January 28, 2018

Shabbat cholent und bier

At my age, there are few redeeming qualities about cold and blustery days.  One of them is enjoying a strong, flavorful beer.  Such a beer was just waiting for me this past Shabbat when my wife Trudy prepared her very excellent vegetarian cholent, a thick stew of barley, beans and potatoes, textured vegetable protein, veggie hot dogs and spices.  The aroma of hot, spicy cholent fills the kitchen; sometimes the whole house.  People who eat cholent on Shabbat say it has the taste of the World to Come.

Image result for giesinger innovatorYou know the beer had to be special.  This one was Giesinger Innovator, a Dunkler Doppelbock from the Giesinger Brewery in Munich.  It was brought to me by my friend Bernhard Purin, Director of the Munich Jewish Museum, on his last visit to Israel.  It's a giveaway that beer names ending with "-ator" are double bocks.

There has to be a very good reason for me to leave my comfort zone and write about non-Israeli beers, and a gift from Bernhard on such a winter's day met the requisites.

The Innovator is a hearty double bock lager, dark ruby brown color and 7.3 % alcohol by volume.  In the aroma and taste is unmistakable roasted barley malt, and this sang love songs to the barley in the cholent.  As a fine example of the traditional double bock style, Innovator caresses your olfactory nerve with notes of caramel, chocolate, and raisins.  The taste is sweet, and heavy with caramel, fruit cake and some alcohol.  It is a wonderful balance to the spice and earthiness of the cholent, and the sharpness of the pickle and mustard that invariably accompany it.  A taste of the Garden of Eden, as they say.

I'm sure the double bock would have enhanced the intensity of a chocolate dessert -- but alas, we didn't have any this time.

Image result for martin luther katharina von bora
By all accounts, the Luthers were
a happily married couple:
Martin, a former monk, and
Katharina, a former nun. 
The take-away line from this feast is just this: Increase the enjoyment of your hearty winter meals with a strong, malt-forward beer.  There are enough Israeli craft beers which fit this description to keep you glowing all winter.
The Giesinger Innovator bottle has something you will not see on the bottles of Israeli beer -- a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation (1517-2017), when Martin Luther first challenged the authority and practices of the Catholic Church.  (It may have something to do with the fact that the Giesinger Brewery is located on Martin Luther Street in Munich.)

Historians point out that Martin Luther's wife Katharina was an excellent home-brewer and that Martin loved her beer.  "If you do not have beer," he is quoted as saying, "you have nothing to drink."  Amen.

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