Jared Witt - September 17, 2018
It’s been a very, very long time coming. But it’s nearly upon us.
Right as our first batches are coming out of fermentation, Castle Church will be kicking off the life of our brewing community and celebrating the new home of our church in the only way we know how, with a Reformation Day Brewery Blessing.
When - October 28, 4pm to 7:30 pm
Where - Castle Church Brewing Community (6820 Hoffner Ave., Orlando, FL 32822)
What – A classic monastic brewery blessing with some Castle Church improvisations, complete with guided beer tasting, blessing liturgy, beer and hymns, and a catered dinner.
What you need to know – This a special celebration with all those who have supported and prayed for our development prior to our opening to the general public. Reservations are required. Follow this link.
The brewery blessing tradition dates to the early middle ages at least as far back as Saint Arnold of Soissons (patron saint of hop-pickers and brewers) in the 11th century. He is often depicted with a mashing rake, a tool used in the old brewing process. But his synonymity with brewing is not because he opened up a monastery with a brewery, which was very common, but is an homage to his wise action of saving many from his church as an epidemic swept through the region by telling them to drink beer instead of water.
The links go back even further still when he is sometimes confused with St. Arnulf of Metz in the 7th century. Though the latter isn’t primarily associated with brewing, perhaps the fact that one of the three miracles generally accredited to him is related to beer proves just how closely our favorite beverage, the monastery system in Europe, and the general wellbeing of the population were linked.
The story goes that on a very hot day in July 642 some parishioners from Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of a deceased bishop. They hadn’t packed adequate provisions for the journey, and it was getting pretty touch and go with the destination still a day and a half journey further. When things were at their most dire, one of the leaders prayed, “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnulf will bring us what we lack.” Suddenly someone noticed that the communal pot, which had held just a small remnant of remaining beer was suddenly filled to the brim. They passed it around until everyone’s thirst was quenched, noticing that it never seemed to run dry.
I have to chuckle to myself and think that only real beer lovers will get the true drama of that story.
In linking this tradition directly to a saint one risks lending it an air of the mythological. But in fact, this practice of monasteries saving their townspeople from plague by convincing them to drink beer shows up many times and quite matter-of-factly throughout European history. And there is significant historical reason to believe that higher proportions of towns with brewing monasteries survived various plagues.
But don’t think that, just because Orange County’s water supply is plenty potable and most of us are just a quick Lyft ride from home, that we won’t be taking our Brewery Blessing on October 28th with the utmost seriousness. Those who have already found our worshipping community prior to the brewery opening will understand that what we do is very much a matter of life and death. We know, for instance, that at Castle Church Brewing Community:
So perhaps the tradition of St. Arnold applies to us much more closely than you might think.
And so with St. Arnold and all the forgiven saints and sinners who have gone before us we will pray in earnest:
Lord, bless this creature, beer, which by your kindness and power has been produced from kernels of grain, and let it be a healthful drink for humankind. Grant that whoever drinks it with thanksgiving to your holy name may find it a help in body and in soul; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Cheers and Peace,
P.S. – Couldn’t get reservations to the Brewery Blessing? Come to our all day Grand Opening Festival Dec. 1, 11am – late!
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.