It’s a special Chanukah for Shmaltz Brewing Company, which is celebrating 20 years of making Jewish-themed, certified kosher beers this winter. A special occasion deserves a special beer, but… distilling a pastrami sandwich into a pilsner?
"Pastrami Pils just kind of manifested itself into the hearts and minds of all involved," says Shmaltz head brewer Richie Saunders about turning the Jewish deli staple into a sippable pint. "Beer has often been referred to as ‘liquid bread,’ so the sandwich characteristics are almost easy as pie.”
No actual meat was used in the brewing process — Saunders teased out the smoked meat flavor using salts, black pepper and smoked malt, but the fresh horseradish was grated right into the barrel along with caraway for the customary rye bread. The result is a 5.5% ABV pilsner, brewed to be easier to indulge in than, say, trying to eat an entire pastrami sandwich in one sitting at Katz’s.
To taste the Pastrami Pils for yourself, head to the Chanukah vs. Christmas beer battle royale on Dec. 16 starting at Barcade Brooklyn at 5 p.m., then moving on to Williamsburg’s Spuyten Duyvil at 7 p.m. Also facing off are three other Shmaltz brews, including the 16.8% ABV Jewbelation 20 Anniversary Ale that you’ll want to drink sitting down, against the best Christmas brews from Pennsylvania's Sly Fox Brewing.
If you can’t make it to the competition, Pastrami Pils will be available at Barcade while it lasts, or at Shmaltz’s taproom in Clifton Park if you’re headed upstate for the holidays.