Craft Beer and Kosher Concerns

In the craft beer explosion, there have arisen many questions when it comes to kashrut (kosher considerations) of beers out there. While beer, in and of itself, is not inherently problematic (in fact, the rabbis of the Talmud are more concerned with intermarriage than the inherent kashrut of the beer, itself, with gentile-produced beer), there are still many questions and potential concerns with craft beer.

Of course, one can find some beers that are certified as kosher (e.g. many beers by Sam Adams (by Star-K), many beers by New Belgium (Scroll K), and all beers by Shmaltz Brewing (KSA)), but other breweries and beers are not automatically non-kosher.
In fact, most beers will most likely not meet any problems for kashrut. However, there are many issues that do arise and can be potentially problematic.

What about beer with fruits added?

One problem that arises are breweries that are owned by Jews, yet do not sell their hametz on Passover, which would be problematic for those beers whose grains were owned by the breweries during Passover.

Another significant problem are beers with pork or shellfish in them, which are absolutely not kosher.

What about beers aged in wine barrels?

Here is a list of common kashrut issues with beer people may encounter:

      • What about beers that have fruit in them?
      • What about beers aged in wine barrels?
      • What about beer that have wine or grapes in them?
        • The Shulhan Arukh rules that wine is nullified in a 1:6 ratio, so one has to ascertain that there is not more than that ratio for it to be nullified (YD 134.5)
      • What about beers that have other adjunct ingredients [that are not fruits]?
      • What about the kashrut of lactose in beers?
      • Does adding lactose into a beer make it dairy?
      • What about other beer produced in the same brewery that are clearly problematic, such as involving oysters, clams, and/or bacon?

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