Brews Allowed Under Jewish Dietary Law
So, which beers are kosher and who decides? The kashrut spells out in general terms what foods and beverages are and are not allowed. Often, due to food and beverage preparation and production in differing states or countries, the kashrut must be interpreted by the local Vaad, each with its own purview. Vaad is a Hebrew term for a council of rabbis (a diasporic phenomenon, having no precedent in Talmudic times). Vaads have various responsibilities; some deal with maintaining communal standards of kashrut; others deal with communal standards of marriage, divorce and conversion to Judaism.
Beer Produced by Typical Methods is Usually Kosher
According to Rabbi Tzvi Rosen, editor of Kashrus Kurrents, beer produced by typical methods does not violate the kashrut. In other words, it is generically kosher. None of the raw ingredients and additives used in domestic American beers, Norwegian beers, or German beers present concerns for kashrut. English beers are generally permitted, but stouts require kosher certification.
Please note, however, that certain additives and flavorings may impact on the kashrut status of a beer. In any case where extraneous flavoring — such as fruit, fruit syrups, or spices — have been added, the beer would require certification. Furthermore, some higher alcohol beers are fermented with yeast other than typical brewer’s yeast. For example, whenever non-kosher wine or champagne yeast has been used, certification is also required.
Rabbi Rosen concludes that, of course, the safest route is to purchase beer with kosher certification. However, in circumstances where facts or evidence overwhelmingly prove that there are no kashrut concerns, the Torah yields to the dictates of the evidence.
Below is a list of beers, some of which are kosher and others that are not. Be aware that not even these approved products are kosher for Passover unless noted as such on the individual label. Also, Many breweries are coming out with specialty brews that have additives; don’t assume that all varieties are acceptable -check the label.
- All unflavored beers, domestic and imported, with no additives listed on the ingredient label are acceptable, even without a kosher certification. This applies to both American domestic beers and imported beers, including non-alcoholic and dark beers.
- Any stout listed as a sweet stout, cream stout or milk stout has probably been sweetened with lactose, which is also not kosher.
- The current crop of lime-flavored beers, such as Miller Chill, are not certified Kosher.
- Mackeson Triple Stout Beer is not recommended due to the additives and its dairy ingredients.
- Flavored Beers from thefollowing breweries are currently certified Kosher: Saranac (all products), Brooklyn Brewery (all products), Pete’s Brewing (all products) and F. X. Matt Brewing (all products).
- The following beers from the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams): Black Lager, Boston Ale, Boston Lager, Brown Ale, Cherry Wheat, Cranberry Lambic, Cream Stout, Double Bock, Hefeweizen, Octoberfest, Old Fezziwig, Pale Ale, Spring Ale, Summer Ale, White Ale and Winter Lager.
- All products from Coors and Molson (currently a bi-national corporation in the U.S. and Canada).
- The following beers are under the supervision of the Kosher Australia Party, even without any kosher marking on the label: Coopers Sparkling Ale, Coopers Best Extra Stout, Coopers Special Old Stout, Coopers Premium Lager and Coopers Extra Strong Vintage Ale.
- And, of course, HeBrew Beer, Messiah Ale, Jewbulation Ale and all the products from the Schmaltz Brewing Company.
When in doubt always check package labels for kosher certification. For further details, go to www.Kashrut.com which publishes periodic updates on this topic.