Have you ever wondered what beer from the Middle Ages might have tasted like? If you thought that wheat, hops, yeast esters, and barrel aging were modern craft beer trappings, you may be surprised to know that over 500 years ago the region of Einbeck, Germany was successfully producing a style of beer with a profile that could rival that of the best craft breweries today.
Brewers back then were mainly limited to the local ingredients and water profile of their region. Unfortunately the Einbeck style was lost when the region was decimated in the 16th century by a war, and the brewers left for Munich where the available ingredients and water profile of that region were combined to make Bock beer styles. One of Castle Church's flagship brews is based on this extinct Einbecker style that was famous over 500 years ago! Anyone who has read Martin Luther's Works or his Table Talks knows that he sometimes referenced or talked about beer. In some of his letters he actually described his favorite beer, which just so happens to be the famous Einbeck style that was so famously being cask aged and shipped all over Europe and the near East (unheard of at that time for any other beer style!). If you do wish to drink a beer similar to the one Luther famously enjoyed, Castle Church's All Saints Einbecker Ale is probably the closest you will come. It incorporates the historical grain bill ingredients and brewing methodology including several region specific top-fermenting strains of yeast, ferrulic mash rests, and fermentation techniques common to Luther's day. This care and focus on the traditional brewing practices at the start of the Reformation imbue complex flavors, attenuation, and a highly individual character; all in keeping with the beer that Luther loved to drink with friends and family.
Do you like modern American India Pale Ales (I.P.A.)? Most craft beer enthusiasts come across the IPA style early on in their beer tasting adventures and we wanted to offer the Castle Church community an IPA that would rival the best out there. Our Indulgences Double IPA Weighs in at 95 IBUs (bitterness units) in honor of Luther's 95 Theses. We've added triple the typical amount of hops for most IPAs, but have also added more malts to balance this big India Pale Ale. The resulting beer has huge hoppy highs and deep malty depths with a higher ABV to match. When Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-five Theses” on the All Saints' Church door in Wittenberg on All Saints Eve, October 31st, 1517, no one expected the breadth of reforms in Christian teaching and practice that followed. In every dimension of Christian faith a renewed trust in God’s forgiving mercy replaced a reliance on teachings and practices that, like the sale of indulgences, were vulnerable to abuse and corruption. Preaching, Luther said, “I opposed indulgences... but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I drank beer with my friends, the Word did everything.” Nearly 500 years later, the results of this evangelical confidence in God’s forgiving and liberating Word are evident today in Christian communities of all types. "Indulgences" seemed like a great way to tell this story over a good beer!
This week Castle Church is brewing All Saints Einbecker Ale and Indulgences Double IPA in preparation for our community's Craft Brew Day in July. Craft Brew Days are a time for folks to gather in community for food, fellowship, fun, and beer tastings. We also brew a batch of beer on the Castle Church pilot system which is a great way learn about beer and the brewing process. If you are in the area, we encourage you to check out our calendar on the Connect page of our website and follow us on social media for details about how you can join the fun! Everyone is welcome to be community together!
Grace and Peace,
Aaron Schmalzle is a mission developer in the ELCA and, along with Pastor Jared Witt, is a Founding Director of Castle Church Brewing Community and Castle Church Faith Community.
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