Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pastors and Missionaries and beers oh my!

There's an interesting discussion on beer and Christianity over at the beer philosopher's blog all stemming from an article by Doug Giles over at TownHall.com entitled, Jesus, Beer and Your College Kids. He touched on many of the same points I tried to in my little blog series on beer and Christianity, please check it out and provide feedback if you missed it...

The timing of this article and related discussion are both relevant and ironic for me. I grew up in a very religious family, filled with ministers, missionaries and highly active church goers. Beer was something only to be enjoyed secretly behind our parent's backs, and God help you if you got caught! You wouldn't see a cooler of beer at Grandma's family gatherings, it was an unspoken taboo, something you wouldn't even think of. (Although rumor has it, her home made root beer may not have been as innocent as one might think... Interesting...)

Over the years we've all grown apart, either moving to different states or just getting tied up in our own lives. My father and my brother's family came "home" for a visit, to meet my new born son and have some fun. I took their home coming as an opportunity to have a family reunion for those of us still living withing the state, in the form of a back yard picnic. I even invited a couple of the pastors from my church. My brother and I had a discussion before hand regarding the beer issue, would this be a dry gathering?
My father, who did not drink when I was growing up was concerned, what would everyone think? Our conversation gave me an idea...

A social experiment
I decided to run a social experiment, and mixed some beers in with some bottled water in one of the coolers at the gathering. I didn't make any grand announcements about beer being available, I figured I'd just wait and see what happened.

I'm happy to say that it went pretty well. There was no mass exodus by my aunt's and uncles who were Reverends and retired missionaries, nor were there any condemning speeches given on the evils of alcohol by any of the Pastors from my church. (Actually, my pastor is very cool and has expressed interest in trying some of my home brew.) In fact, folks mostly ignored the presence of beer in the cooler all together. One of my cousins jokingly offered my aunt (a retired missionary) a beer, and her response was a friendly chuckle. Other than that, the beer went unnoticed and untouched. That is until a brave soul finally rose from is lawn chair and grabbed a bottle of brew from the cooler. I couldn't resist myself, I called out to my cousin and said, "Finally a brave soul! Let me grab you a 'church key' for you!" (Maybe 'church key' was a bad choice of words. Oh well...) And then I joined him and had a beer, and my brother wasn't far behind me.

After that others started going for the beer as well. Now don't get me wrong, the party didn't turn into a beer fest nor did I want it to. Only a small percentage of my family drank the beer, but all in all, it went well. A few folks enjoying beer responsibly along side non-drinkers, all of which shared the Christian faith. I knew everything was going to be OK, when I saw one of my aunts with a beer in hand, something I never thought I'd see. I jokingly commented, "Hey if you're having a beer, I guess this is OK then?" We even discussed my home brewing adventures and her wine making attempts. I asked her husband (my uncle) about his mother's (my dearly departed Grandma's) infamous root beer. Apparently there may have been some truth to the legend.

Later that week, I enjoyed a few beers with my Dad at a local bar and grill. Something I always wanted to do. We've had a beer or two together at my brother's house in the past, but I always wondered what it would be like to sit at a bar and have an open conversation over a few pints with my Dad. It was pretty cool! We swapped war stories, and he told me about some of the beer he had in his youth serving in South East Asia as a US Marine. He even helped my transfer my home brew to the secondary that week... Good times...

Reflecting on my youth
Growing up, alcohol was taboo, my family did not drink, and I held off from drinking until my freshmen year of college. I will admit, just as
Doug Giles suggested, I jumped into drinking head first in those early college days. But over time, I matured and developed a healthy respect for alcohol and myself. I owe my current healthy views on drinking in part to the strong moral foundation my Mother and Father provided me. Without that moral compass, I'm not sure where I'd be in life, and that's something I feel should not be discounted.

The next generation
My wife and I have already talked about how we will raise our new born son and what we'll teach him about alcohol. Our plan is to lead by example by enjoying what we view as God's gift to us in the mature, healthy and responsibly way in which it was intended. I even plan on brewing root beer (not Grandma's recipe mind you) with my boy, when he's old enough. I think learning about brewing has helped me refine my views on alcohol, and I think root beer brewing, and eventually beer brewing might help him as well.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this... Please feel free to leave a comment or share a similar story if you have one...


  1. Your comment about the root beer reminds me of an old recipe I saw for homemade root beer a while back. Pretty simple stuff, really, but the kicker was that in order to carbonate it, you added yeast to it (and we all know what that does). Admittedly, if prepared according to the instructions, the amount of alcohol that yeast could have produced would have been minimal, maybe .5%. But if left out? Maybe not served right away? Left in a cellar for a while?

  2. LOL! Too funny... I actually would like to brew a hard root beer some time, not for my son mind you, but just for the novelty of it...

  3. Congratulations on having the courage to serve beer to your family. I can talk about being brave, but I still haven't been able to enjoy a beer with my family around.

    One of my good homebrewing friends has been talking about brewing a real root beer with real sasparilla root. The FDA does not allow sasparilla to be used in commercial products because it is carcagenic. Never mind that black pepper is equally carcagenic... Anyway, it sounds like it could be very tasty and a lot of fun.

    Last year Sam Adams put out a four pack of beers based on colonial American recipes, including a Ginger Ale and a Root Beer. The Root Beer had a very strong and complex flavor. It was interesting, but I didn't talk to too many people who could drink an entire 12 oz.

    Homebrewing with your son sounds like lots of fun!

  4. One of the things I've had in mind for down the road is making a hard root beer and a hard ginger ale some time, beyond the soda I want to make with my son. I just think the novelty of it all would be entertaining.

    Thanks for the kind words regarding my family and such. The best part was the "guy time" with my Dad...

  5. I've greatly enjoyed the posts. I'm a Roman Catholic, so it's an entirely different ballgame. Very interesting to see how these things are handled in other denominations.

  6. Thanks Anon... Glad you enjoyed them... how are they different for you as a Catholic?

  7. I am enjoying your blog! I always find it interesting when "Christians" say that you can't drink. The Bible doesn't say that, is clearly states "no drunkedness". I love beer, but I know when to stop. Home brewing is fun, like any hobby. But it can't rule your life. Great Blog!!! Thanks... Tracey : ) http:www.QuickHomeBrew.com

  8. Thanks for the kind words Tracey...


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