Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Confession...

I'm not a good Lutheran.

All this talk about "beer" and male bonding at the White House over a beer has made me ponder my own iniquity as a Lutheran.

I have maybe consumed a half-dozen beers in the past year. I have a little fridge in my office that has beers in it from last year's Oktoberfest. Wait, we didn't have one last year! Those beers must be going on two years old. I wonder if they're bad...

See what I mean?

I had a beer with my dad once (when I was maybe 25 years old) at the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio Oktoberfest. I was pretty proud of myself for getting more than halfway through the plastic cup. My poor Pop!

In fact, I was not converted to beer-drinking until seminary. We had a custom known as Gemuetlichkeit - a German word that means "goodtimeliness" or some such. It is the German version of the Cajun: "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" ("Let the good times roll!"). Every Friday after Vespers, we had a couple of kegs from Mad Anthony's, a local Fort Wayne microbrewery. Seminary students, their wives, and professors would drink beer and talk theology for hours. It was great fun, edifying, and became like another elective class. It also provided opportunities to get to know the men we would be serving with as parish pastors. And it did, as I said, bring me to a conversion of sorts.

But since leaving seminary, I have backslidden into my old Baptist ways.

But then I saw this beer. And, being a traditionalist Lutheran and a student of the French and Latin languages, I had to buy a sixpack and try it. After all, it is Belgian, it comes from L'Abbaye de Leffe, and the beer dates back to "Anno 1240" - which is actually older than the Heinekens in my fridge.

It's a lovely beer. I don't have the technical vocabulary to explain what it tastes like, so I'll just say that I really like it, and you can try it for yourself. If you want an expert review, here is one.

You can read more about it here. The remarkable (and tragic) story of the Leffe Abbey and its tumultuous eight centuries of monasticism and beer can be found here, in this series of short online videos. Pilgrims and tourists can visit the Abbey, and more information is available here.

But even if you can't make a journey to Belgium, you can still vicariously take part in the Abbey's rich history by ordering yourself a Leffe.

As part of my penance, I'm trying to be more vigilant in upholding our Lutheran traditions...


Mason said...

A delicious Belgian Abbey.

I would likewise recommend Chimay (red, white, or blue), Maredsous, Orval, or Duval.

Some think I joined the Lutheran confession because of theology (silly rabbits, as if Lutherans still believe such things!), but the freedom to enjoy beer was the true reason. There is my own confession.

I have other recommendations...

Bryce P Wandrey said...

I have to admit that I find Leffe a bit too sweet.

Chimay is good but they are a little sweet as well.

On a hot summer day, try a Hoegaarden. A white beer. Belgian and very nice. Throw in a slice of lemon.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

My one friend who isn't a big beer fan is a huge Leffe Blonde fan - which he found when he was actually in Belgium for an international Marimba contest.

Leffe is a sweeter beer (as are most of the Belgiums), in fact they are too sweet for me, generally. However you should look around at the other Belgian beers if that is what you like.

You also might like to try one of the Lambics - especially Lindeman's. They are Belgian beers that are fermented by wild yeast (that's what makes a lambic), but many of them have wonderful fruit infusions. My wife loves the Framboise.

I will hold nothing against you for this - but it explains that random utter lack of virtus that you occasionally demonstrate. I thought it was just you being a southern "gentile" girlie-man - but it's probably this. >=o)

Anonymous said...

Father Hollywood,

Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest you say??

Good grief, here I am a Lutheran living in the Cleveland-Akron area and I was not even aware of the Cuyahoga Falls Oktoberfest ??

That's just plain wrong!

On the other hand, I do recall the wonderful aroma of beer at the Benedictine Abbey of Weltenburg in my native Bavaria. Those monks knew how to brew a decent beer!


Phil said...

I'm practically in Cuyahoga Falls, but I hadn't heard about the Oktoberfest yet.

Leffe is good, but a bit sweeter and not as deep as the Trappist brews. I'm a snob when it comes to beer, so the Belgians I prefer are Chimay Blue, St. Bernardus Abt 12, Rochefort 10, and Koenigshoven Quadrupel. Gulden Draak, Kwak, Maredsous, and Golden Carolus Grand Cru are also good. Anyone try the Ommegang brews?

Maybe one day I'll make it to Westvleteren; they're the only one out of the seven Trappist breweries that doesn't export.

Father Hollywood, I've never met you but I ran into someone up here who said she knows you--an Anglican Catholic in my choir.

Christine, if I may ask, what church do you go to? I was at St. John in South Euclid, and now I'm at Grace, Akron.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mason:

You're welcome to weigh in with recommendations at ay time!

Dear Bryce:

I have had Hoegaarden. Those white wheaty beers really are unique. I've also had Stella Artois - but it was so long ago that I don't have any lasting impressions about it. Great idea about the lemon! Another use for the tree outside.

Dear Eric:

Thanks for the info. As far as I can tell, I am all Gentile. But then again, I have not been able to trace the genealogy back to Old Testament times...

Dear Christine:

I think this year's is the 30th. It is held at the little mall by the Cuyahoga River (do they still have Rockin' On The River?). Maybe the Oktoberfest isn't that big a deal - but I actually have an old t-shirt from the CFO in 1985 (I think it is). They also have an Italian festival with really good food.

Dear Phil:

Gads! That will take me a couple years to get through that list! I'm certain my Anglican Catholic friend is from St. Mary's. They are a wonderful small, very traditional parish. Their pastor, Fr. Joe DeHart and his wife Edie, are dear friends. When we visit, we are treated like we are members of the parish. There is a nice couple that we know from our visits: Matt and Elisabeth. I think both of them are Ph.D.s.

Wow! Mention beer and the traffic goes crazy. Maybe I'll have one of those Leffes today.

Anonymous said...

Christine, if I may ask, what church do you go to? I was at St. John in South Euclid, and now I'm at Grace, Akron.

Hi Phil!

I pass St. John's in South Euclid many times!

My parish is Bethlehm LMCS, Parma, Ohio. An LCMS mission parish is available very close to where I live but unfortunately it has more of an American evangelical culture, describing itself as offering "modern" worship so I have to drive about 15 minutes to get to the one in Parma, which is hardly a sacrifice.

Father Hollywood, thanks for the heads up about Cuyahoga Falls! I'll have to do some sleuthing on that!


David Clapper said...


I've had several of the Ommegangs, I don't really care for them. They're ... edgier, I guess, than real Belgians.

My current Belgian preference is Corsendonk Blond ... put it in a chalice and let it warm up a bit, you get a nice flowery aroma.

But then my current beer of choice is Brooklyn Brown ...