As all of us Rugrats fans know, the story of Hanukkah is one of adventure and courage. The Maccabees were a bunch of Jews that were at war with the larger, less hairy Greeks. The Greeks took the Jews’ temple and put pig all over it, making it unclean. The Jews then had to purify their temple by lighting their menorah lamp for eight days, but they only had enough oil for one day. They all complained for a while about this setback, but they lit the menorah anyway. To their surprise, the oil lasted for eight days. By this time, they'd already grown bored and started betting using gold coins and potato pancakes, so they decided to do it all again next year, and the year after that and after that. Then, 100 years later when Christ was born, they decided to make it a holiday where presents were exchanged! A miracle!
What most people don’t know is that this menorah that was such a miracle was actually just a bunch of bottles of mulled wine lined up in a row, topped with oil and lit on fire. What do you expect, an Olympian torch? They were at war with the Greeks.
During this festival of lights, 88 Chosen Bars across the nation (11 in NYC) will be providing New York craft brewery Shmaltz’ Jewbilation beers on tap. But they will also be selling gift packs in your local liquor stores, allowing you to make your own booze menorah just like the crafty Macabees.
Last night, on the second night of Hanukkah, I went to Pony Bar for the second installment of the Shmaltz Brewery Hanukkah event series. I was in search of a brewnorah, but found instead the inimitable Jeremy Cowan signing copies of his new book Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah, a tell-all account of being and brewing Jewish.
I sipped on He’Brew’s R.I.P.A. on Rye, a strong ale that is brewed in whiskey barrels before being bottled and put on tap. It was a beer that tasted like strength, like courage, and most of all, exactly like whiskey. I dipped my latke in it and felt like I had just become a woman.
Since tonight is Shabbat, everyone in the craft beer world is taking a break from Shmaltz tasting events, but the 88 Chosen Bars across the nation ( and the 11 in NYC) will still be pouring the miracle brews well after sundown. Tomorrow, Shmaltz is taking over the Whole Foods on Bowery at 5pm for a beer/cheese tasting, followed by a night of beer and burlesque (kosher burlesque) at Manitoba’s.
You, dear Jewrnal reader, should spend your Hanukkah Day 3 making your own He’Brew menorah. Just head to your favorite craft beer provider and pick up all eight of the Jewbilation bottles (available now in a Hanukkah gift pack), line em in a row, and then get creative with fashioning Hanukkah candles to the bottle tops. You can use bagels, macaroons, latkes, or bags of diamonds. But please don’t let it sit there for eight days. Just drink it.