I didn't have a Bat Mitzvah when I turned 13, but if I had, I would've wanted it to be just like the one Shmaltz Brewing Company threw for its newest Jewbelation ale last night at Amnesia. (And yes, I just said that I wish my 13th birthday party had been at a bar.) The event, which replaced the spot's regular Tuesday program of open mic and Rock'n'Schlock karaoke in honor of SF Beer Week, was hilarious, fun, and exactly as tongue-in-cheek as you'd expect from a brewing company whose first beer (He'Brew) was the result of an inside joke between founder (and Bay Area native) Jeremy Cowen and his high school friends.
Highlights of the night included performances by Meshugga Beach Party, whose schtick is playing Jewish favorites like "Shalom Alechem" and "Ose Shalom" in Dick Dale surfer style (while wearing fake beards), and Sex with No Hands, a klezmer polka party band with nearly a dozen members and a range of danceable songs from covers like "Sunrise, Sunset" to originals like "Golden Showers" (yes, the latter's about what you think it is). And of course, as at any Bar Mitzvah, guests received commemorative yarmulkes (in either blue or maroon, with the Shmaltz logo on top and "This is not a frisbee" written inside).
Meshugga Beach Party played favorites from albums like Let's Go Shleppin' while Hebrew School alums channelled memories of Israeli dance class.
But this whole evening was really about the beer, a dark, complex, special edition brew that goes down deceptively and dangerously smooth at 13 percent alcohol. (Get it? Shmaltz has been around 13 years? The beer's 13 percent alcohol? It's called Bar Mitzvah?) In fact, it seems to be the quality of Shmaltz's beer, in addition to the label's sense of humor, that's responsible for its success (and especially so far beyond the demographic of Jews who love a good pun). Though there were certainly more members of the tribe in attendance at Amnesia than I've seen in one place since summer camp, there were plenty of goys also happily getting their drink on. And I expect the ratio will be even closer to 50/50 at Thursday's Beerlesque event at Paradise Lounge, which celebrates the return of Coney Island Human Blockhead with a night of burlesque courtesy of Hubba Hubba Revue.
1501 Folsom, SF