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There is a common custom I have observed to serve beer at a Shalom Zachor. This is also mentioned here with some speculation about the source.

What is the source for this practice?

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    Men liking beer, perhaps – yitznewton Jun 19 '15 at 14:08
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    +1 although I doubt this will get a scholarly answer. Its kinda like what's pshat in eating cheese cake on shvuos? Teretz is klal yisrael accepted the Torah, don't you think they deserve a piece of cheese cake?! – user6591 Jun 19 '15 at 14:11
  • OK, here's my crazy speculation - Years ago, only schnapps was served. The men who came to the Shalom Zachor drank too much schnapps and arrived home in a stupor to the annoyance of their wives and kids. Thus, while the hosts still put out a BIT of schnapps for minhag, beer became more prominent in the past 2 decades or so, as it is far less intoxicating. It's also far cheaper than single malts! If you like this comment, great, if not, I told you it was "crazy". But, think it through, a bit longer... – DanF Jun 19 '15 at 14:53
  • @DanF beer was probably more popular hundreds of years ago than it is now. It only relatively recently became less popular. – user6591 Jun 19 '15 at 15:01
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    @user6591, as that famous Mussar author Benjamin Franklin once said - Beer is proof that G-d loves us and wants us to be happy ;-) – Yishai Jun 19 '15 at 15:03
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There is an elderly Jew with lots of knowledge of tradition that I knew a while back. He came to the Shalom Zachor of my oldest son. There he said the reason for the custom is that Chickpeas were traditionally made with lots of pepper and were very sharp. Beer was served to cut the sharpness of the chickpeas.

I can attest to the sharpness aspect as I have occasionally been served the peppery chickpeas (not the bland American stuff that is popular today) at Shalom Zachors and they are indeed spicy. He was saying that this is the way chickpeas were served more commonly.

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  • Interesting. I understand the minhag to serve chickpeas. But why does it need a lot of pepper or any pepper? Oh, I know! Pepper is "pilpil" in Hebrew which sounds like "pilpul". I guess people are meant to be confused. So, having beer sets them straight ;-) – DanF Jun 19 '15 at 15:39
  • @DanF, I think his point was that was the way they were made. I don't think the pepper has any specific reason. Almost all chickpeas have pepper in them, that is a standard ingredient. Just much less these days. – Yishai Jun 19 '15 at 15:47
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    Almost all chickpeas have pepper in them, that is a standard ingredient - ??? Raw chickpeas have no pepper, and many people soak then boil them. AFAIK, commercial canned chickpeas also have no pepper, but I'm not 100% certain. At any rate, they are not "spicy", so a lot of extra pepper is added, for whatever reason. No matter, I like beer, but at most Shlomei Zachor I have attended, they have "dishwater" beer. Sorry, Millers or Bud doesn't do it. – DanF Jun 19 '15 at 16:37
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    @DanF, it's a borderline chillul haShem to serve rented beer at a zochor. We should serve good shtuff, serving a Bud is just not proper derech eretz! – Noach MiFrankfurt Jun 19 '15 at 16:47
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt - "rented" beer?? Don't you mean "rendered" beer? – DanF Jun 19 '15 at 17:05
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This article suggests

Perhaps the earliest mention of beer at a shalom zachor is by Rabbi Yaakov Halevi Lifshitz (1838–1921) of Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania, in his work Zichron Yaakov, in which he chronicles the life and history of Lithuanian Jewry. He describes how they would proclaim in the synagogue after Friday night services that “so and so” invites the congregation to a shalom zachor, and how at the shalom zachor they would serve different types of beans and beer, or a different “social drink” (chamar medinah).

There is room to speculate that we drink beer either because it is made from barley, which is round (like beans), or perhaps because at the shalom zachor, there is a custom that lighter refreshments (as opposed to a full-fledged meal) are served.11 Thus, we serve beer, which is considered less formal than wine.

You can read the Zichron Yaakov (1:22) inside here.

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