Beer instead of wine: The true tradition of Shavuot (2024)

Long before it became the "Dairy Holiday," Shavuot was a wheat festival. Weihenstephan brings Shavuot Fest—transforming the holiday into a true celebration.

Beer instead of wine: The true tradition of Shavuot (2)

Technically and officially, we are still in the spring season, but you don't need to check the weather forecast to understand that we are fully into summer. Our skin longs for minimal clothing, we move from the home's air conditioning to the car's AC, praying that no one turns down the office AC. From now on, we will only hear about heatwaves and wonder when the heat will ease, maybe in November.

But there is one excellent way to lower body temperature and minimize excessive sweating—a chilled beer on a hot summer evening (or during the day, we don’t judge, as long as you stay away from the steering wheel, okay?). Because it’s hot, we crave light dishes that won’t weigh us down, and Shavuot falls at the perfect time, especially compared to the heavy meals of Passover.

And what heralds the arrival of the holiday? The ads urging us to buy dairy products and prepare cheese-filled casseroles of various kinds. Some call Shavuot the "Milk Holiday," but wait a minute… Does the song "Our baskets on our shoulders, our heads adorned, from the ends of the land we came, bringing the first fruits" talk about cheese and yogurts?

We are not against cheese, quite the opposite, but the biblical reference to Shavuot is "Festival of the Harvest" or "Day of the First Fruits." The Festival of the Harvest because this is the wheat harvest period, and the Day of the First Fruits because, during the Temple period, the offering of the first fruits was brought. This offering was not an animal or even animal products but from the wheat that ripens at this time of year.

Beer instead of wine: The true tradition of Shavuot (3)
Beer instead of wine: The true tradition of Shavuot (4)

Germany has Oktoberfest, and we have Shavuot Fest

So, if you really want to observe the holiday customs, it makes much more sense to drink beer. While Germans have Oktoberfest, we have Shavuot Fest, celebrations held for the fourth year in a row, so we already have the start of a tradition.

This tradition was brought to Israel by a beer that should have the word "Tradition" stamped on its bottle—we are, of course, talking about the beloved and ancient German beer Weihenstephan, which comes especially to help you observe Shavuot traditions. The brewery was established way back in 1040, celebrating 984 years of operation—the oldest active brewery in the world.

For the Shavuot Fest 2024 celebrations, Weihenstephan brings us a special limited edition: Kristallweissbier, a 5.4% alcohol wheat beer in the clear version of the popular wheat beer, with a delicate fruity aroma and sweet wheat flavors. Fresh citrus scents and fine banana notes are also noticeable in the taste. And the appearance? Fresh Kristallweissbier poured straight into a glass looks like glowing deep gold, sparkling in the glass.

“But wait,” someone among you might already be starting to write an angry comment, “Cheese goes with wine, what are you bringing me beer for now? The writer knows nothing!” You'd be surprised, with the right cheese, pairing it with beer, especially German wheat beer, is actually more natural than with wine, mainly due to their acidity differences.

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Weihenstephan Beer with Aged Cheeses

German wheat beer in general, and Weihenstephan beer in particular, is well-suited to our summer due to its flavor profile that floods and refreshes the mouth. And when the holiday table is loaded with different types of cheese, Weihenstephan’s high carbonation washes the palate between cheeses, giving each cheese its full due.

We recommend pairing Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier, a refreshing and clear wheat beer with a slightly fruity and spicy flavor profile, with aged cheeses or goat cheeses. The sharp and creamy nature of fresh goat cheese blends well with the bright characteristics of a clear white beer. The slight acidity of the cheese complements the beer’s fruity notes, creating an especially delightful culinary experience.

Similar to goat cheese, the fruity texture of feta cheese and its salty and spicy flavor work well with the particularly delicate bitterness of the beer. Cheeses like Camembert or Brie also match the delicate fruity notes of Weihenstephan. If cheese and fruit-based desserts are served at the holiday table—it’s a truly winning combination.

Here’s another tip for the advanced: Weihenstephan beer is also great in recipes. On the Weihenstephan website, you’ll find no-knead beer bread recipes by Keren Agam, which go great with the cheeses and are perfect for those who don’t want to bother with a mixer. There’s also a recipe for stuffed onions by chef Omer Miller that will elevate the holiday table, and more recipes from food bloggers and online personalities like Daniel Amit, Hen Koren, Ben Ishai, Shahar and Oren, and the blog and cookbook author "Queen of the Kitchen" Yonit Zuckerman. Just reading them makes us hungry.

Four Wheat-Based Flavors

Weihenstephan's clear beer joins three other types available in Israel, all wheat-based, with more than 50% of the brewing done with wheat:

Hefe 5.4% alcohol, the traditional light-colored beer with a thick foam head, tempts us with aromas of clove and delicate banana that rise through the delicate bubbles and captivate the senses.

Hefe Dunkel 5.3% alcohol, a dark beer with creamy foam that appears when poured into a glass. The beer has a refreshing fruity sweetness with touches of banana and caramel that complement the delicate malt aromas.Vitus, a powerful 7.7% alcohol beer, light with thick foam and aromas of dried apricot, banana, and spices, is perfect with strong and blue cheeses.

In conclusion, Shavuot, long before it became the dairy holiday, is first and foremost the wheat holiday, and it’s lucky that Weihenstephan’s clear wheat beer is here to help us fulfill another mitzvah. With its impressive history and unique fruity flavors, this beer turns every holiday into a real celebration. When planning your holiday table, remember that Weihenstephan is the natural choice for Shavuot, with flavors that go great with cheeses and fruit desserts. Enjoy drinking (responsibly!) and happy holidays!

In partnership with Weihenstephan

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Beer instead of wine: The true tradition of Shavuot (2024)


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