December 29, 2014

First Israeli craft beer kiddush in America

"There have been synagogues which have brought in Israeli craft beers for other events, but to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time they were served at a Sabbath morning kiddush [post-service repast]."

This is what I heard from Austin Clar, manager of Sublime Imports in Dallas, Texas, the sole importer of Israeli craft beer into the U.S.  Clar was talking about a kiddush held on December 20 at The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton, New York.
Len Wasserman presents the Israeli craft beer
table at The Hampton Synagogue.

(Photos taken before Shabbat.)

Let's back up a little bit.

Having an Israeli craft beer table at a kiddush in an American synagogue was the brainchild of my friend Len Wasserman, a member of the Hampton Synagogue.  Len is a passionate beer lover and committed supporter of Israel.  He saw this kiddush as a way to introduce Israeli craft beer to the American Jewish market.

Cases of Malka and Alexander
beer on the way to Long Island. 
The Hampton Synagogue, founded by Rabbi Marc Schneier in 1990, is a unique, active and successful Orthodox synagogue located in one of America's most affluent areas on eastern Long Island.  Its lavish Saturday morning kiddushes would put many wedding receptions to shame, especially the groaning liquor tables.  But what has always been missing is beer.

Len decided to sponsor an Israeli craft beer table at a kiddush on the Sabbath of the Hanukka holiday.

Len says that he chose Hanukka because, "it is the holiday of light and freedom in the Land of Israel, and what could bring more light and freedom to the contemporary Land of Israel than Israeli craft beers, made from products of the earth and brewed by creative individuals in Israel."

Here's where Israel Brews and Views stepped in.  I was able to find out that Alexander and Malka are the two Israeli craft beers which are being distributed in the U.S.  The two and only, according to Austin Clar.  Len made contact with Sublime Imports and arranged to buy five cartons of beer.  One each of:

Alexander Ambree
The Alexander Beer side of the table . . .
Alexander Black (porter)
Alexander Green (IPA)
Malka Stout
Malka Pale Ale

Israel Brews and Views supported the beer table by printing flyers on the two breweries and (full disclosure) cards to promote the blog.

The Thursday before the kiddush saw Len driving his Buick all the way out to New Jersey to pick up the beer and bring it back to Westhampton.  On Friday, he set up the table and put the beers in the fridge.

The Israeli craft beer kiddush was a great success, Len reported.  By the end of the Sabbath, all 120 bottles were consumed.  Many people told Len how much they enjoyed the beers, even some who were not beer drinkers. 

 . . . and the Malka Beer side.
Len continued: "A number of people asked me where they could obtain these beers in the New York metro area.  I told them that, unfortunately, they are not available yet for retail distribution in New York.  I told them what they should do is take the flyers and, when they go to a kosher or Israeli restaurant, they should demand that these are the beers they should be serving -- not Bud, Miller and Heineken.  If we can create a demand, we should be able to create a market and the opportunity to buy these terrific products.  I told folks also that when they go to visit Israel, they should look for these and other craft beers and also visit a craft brewery or two.  I think people took it seriously."
Alexander beers.

According to Austin Clar, Alexander and Malka beer should be available in New York by the middle of 2015, as well as in Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Michigan.  The beers are already for sale in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Illinois (Chicago area), Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington DC, northern Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Malka beers.
Sublime has been importing Malka since October 2013, and Alexander since the summer of 2014.  Clar disclosed that he has been speaking with "several other" Israeli craft breweries, but doesn't expect to be importing other beers anytime soon. 

So, hearty congratulations to Len and his girlfriend Abigail Moore, who sponsored the Israeli craft beer table (in honor of the birthday of Abigail's aunt, Bernice Feldman).  Step-by-step, it's independent initiatives such as this that will open new markets and vistas for our Israeli beers.    


  1. Hey Doug, a couple of weeks ago you published that Alexander's makes 25,000-30,000 liters of beer each month. Is Malka that big? Or that smart?

  2. This post has been included in the Tevet-Shevat Kosher Cooking Carnival. I hope you'll read, comment and share the various posts and the blog carnival. You're invited to join the KCC community.


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