Beer | Crafted: Beer+Faith+Community

The pastor of a small church plant in Missoula, Montana discovered small, unmet needs in the community around him; shoveling snow for those homebound, helping relocate those caught in an abusive relationship, being community for those without community. But the work needed support to continue. What better way to raise support than by brewing a specialty beer? A beer for the common man. A beer fit for community involvement.

This is the story of a beer that brought a community together. (2013)

How Beer and Football Became a Part of Thanksgiving Day

 

This Thanksgiving as millions of Americans settle into a turkey-induced afternoon coma, others will push aside their plates and prepare to partake in that other great American Thanksgiving tradition. The tradition that I speak of is not honoring the memory of the Pilgrims or thanking God for his blessings, although those are also important. The tradition that I speak of is football and beer.

Thanksgiving football games, paired with a cold amber, ale or lager, are a longtime American tradition. In fact, this tradition has its roots in history that predates even the first Thanksgiving turkey. Thanksgiving beer and football goes all the way back to Samoset and Squanto, the Indians who befriended the Pilgrims and taught them how to survive through the harsh New England winters.

On March 16, 1621, an Indian wearing only a loincloth walked into the Pilgrim settlement at Plymouth, Mass. The book, “The Light and the Glory” by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, tells what happened next.

“Welcome!” he suddenly boomed, in a deep, resonant voice. The Pilgrims were too startled to speak. At length they replied with as much gravity as they could muster: “Welcome.”

Their visitor fixed them with a piercing stare. “Have you got any beer?” he asked them in flawless English. If they were surprised before, they were astounded now.

“Beer?” one of them managed.

The Indian nodded.

The Pilgrims looked at one another, then turned back to him. “Our beer is gone. Would you like … some brandy?”

Again the Indian nodded.

The beer-loving Indian was Samoset, one of the few Indians in the New World who spoke English, having learned the language from English fishermen and explorers who visited the New England coast. Samoset soon returned and introduced the colonists to Squanto, another English-speaking native.

Squanto was alone in the world. He had been captured by Captain George Weymouth about 1605 and taken to England, where he spent about 10 years. After returning to North America, he was captured by another Englishman, Thomas Hunt, and sold into slavery in Spain. He escaped and returned to his home in 1619, only to find that his entire tribe, the Patuxets, had been wiped out by smallpox.

His meeting with the English gave Squanto a reason to live. “These English were like little babes,” according to “The Light and the Glory.” Squanto taught them to plant corn, catch fish and “helped in a thousand similar ways, teaching them to stalk deer, plant pumpkins among the corn, refine maple syrup from maple trees, discern which herbs were good to eat and good for medicine, and find the best berries….”

It was the Pilgrim gratitude to both God and Squanto that inspired the first Thanksgiving feast. The joyous celebration lasted for three days. It is truly miraculous that the Pilgrims, thousands of miles from England, would encounter two Indians who spoke their native language and who would take the time to teach them to survive in their new home.

If beer was present (or at least sought) at the earliest Thanksgiving, football came a little later. President Lincoln declared the first fixed Thanksgiving holiday in 1863 and the first Thanksgiving football game came only six years later.

The Philadelphia Evening Telegraph chronicled a Thanksgiving Day football game in 1869 between the Young America Cricket Club and the Germantown Cricket Club. This game came only six weeks after the Rutgers-Princeton game that is widely considered to be America’s first football game.

Yale and Princeton played Thanksgiving Day games from 1876 through 1881 according to Wikipedia. In 1882, the Intercollegiate Football Association began holding a championship game in New York City on Thanksgiving Day. By the time the NFL was organized in 1920, football was already a Thanksgiving staple.

Thanksgiving is properly a day to reflect on God’s blessings. We are truly fortunate to be heirs to the religious liberty sought by the Pilgrims and to live in this land of plenty. But as you celebrate God’s gifts, don’t feel guilty as you enjoy a football game. And if you want to have a Thanksgiving beer, consider raising your glass to Samoset and Squanto, without whom the story of the Pilgrims might have ended very differently.

