With Passover passing, I’ve been asking is beer kosher? According to Chabad, while beer can be kosher, it is NOT kosher for Passover (Chabad-Lubavitch is a philosophy, a movement, and an organization). 

Today, to my knowledge, there’s only one brewery in the DC metro region making kosher beer: Jailbreak, in Laurel, Maryland. They have it simply because their beer is certified as such. But generally speaking, because most beer does not contain shellfish or pork, and is made with barley, a cereal grain, it is loosely considered kosher. However, beer with oysters would not be, as shellfish aren’t kosher.

Is this beer kosher? If it’s Jailbreak Brewing Company’s Vienna Lager, Feed the Monkey Hefeweizen, or Special Lady Friend hazy IPA, the answer is yes. “As a brewery, we are foremost kosher with respect to ingredient selection, but we also have an admiration for how thorough and encompassing cleaning regimens must be in order to be considered kosher certified. Ultimately, we have immense respect for the qualitative standards that maintaining kosher certification requires,” writes Jailbreak brewer Rob Fink. “Also, our inspection rabbi loves beer.” On a more serious note, “We have also had members of the local Jewish community thank us for making something they can consume, which is incredibly rewarding,” Fink adds. 

Rob Fink, Jailbreak
Rob Fink, Pic via Phil Runco

City State CEO James Warner says he doesn’t keep strict kosher rules at home but does generally adhere to what he calls “kosher style.” “For what my principles are, for the way that I think is the best way and the way that I want to make beer, we are a vegan brewery, so there will never be any lactose used in the beer, we don’t used processed food products, we’re not dumping chocolate chips or anything else that someone else has made into the beer…. it’s effectively kosher without having the actual hechsher, it’s vegan, never any dairy, so in certain ways even though it’s not officially so because all plant matter basically is kosher unless there’s been something in its processing, it’s effectively kosher.” He says he may pursue the certification in year three or four when the brewery is more established and has time to assess the cost and the practice.


Lost Generation’s head brewer/owner Jared Pulliam notes that while his beer is not certified kosher, his ingredients generally seem to fit the bill. Pulliam notes that he is certainly NOT certain of his beer’s qualifications, but that most of his beers are made with malt, hops, and yeast. He notes that his most common water treatment includes calcium chloride and calcium sulfate but that these ingredients list themselves as being kosher (mined in a kosher way without chemical additions in processing). While the stouts he makes with lactose may not qualify as kosher, he notes the one time Lost Generation brewed a Gose style beer, they used kosher salt. Lost Generation hard seltzers are all made with simple sucrose, or table sugar, and fruit puree so while not certified kosher the potential to do so is there.

“We don’t have any kosher certifications for our beer, but everything is kept kosher here,” says  Daniel Vilarrubi, director of brewing operations at Atlas Brew Works.

“Thus far all of our beer has only used pareve ingredients – no meat or dairy – and no shellfish either. All of our beer is also vegan (unless you consider honey non-vegan; my vegan friends have differing opinions on this). I’m not an expert but I believe that puts us firmly in kosher territory (albeit without official certification).” Here we’ll add that pareve means substances are edible because they contain neither dairy nor meat ingredients, vegetables and fruits are classified as pareve when neither cooking or processing alters their status

Villarubbi continued, writing the disclaimer: “I do want to stress that I am far from an expert in kosher diet. The above reflects my current understanding of kosher and vegan diets and I apologize if I got anything wrong.”

Bill Perry owner of The Public Option writes that they “don’t have a specifically kosher beer, mostly because we don’t have the expertise to assure that we are meeting the requirements.” But he thinks it’s a good idea and one he’d like to pursue at some point in the future. Elliott Johnson, owner of Soul Mega Beer, feels similarly.

The future of kosher beer in the DC-area may hold promise, but what about the past? Did a DC brewery make kosher beer before Prohibition? If I find out I’ll be sure to share with you, dear reader. Stay tuned for Kosher Beer, Part 2 next week.