So ... it is Easter weekend. The beers we'll be reviewing this weekend are all kinda Easter themed. It wasn't too difficult an effort. Now, what many may not know is that this weekend also commemorates Passover. This year, the Passover Seder meal was celebrated Friday evening, and the first day of Passover is today - Saturday. Beer at Easter? Sure if you so desire. Beer on Passover? Nope. Not gonna happen. One of the ways the Jewish people mark Passover is by eliminating leavened foods from their meal tables for eight days. Leaven is yeast. There is yeast in bread and most baked goods. Jews don't eat bread at Passover. There is leaven or yeast in beer. Jews don't drink beer during Passover. Basic and simple. Beer is fermented. But by that same token, wine is fermented, so why is it permitted to drink wine on Passover when it is fermented with yeast? Well ... the Passover prohibition only applies to yeast which is a product of wheat, barley, oat, spelt, or rye. The yeast which is the product of grapes, or its sugars, is not considered leavened food. OK. So where is this all leading? There now is a beer that can be enjoyed at Passover by observant Jews. The Ramapo Valley Brewery people report: "Ramapo Valley Brewery New York was established in Hillburn, New York in 2000. The company was the result of a small micro brewery that first started brewing in 1997. "Their unique brewing process and recipes, along with the use of the valley spring waters, resulted in award winning beers. Over the next three years , the demand for their beers grew at such an astounding rate that the founders, decided to make the transition to a formal brewery, and Ramapo Valley Brewery was born. "RVB is the only Kosher certified brewery in the United States , and certified to produce Kosher for Passover beer." Bingo!!! The company notes, "Our blue ribbon Honey Beer, the Passover Honey Lager is a unique honey-based, gluten free, brew using dedicated equipment that insures the integrity of the beer. People with celiac sprue who normally cannot tolerate glutens in their diet can enjoy this brew without any risk of discomfort. "Nevertheless, the great, refreshing flavor can be enjoyed by anyone. This innovative brew is made with neither barley, nor wheat. "The main fermentable is amber honey. Molasses is used for flavor, nutrients and color. Bright golden in color, the taste naturally has notes of honey and hop. Noble hops add a touch of bitterness to balance the honey sweetness. "This beer is Kosher certified for Passover." And there you have it. Not only can good Christian folk continue to enjoy a good beer at Eastertime, but now good Jewish folks can enjoy a brew at Passover as well. Whatever your persuasion, enjoy the holidays. BIG BAD BAPTIST EPIC BREWING CO. SALT LAKE CITY Big Bad is a beefy Imperial Stout with quite a kick. This wonderful brew pours black. No nuances here. Just black. There is a thick head of good tan foam that really contributes to the scenting process. At first whiff, there is simply a blast of coffee scent and a very, very strong background base of roasted malts. There are definitely hints of chocolate and the expected caramels. There also are strong and definite tones of boozienss. This brew has a rich and luxurious aroma. No doubt about it. The first wash is heartily true to the scenting - a strong coffee presence. In the background, a wafting wash of vanilla is revealed supporting the layers of caramel. There is a strong sense of bourbon. Big Bad is very defined, but exceptionally balanced. This brew is simply jam packed with flavor. Much more expressive and demonstrative than anything I've had recently. SHORT'S CAROB STOUT SHORT'S BREWING CO. BELLAIRE Short's Carob is a wonderful example of what inventive people can do with quality ingredients and a huge dose of enthusiasm. Carob pours very, very dark brown - not quite black. There is a darkish beige head that lingers just enough to be of good use during scenting. There is a strong sweetish tinge to the first sniff. The carob aroma is very evident. The smell is pretty exclusive. There isn't a lot of mystery to this brew despite the fact that the main ingredient - carob - is pretty unique. I love the slightly sweetish first wash. It isn't too overwhelming ...too cloying. There is a certain hint of mildly herbal background as the beer washes around the mouth. IT is surprisingly hoppy for this type of brew. (When I write that, I don't mean this is a hoppy beer. It's just that for an American Stout, there is a degree of hoppiness that is not expected.) I love the carob, and the well roasted base. Frankly, this is one of my favorite "specialty" beers. I love the fact that some guy woke up one night and said to himself, "Carob! That's what we need ...!!!" Short's Carob Stout is a great way to both experience and share a sense of the adventure that goes into brewing beer.