BrewBrawl Week 7: Eagles vs Cowboys

Welcome back, BrewBrawl fans!

Hard to believe it’s already Sunday. Of course it’s always painful to think about starting the work week all over again tomorrow morning. But thankfully, we still have one more night to kick our feet up and enjoy ourselves. So, let’s not waste any time and get straight to the good part– Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys.

[Rules Refresh: Based solely on name and/or label appearance, a craft beer is assigned by me to each team. The matchup’s will reflect the two teams playing Sunday Night Football that week. Thus, all post-season playoff games and championship rounds are TBD.]

Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys

modus-hoperandiModus Hoperandi, Ska Brewing Company
[IPA] 6.8% ABV
88 IBU
Strong citrus aromas followed by pine rise from the glass. As it moves across your tongue… bitterness… following close behind is a melding of citrus and pine with light caramel sweetness.

 

scape-goat-beer2Dallas Cowboys: Scape Goat Pale Ale
Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula MT [English Pale Ale, EPA] 5.0% ALC
40 IBU
Vague hops, toasted malt, with notes of caramel and citrus. Refreshing light body and slightly dry finish, making it extremely drinkable.

 

For anyone keeping score, only one of these beers is making it’s BrewBrawl debut… And WOW did it make an amazing first impression! As you may recall, I have my gripes with Scape Goat, but absolutely none of them apply to Modus Hoperandi. In my opinion, Ska Brewing Company brewed up the perfect example of what a hop-heavy IPA should taste like. A new favorite, for sure.

WINNER: Modus Hoperandi/ Philadelphia Eagles

Be sure to check back next week for Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders…

 

BrewBrawl Week 5: Colts vs Texans

Hard to believe but Sunday night is here once again. Which, luckily for me, means it’s time to crack-open a couple more craft beers… Ahh, where does the time go anyway?

As many of you already know, this week’s matchup is Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans. And, although I am a bit embarrassed to admit it, there’s probably not two other teams in the entire NFL that I know less about. But this is BrewBrawl, not Football– and thankfully I can say with confidence, I do know my beer.

And knowing my fellow beer lovers, with that, I’ll skip right to the good stuff. Let the BrewBrawl game begin!

[Rules Refresh: Based solely on name and/or label appearance, a craft beer is assigned by me to each team. The matchup’s will reflect the two teams playing Sunday Night Football that week. Thus, all post-season playoff games and championship rounds are TBD.

Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans

hhg-apa

Indianapolis Colts: HHG Americana Pale Ale
Central Waters Brewing
[American Pale Ale] 5.3% ABV
IBU unknown
Surprisingly fresh with crisp bursts of mango, dank hops, and well-balanced malt flavor. Soft, moderate bodied and not too sweet with slightly dry, bitter finish.
 

burton-baton-2Houston Texans: Burton Baton
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
[American Double/Imperial IPA] 10% ABV
70 IBU
Very aromatic with nuanced flavors including malted caramel, toffee, and a trace of warmth. Thick bodied, perfectly aged with a deluxe and smooth bourbon-like finish.

This was the toughest match-up yet. Both brews were extremely enjoyable to drink, and wonderful examples of precisely what craft beer should taste like their respective categories. One downside to Burton Baton is the price tag, costing more than $10.99 per four-pack. That said, ultimately I had to base my decision on the only attribute I could identify which set these two competitors apart from one another: Burton Baton may be the best tasting, most drinkable American double/Imperial IPA that I have had to date. (with sturdy 10% ABV, no less!)

WINNER:  Houston Texans/ Burton Baton

Be sure to check back for next week’s BrewBrawl matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs Arizona Cardinals…

 

BrewBrawl Week 4: Giants vs Packers

Another great autumn weekend, another amazing opportunity for two of my favorite things–
football and craft beer!

