Stop us if you’ve heard this one: A doctor, a lawyer and a rabbi walk onto a synagogue patio. They join a group of worshippers/home-brewers, and the first two men, Adam Weinstein and Aaron Perkins, present a problem. The Dos Equis knock-off they’re brewing for the Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism’s 1960s-themed 60th-anniversary party needs a name.
“Dos Aleph?” somebody pipes in, referring to the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
“Aleph looks like an ‘x’,” Rabbi Steve Gross says, confirming the genesis of the idea, before adding, “Dos Equis is one of my go-tos.” Blessed by the rabbi? The name sticks.
This is a typical meeting of Adult HeBrew (She Can Brew, Too), a year-old club that takes place at the temple. The group was Weinstein’s idea. He proposed it to Gross, who told him to go ahead—as long as he did all the organizing himself. Perkins, who’s been brewing at home for 15 years, also took on a leadership role, even offering up the pot he uses both for steeping grains and for frying turkeys.
The group’s projects have included drinks for special occasions including a roast of the rabbi where, appropriately, Perkins’s preferred fiery chile–infused brews took center stage: The exceptional Hay Dubbel Dubbel was flavored with habanero for a round mouthfeel, light sweetness and kick of heat. For an Irish-themed Shabbat dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, they brewed a dusky, lovably chocolaty stout and a light cream ale, which they combined into Black-and-Tans alongside a meal of corned beef, cabbage and bright-green challah.
While today’s patio group is all men ranging from their thirties to fifties, Weinstein says the age and gender mix is usually more diverse. He mentions one woman in her seventies who had never had a craft beer in her life. Since joining HeBrew for a tasting, she’s now well-versed in her favorite styles and orders beer when she dines out.
Whatever the brew, sessionability—low-alcohol content, allowing for the consumption of multiple beers in one sitting—is not a goal. “At the party for the rabbi, there were a lot of older people having the best time,” Weinstein jokes of their brew’s high ABV (alcohol by volume), usually in the 6 to 8 percent range.
But getting sloshed at temple isn’t the goal. As with everything else here, community is. Before the group began, Weinstein and Perkins were only acquaintances. Now that they brew together, they’re friends. Perkins, it turns out, has long made mead, also known as honey wine—the perfect complement to Weinstein’s hobby of beekeeping. Nobody seems to complain about those high ABV numbers, either.