Here's the shocker about last night's Shmaltz beer and Jewish foods pairing at Saul's Deli: It completely worked. As a deli purist who drinks only Dr. Brown's or plain seltzer with a pastrami sandwich and potato knishes, I was skeptical. Shmaltz's Zak Davis tells me he thinks younger Jews are getting into the craft beer movement, and that events like last night's might help turn them on to old-school deli classics. Conversely, he's hoping that Shmaltz's regular presence on the Saul's beer list will introduce traditionalists to multiple brews.
We started with a sliver of chef Jon Bradbury's house-smoked herring served on a Genesis Ale-poached potato coin, matched with a glass of the same ale. The herring was intensely smoky ― a good thing. Both in potato and liquid form, the crisp ale acted as a palate cleanser, meaning our second and third bites were as thrilling as the first. A hunk of Marin Sun Farms pot roast had a mellow nuttiness thanks to a braise in Messiah Bold Nut Brown Ale, which we drank alongside.
Jewbelation, Shmaltz's 14-percent ABV dark brown Chanukah ale, was so boozy and chocolaty a snifter of it would have sufficed for dessert. I found myself spooning into the accompanying chocolate bread pudding to cut the beer rather than visa versa.
Leaning into our table's conversation, an older gentleman with an untidy beard summed up the experience: "I'm a bit of a beer lover and a bit of an eavesdropper, and this meal was fantastic."