When Religion is in the Mix

There are few more dangerous waters for the Buzz to float down than mixing beer and religion. And yet, being the brave souls that we are, go there we must.

We can do that, we think, because we are a craft brewer. After all, we belong to an industry that has spawned such potentially offensive beer names as Arrogant Bastard Ale and Dead Guy Ale.

And, we are the guys that ran the “nice jugs” radio ads some time ago – we can’t imagine one of the big brewers going down that road.

But, beer and religion? Why not, since so many craft brewers use God to sell beer.

Look at Lost Abbey Brewing of San Marcos, California, as an example. They use a Celtic cross for a tap handle, and, at the Great American Beer Fest last October, a banner across their booth ‘Inspired Beers for Saints and Sinners Alike’.

The first craft brewer in Texas, who started back in 1994, was named St. Arnold’s after the French saint of brewers. Saint Arnold (580-640) urged his people “don’t drink the water, drink beer” because he believed water boiled to make beer was safer than the unboiled water. Now, St. Arnold’s has 21 fermenters at the brewery, each named after a different saint.

Then, of course, there is the Schmaltz Brewing Company, owned by a self-proclaimed passionate Jewish fellow, Jeremy Cowan. Schmaltz Brewing is known for its brands, which include He’Brew (the chosen beer), Genesis Ale (our first creation), Messiah Bold (the one you’ve been waiting for) and Jewbelation (L’Chaim).

At the Great American Beer Festival were, of course, T-shirts for sale. Four ex-Mormons took out a booth selling shirts reading “X-Communicated Mormon Drinking Team”. Their goal was to raise enough money to pay for the booth, plus their weekend in Denver (home for them was, perhaps with poetic justice, Salt Lake City in Utah).

Another T-shirt available from a different booth read, “WWJB: What Would Jesus Brew?” and had an image of a smiling Jesus with a mash paddle in one hand and a pint glass in the other.

It is interesting that much of this information was carried by the Associated Press and we read it in the Taiwan News.

Apparently, a certain Reverend Jim Sickmeyer also read it. Reverend Sickmeyer is the Pastor at the Worthington Baptist Temple in Minnesota and, after reading the AP article, he immediately penned a letter to the Worthington Daily Globe. In his letter, he notes that he was “appalled” by the AP article and called Lost Abbey Brewing “a blasphemous business”.

Well, I guess so.

We find it interesting, however, that the Bible makes reference to alcohol almost 250 times. By far, its use is most often mentioned as an accepted normal part of culture (58 times). It is called a blessing from God 27 times. There are warnings about its abuse 17 times.

At least, this is what our research has found.

Who knows, though, maybe this world has room for us all.

This column is courtesy of the Yukon Brewing Company, an organization that is doing God’s work.

Mark Beese is our co-publisher.

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