Holy hops! Religiously-themed beers

Posted at 4:00 PM, Mar 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-29 16:00:22-04

Gouden Carolus Easter Beer

By Nathan Berrong

(CNN) — Today is Good Friday, a day on the Christian calendar that calls to remembrance the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. For Christians, this is a day of sorrow that is often marked with fasting and contemplation in order to bring a constant awareness of Jesus’ death. It marks the last days of the Lenten season – a time in the life of liturgical Christians who deny themselves of something for roughly 40 days as a penitence to Christ.

On Sunday, Christians all over the world will join together in praise marking the resurrection of Jesus and the beginning of the Easter Season, a 50-day celebration filled with feasting, or as my pastor puts it, “eating good food and drinking good wine and beer.”

That got me thinking about the Easter season in a totally different way. Although my faith is routinely being challenged and reworked, there are definitely things in the Bible I can fully commit to and support. Love God? Love your neighbor as yourself? Love your enemies? Turn the other cheek? Thou shalt not kill? Eat good food and drink good beer and wine as a way to celebrate the goodness of God? I’m totally on board!

The Bible is littered with verses that tell stories of God blessing his people in the form of abundant crops and wine to “make glad the heart of man,” as Psalm 104 so eloquently puts it. Similarly, food and wine were often used in the Bible as offerings to God, which shows just how valuable and important each of these luxuries were.

As the Easter Season approaches, I will be making a conscious effort to eat some great food and seek out some great beers. I’ve listed a few of those beers below, specifically, ones that have some kind of religious symbolism or background. Not to worry though, if religion isn’t your thing and Easter means a bunny hiding colored eggs, I’ve got you covered too.

Blessed Beers

Gouden Carolus Easter — The Gouden Carolus brewery traces its roots back to 15th century Belgium when Christian women were responsible for brewing beer and lived in communal settings known as Beguines. This beer, released once a year around Easter, is deep red in color and tastes of plums and licorice.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 13 — The Saint Arnold Brewery out of Houston, Texas, is named after the famous saint who is credited with saying two of my favorite beer quotes: “From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world,” and, referring to the unsanitary water of the time, “Don’t drink the water, drink beer.” The Divine Reserve 13 is a Quadrupel with flavors of dark fruits and hints of caramel and dark chocolate.

Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Saison — Sierra Nevada has collaborated with local monks on their Ovila series in an effort to create Trappist-style ales with American brewing techniques. The Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California, plays an integral role in each of the Ovila beers. This particular one, the Abbey Saison, contains mandarin oranges that were grown and handpicked by some of the monks.

Lost Abbey Sede Vacante — The name of this beer translates to “vacant seat” and was named so after Pope Benedict XVI resigned and the ensuing shroud of mystery associated with the Papal Conclave. Lost Abbey says of the beer: “The creation of the beer itself was veiled in secrecy; the formulation written on black papyrus was burned soon after completion.” It’s a beer aged in cognac and brandy barrels and clocks in at a whopping 15% ABV. As their tagline states, it’s perfect for “Saints and Sinners Alike.”

Bunny Beers

Alameda Bad Bunny — Portland, Oregon, is arguably one of, if not the best, beer cities in America. Breweries like Alameda and beers like Bad Bunny are why. This cream ale pushes the limits of the style raising the ABV well above it’s normal 5% to just over 8%. The beer is similar in taste to a Pilsner, but heavier and much sweeter, which is to say it’s awesome.

Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbit — Much like a rabbit that hops around, Pretty Things is known as a gypsy brewer, which “hops around” to various breweries and brews their beer on someone else’s equipment. This has become a somewhat recent trend in the craft beer world and one that has proven you do not need your own brick and mortar brewery to create quality beer. This Tripel-style beer releases every year around spring and is made with three different kinds of hops.

Three Floyds Rabbid Rabbit — Three Floyds beers are notoriously hard to come by, and Rabbid Rabbit is no exception. The beer releases once a year in the spring and is listed as a Franco-Belgian style farmhouse ale. The best saisons or farmhouse ales, are ones that perfectly balance the complexities of the beer like fruitiness with spiciness and sweet with dry. Rabbid Rabbit does exactly that and makes for an incredible beer.

I’ll close with a verse from the Bible that sums this all up quite nicely, Ecclesiates 9:7.

“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine [or beer!] with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.”

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