Considering that James just wrote our first post on Pipe-tobacco smoking, I figured that it was about time to write our first post on the glories of Beer. We have posted a little thing here or there, but for the most part we have not done anything approaching our typical post; too long, too much information, too much blowing smoke up our own asses. A conversation the other night at a Hooka-bar revealed that even some Theophiliacs still need a crash course on that malted alchoholic goodness, the king of all beverages…Beer
This series will be divided into multiple parts, todays post will discuss how beer drinking fits into our Christian faith, and will finish with a simple explanation of what beer is. The next post will move onto a description of beer kinds and styles. I am not yet sure if a third post will be necessary.
Turn with me in your Bibles to John chapter 2, verse 10. We here have the host of the Wedding in Cana complimenting Jesus on account of the excellent wine which he just made from some water. Most translations wuss out and have him say something like “once the guests have had too much to drink.” But the verb μεθυσθωσιν , refers to being drunk, a woodenly literal translation would read “[after] having been made drunk.”(3rd plu, aor,pas,subj.) So we see here, Jesus making wine for some wedding guests who are already a bit off. In fact, the speech by the host seems almost exactly like the tipsy speech of a best man if one were to take away years of Wesleyan/Puritan reading of the passage. By my reading then, and taking into account the whole Gospel tradition, Jesus blessed wine at the wedding, he drank it frequently with sinners, and passed it on in command via the blessed Sacrament of his blood. Ergo, we are commanded by Jesus to drink wine; and beer has about half the alcohol content, so we should drink twice as much beer as we do wine.
So too, The Apostolic Canons (51) say: “If any overseer, priest or deacon, or anyone on the priestly list, abstains from marriage and flesh and wine, not on the ground of asceticism (that is, for the sake of discipline), but through abhorrence of them as evil in themselves, forgetting that all things are very good, and that God made man male and female, but blaspheming and slandering the workmanship of God, either let him amend, or be deposed and cast out of the Church. Likewise a layman also”
So there it is, Scripture and Tradition, plus my own Reason and Exstensive experience demand that we drink beer. And if one should insist that beer is bad, they are blasphemers whose eternal salvation is at risk and they should be cast out of the People of God in order that they may amend.
Now it may be that when you started drinking beer you did so at a young age under peer pressure. You likely only drank beer to get drunk and that beer was probably a domestic lager. I could name them, but it really doesn’t matter; they are essentially the same exact yellow bubbly poor tasting water posing as a beer, just sealed in different twist-toppy bottles. It is possible that from years of use you have been able to convince yourself that you actually like Miller Lite.
Much like someone with an addiction issue, the first step is recognizing that you have a problem. What you need is a transition beer. You need a beer which is well crafted and mildly complex which will not terrify you so as to take your taste buds to the next level. Now, since I do not know where all of you live, it is absolutely imperative that you ask your beer snob friend to point you in the right direction. A bartender can work as a backup. If you live in the Midwest I would recommend what has become a standard “transition” beer for countless people of Scandinavian or German descent, Summit Extra Pale Ale. Any Pale Ale, Extra Pale Ale, or Brown Ale usually works quite nicely.
What is Beer again?
Beer can encompass many different forms of fermented beverages, but at its foundation it is malted barley, hops, yeast and water.
The primary grain used in the making of beer is malted barley. To malt the grain is just to soak the grain in water until it begins to germinate. This releases certain sugars hidden in the grain which will be food for the yeast to turn into alcohol.
The malted grain is then roasted. These various kinds of roasts give the beers their unique colors and flavors. They can go from very light to pitch black.
There are several other grains that are used for different kinds of flavors and feels. Oatmeal, Rye and Corn are just a few.
Hops are a flower which is dried and added at different points in the boil to add flavor, aroma and bitterness. Some Scottish beers will substitute heather for hops.
These little guys take all the lovely sugars in the boiled beer and converts them to alcohol. They make the magic happen. Yeasts themselves have unique flavors and so even the right choice of this humble ingredient can drastically affect the final taste.
First, milled grain, or grist, is soaked by water of one or various temperatures until the water is a sort of malty syrup. This process is called “mashing” and the now sugar-laden liquid is called the “wort.”
The wort is then separated from the spent grains and is moved into a vessel for the boil. While the wort is boiling, hops are added. Different kinds are put in at different times to yeild the desired results. Various additions of spice, orange peel, or fruit can also be added, depending on the syle.
Once the boil is accomplished the wort is chilled to whatever temperature is appropriate for fermentation. Once cooled and in a fermenting container, yeast is added and the beer will ferment for about one month. When that time is over many beers are filtered, or at least the yeast is separated, and the beer may age for another secondary fermenting period or it may be bottled. Many craft beers, once bottled are infused with another bit of yeast and the beer will age and even carbonate in the bottle. This is called “bottle conditioning.” Crappy beers will often simply be bottled and pasturized, thus rendering the beer much crappier than it could have been. But at least it can sit around until a frat party can make some sad use of it. Now some craft beers are pasturized, but they will expire and must be drunk before they go bad.
Continue to Part II