Union Craft Brewing once again hosted Charm City Tribe’s Chanukah BrewHaHa on Wednesday, Dec. 28.
The event, which centered around a candle lighting that took place at approximately 9 p.m., brought in hundreds of attendees and representatives from nearly 15 area Jewish organizations vying to celebrate a sense of community for both Jews and gentiles alike while punctuated by a live DJ set.
The party-like atmosphere that took place throughout Union’s spacious parking lot and into the bar area and brewery itself was supported by local eateries The Green Bowl food truck and ice cream purveyor The Charmery.
“It’s all good fun however you look at it,” said David Chapman, co-owner of The Green Bowl whose mobile culinary unit was situated just outside of the entrance of the brewery doors. “It’s a good night and good for business, too. Nice and busy.”
Especially for the occasion, Chapman served different varieties of latkes ranging from a sweet potato with marshmallow fluff to one topped by chunky guacamole.
“We were wondering, ‘What’s missing?’ [from our usual menu],” Chapman said. “And [we] decided to bring in a Latin flavor to our latkes.”
Inside, the event space was packed with what was said to be 250 people according to Union co-owner Adam Benesch.
“Chanukah is a joyous holiday, and it’s fun seeing people celebrating in a creative way here, participating in different activities,” Benesch said. “There’s lots of cool things here.”
Activities around the large party space beyond the bar area ranged from the Pearlstone Center’s table, where one could make his or her own menorah from a large piece of bark and a selection of acorns as candleholders, to Baltimore Jewish Council’s rousing game of “Interfaith Jeopardy! hosted by ‘Alex Trebekowitz’” a play on TV’s “Jeopardy!” in which contestants were given answers to questions about interfaith marriage and culture.
Other local organizations offering refreshments, games and other activities included Jews United for Justice, JNFuture, FIDF, Etz Chaim and JHeritage, which supplied stuffing to be placed in empty teddy bears that, after completion, were sent off to sick children in the Baltimore area as part of the nonprofit’s philanthropic Kindness Initiative.
In addition to purchasing food at The Green Bowl and receiving a commemorative beer glass, patrons were able to sip on Union beer (including seasonal etrog-flavored Anthem) as well as try signature ice cream flavors from The Charmery — malty vanilla chip and sufganiyot, made just for the holiday.
“We’re in the middle of December … selling ice cream,” The Charmery co-founder David Alima said with a laugh. “So I just wanted to come and be a part of this; I don’t really think of it as something financial. We like to get out in the community and ‘shake it.’
“It’s toward the end of the year and a good time to get together,” Alima continued. “2016 was an amazing year in many regards, and our thought for 2017 is how to make Baltimore and Maryland better? I feel like events like this will make it better.”
Benesch said he’s enjoyed hosting the BrewHaHa at Union each year since its inception in 2013, although the brewery was unable due to a problem of space in 2015 when the event had to be hosted by the Baltimore Museum of Industry instead.
Having expanded the space of the brewery since that time, he was able to bring the BrewHaHa back to where it began.
“This is all about community,” said Charm City Tribe director Rabbi Jessy Gross, who organizes the BrewHaHa each year and referred to Union as her own personal “Cheers,” where everyone knows her and, she was sure to point out, everyone else’s name.
“If we’re doing this right,” Gross went on to say, smiling, “everyone here will feel connected. That’s the scene.”