Max Tieger knows the question even before it's asked.
Why is a guy who works in a brewery named after a friar looking for kosher hops?
The answer goes back to his first days as brewmaster at Tuck's Brewery.
"When I came to Tuck's, this place was a
mess. We were generally regarded as the worst brewery in Oregon," says Tieger, who previously made beer at Northwest Portland's New Old Lompoc. "I figured I needed all the help I could get, so I asked Rabbi Wilhelm to bless the facility."
Moshe Wilhelm, who works next door at the Mittelman Jewish Community Center on Southwest Capitol Highway, informed Tieger that he couldn't bless the brewery unless it was kosher.
That set an idea fermenting. Tuck's, owned by the Cider Mill Restaurant, provided beer to the Mill and a few other local restaurants but was looking for new opportunities. The community center had recently built a new soccer arena but was without alcoholic libations. Tuck's master brewer saw a potential match. Making kosher beer, however, isn't easy.
Usually the first obstacle is a process known as "clear fining," which removes the sediment from the beer and involves adding gelatin, made from animal products, to the beer. But Tieger doesn't use gelatin, so that wasn't an issue.
The yeast, however, was. Most commercial yeast is made with animal digestive proteins to help the yeast propagate quickly. After much searching, Tieger discovered a fellow hophead who made yeast without the animal proteins.
Kosher yeast in hand, all Tieger has to do now is await the rabbi's blessing. And Shalom Stout and Oy Vay Alt will be coming soon to a Shabbat meal, or soccer match, near you.