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Author:  Michael Makovi
E-mail:  mikewinddale@gmail.com
Date:  9/26/2011 11:47:00 AM
Subject:  Mead and beer
Message:  Hello rabbi.

I would like to ask please about kashrut of mead and beer, when there are no hekhsherim present.

First, mead: the following two websites say, "All mead require certification since most, if not all contain various kosher sensitive ingredients such as wine or flavors.":
(1) h_ttp://w_ww.kashrut.com/articles/liquor2/
(2) h_ttp://w_ww.crcweb.org/liquor_list.php

What would you say about that? Can I rely on the ingredients list? You can see a long list of many different varieties of mead, with a summary of the sorts of ingredients each one contains: h_ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mead#Mead_variants

Most of the mead varieties there are simply honey fermented in different styles (to bring out different types of flavors), but some of them have various herbs or berries or fruits added, which I assume is probably not a problem (but tell me if I am wrong, please). But the following varieties would surely be assur:
--- Mulsum — Mulsum is not a true mead, but is unfermented honey blended with a high-alcohol wine.
--- Omphacomel — A medieval mead recipe that blends honey with verjuice [ = very acidic grape juice made from unripe grapes]; could therefore be considered a variety of pyment [ = another type of mead; see below] (qv).
--- Oxymel — Another historical mead recipe, blending honey with wine vinegar.
--- Pyment — Pyment blends honey and red or white grapes. Pyment made with white grape juice is sometimes called "white mead."

But the rest of the varieties - except for those I just listed - seem to be composed only of honey and sometimes various herbs, spices, fruits, and berries, but not grapes or wine, contrary to the kashrut websites which said, "All mead require certification since most, if not all contain various kosher sensitive ingredients such as wine or flavors." (I suppose "flavors" could mean hops and vanilla and ginger and such, but those are hardly kashrut problems. "Natural flavors" on an ingredients list is a problem, I understand, because it might indicate something unkosher, e.g. civet, but if "ginger" or some kosher flavor such is explicitly listed under its own name, then I believe there is no problem, correct?)

So would it be safe to rely on the ingredients list, and drink uncertified meads, as long as no grape or wine (or other unkosher ingredients) is listed?

As for beer: I know that beer is definitely kosher as long as it contains only water, grain (barley, wheat, rye, oats, corn, rice, etc.), and hops. But what if it contains honey (which a few beers do), or various herbs and spices (which a few "winter" or "Christmas" beers do)? Can one rely on the ingredients list?

And perhaps to simplify your answer: is your answer the same for both mead and beer (since I asked basically the one, same question for both)?

Thank you, and sincerely,
Michael Makovi
Reply:  You can rely on the ingredients.
Don't forget, wine is Batel in 6 parts. (Not 60)

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