Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
What would Jesus brew? Lots, beer makers say
First Published Mar 26 2012 03:56 pm • Last Updated Mar 26 2012 03:56 pm

Wilmington, N.C. • All this talk of beer was making the former seminarian thirsty.

"Cheers," said assistant brewer Christopher McGarvey, taking a sip from his pint of golden ale. Then he continued his lecture on the history of beer in ancient Samaria to a crowd of about 90 on the third floor of this city’s Front Street Brewery.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

McGarvey is a recent seminary graduate, a cantor at St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church and the brains behind the "What Would Jesus Brew" class each Tuesday evening in March.

The class is part of a yearlong Heavenly Homebrew Competition of Churches for Charity. It will culminate in church teams brewing individual beers for a fall event benefiting Lower Cape Fear Hospice & Lifecare Center in Wilmington.

McGarvey said the competition is about learning how to brew beer in the context of how the drink was used historically in the church. All in moderation, of course.

Officials at hospice said it’s the first time any group has held a beer-brewing competition as a benefit for them, and the charity is grateful for the donations.

Church teams have witty names such as "The Hopostles" and "Brew Unto Others," said Jeffrey Hughes, a team leader for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. McGarvey picked clever scriptural references for the title of each class such as "Treasure Hidden in a Field: Barley, Hops and Brewing Basics" or "In the Beginning Was the Wort: How to Start Brewing in Your Kitchen."

Teaching about the importance of grain to early beer makers, McGarvey said, "It became clear early on that God gave us barley to make beer with."

Though competition organizers extended the invitation to a variety of denominations, you won’t find any area Baptists or Methodists — many of who abstain from alcohol. The 10 church teams so far are Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal, Lutheran or Unitarian.

Religious groups don’t have to view alcohol as 100 percent negative, said the Rev. Richard Elliott, of St. Andrew’s On-the-Sound Episcopal Church.


story continues below
story continues below

"It’s like a joke I once heard about when some western parts of the state were voting on liquor by the drink," Elliott said. "A man says to this woman: ‘Well, you know Jesus turned water into wine.’ And she said, ‘Yes, and I’ve always thought the less of him for it.’ We believe that all God’s gifts are good in their proper place and used properly."

The brewery is marketing the class as teaching participants how to "brew great beer and raise money for hospice, while embodying a historical Christian attitude towards the moderate use of alcohol as a blessing from God."

As McGarvey talked, team members from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wilmington sniffed plastic ramekins on their table of toasted grains labeled Pilsner, Munich, Carafa, Caramel, Cascade, EKG and Saaz.

McGarvey quoted St. Boniface telling villagers to drink beer instead of water for hygiene reasons in sixth-century Germany, "which might be shocking if someone in the clergy started saying that today."

From a pastoral perspective, Elliott’s one critique was the timing of the class — smack in the middle of Lent.

"It seemed a little odd to me because Lent is supposed to be a lean time," he said. "You’re learning about brewing of the beer and Christian history. They say you should take something on for Lent, but we are in a fairly fatty and rich environment while we’re learning about it."

After a pause, he added: "I guess we’re taking on beer for Lent."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.