The Tikvat Israel House of Blues was open for business one night only Sunday for drinking, dancing and socializing.
Rockville-based 7 Locks Brewing was on hand for a beer tasting before local blues band Bad Influence took to the stage to get people tapping their feet or up out of their seats. The social hall was decked out with a half circle of tables, leaving an open space for dancing. In the corner was a table to buy beer, wine and snacks. And along the wall was a table of guitars on display — a Rock Band game controller guitar, a few inflatable guitars, a ukulele and an acoustic guitar.
Part of the Year of Science for the Rockville Conservative congregation, the event was originally meant to focus on the science of brewing. But attendees were more interested in how the beer would taste than how it was made. So, Phoebe DeFries, the 7 Locks representative, introduced each beer with some flavor notes.
First up was the Snakeden Saison, a light summer beer, she said, in line with Blue Moon. Next, was the Redland Lager.
“It’s most compared to a much better Yuengling,” DeFries said.
Then came two ales — Surrender Dorothy RyePA and Devil’s Alley IPA — follwed by the brewery’s sour beer.
Tikvat Israel member Aaron Mannes is the congregation’s spirits expert, but put on his hops hat to explore the connection between beer and Judaism.
“What’s fascinating is not what the Talmud says about beer, but how little it says,” he said. “We know they had beer, but there’s so little mention of it.”
In the Middle Ages in Germany, Jews were forbidden from making beer. But they managed to get around that, he said, by essentially cornering the hops market. At its simplest, beer is made with four ingredients: grain, hops, yeast and water.
“Now, if you really look for it, there are some non-kosher beers,” Mannes said. “I think there’s a lobster beer — I avoided that. But in general, beer is kosher. And that’s pretty cool.”
A very unscientific poll revealed Surrender Dorothy RyePA and Redland Lager as the two favorites of the 50 people in attendance. The sour was less popular.
“I think everyone [at the table] agreed that the sour was an acquired taste,” said Dan Goldstein. His favorite was the Redland Lager.
He and his wife, Dianne Hirsch, found out about the event through friends and decided beer and blues were enough to get them out of the house.
“What else were we doing on Sunday night?” Hirsch said.
Others, like Glenn Areger were in it for the band. He’s neighbors with the drummer, David Thaler, who is a Tikvat Israel member. Areger makes it out to concerts when he can. (His favorite beer was Surrender Dorothy RyePA.) He revealed that one of the band members had forgotten his harmonica, but he had promised not to heckle them about it.
Tikvat Israel member Jeff Bernstein — a Devil’s Alley IPA fan — was drawn to event because it was unique and social.
“[It was] the combination of the beer and the music and people we like to spend time with,” he said.