swear off chametz for a day.

  3. I think if I was in the position I would just go for great hard cider!

  4. And thats why I am an atheist

  5. I e-mailed Ramapo Valley to ask them whether the Passover Honey Beer was available in Indiana. I got what appears to be a form response:

    "Dear Customer:

    We apologize for not having our beer ready for sale. We are still awaiting the approval from the ATF ( alcohol tobacco & firearms ) regulatory body of the federal government for our permit.

    Although the state of New York has approved our license along with the FDA, some ten months ago, this final approval has been under review by the ATF for eight months.

    We hope the approval will come shortly, however until then , we are restricted from shipping our beer.

    Yours truly,

    Dan Scott, President, RVB"

    I gather from this response that the beer is not distributed in Indiana, but may be available via mail order once the brewery gets a permit from the ATF.