This Sunday’s matchup, New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers, has all the makings of a very interesting game. While both are recent Superbowl champions, the 2016-17 season is off to a rocky start, with both unexpectedly defeated by the injury-plagued Minnesota Vikings.

As for their respective brews, I am anxious to see how this week shakes-out. While ‘The Creature” Black IPA had been drafted for the Packers in week 1, one of my go-to American Pale Ale’s was absolutely the perfect fit for the Giants… So, without further delay, lets play BrewBrawl!

[Rules Refresh: Based solely on name and/or label appearance, a craft beer is assigned by me to each team. The matchup’s will reflect the two teams playing Sunday Night Football that week. Thus, all post-season playoff games and championship rounds are TBD.]

New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers

dales-pale-aleNew York Giants: Dale’s Pale Ale
Oskar Blues Brewery
[American Pale Ale] 6.5% ABV
65 IBU
Assertive but not overpowering. Medium bodied, prickly, slightly resinous with lively carbonation. Easy to drink with a clean finish.

the-creature-web1Green Bay Packers: The Creature
Urban Legend Brewing Company
[Black IPA] 8.5% ALC
85 IBU
A sturdy dark, malty flavor with rich, fruity hop aftertaste. Creamy, medium body making it easy to drink.

While it is clear these two beers could not be more different, the authentic deliciousness of ‘The Creature’ Black IPA was far-and-away the star of this game. Don’t get me wrong, as previously stated, I frequently buy and enjoying drinking Dales Pale Ale; especially when I am entertaining and want a reliable, middle of the road American Pale Ale option for my guests. And still it’s clear, ‘The Creature’ is not your typical beer, but the stuff of champions.

WINNER: Green Bay Packers/ The Creature

Please be sure to join me next week for: Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans…

 

BrewBrawl Week 3: Chiefs vs Steelers

Welcome back, beer lovers!

This week’s highly-anticipated matchup is: Kansas City Chiefs vs Pittsburg Steelers

Before kickoff, I must admit– I am very excited to try these two brews. Unlike last week, I enjoyed a variety of brands to pick from, and therefore could draft the most enticing options for each team.

[Rules Refresh: Based solely on name and/or label appearance, a craft beer is assigned by me to each team. The matchup’s will reflect the two teams playing Sunday Night Football that week. Thus, all post-season playoff games and championship rounds are TBD.]

Now let’s play BrewBrawl!!

Kansas City Chiefs vs Pittsburg Steelers

ale-to-the-chiefKansas City Chiefs: Ale to the Chief!
Avery Brewing Company, Boulder CO
[Imperial IPA] 8.1% ALC
70 IBU
Brewed only in election years, referred to as “Presidential Pale Ale” by brewery. Starts off as smooth, malty backbone, with hints of light toffee, as well as citrus and floral notes. Medium body, finishes warm with bitter, spicy hops.

krank-label-1Pittsburg Steelers: Krank Shaft
Metropolitan Brewing, Chicago IL
[German Kolsh] 5% ABV
28 IBU
Clean, crisp apple and citrus flavors with underlying tones of malt, grains, and sweet honey. Light to medium bodied, with faint hops and tart fruits in the finish. Overall a refreshing, great example of the Kolsh style.

As expected, both team brews in this week’s competition scored extremely high. Ultimately, it came down to a technical foul against ‘Ale to the Chief’ for mistakenly marketing this microbrew as an “Imperial IPA”  While surprisingly tasty, it is a bit too sweet and too malty compared with other brews belonging to this category. To make matters worse, their website unsuccessfully rationalizes this mischaracterization as: “Originally brewed to celebrate Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009. We elected to give ‘Ale to the Chief’ a second term to commemorate the 2012 election!​ ​Not an “Imperial” pale ale, this is a democracy. It’s Presidential!”

Err… well, considering that same twice-elected inaugurated president has worked tirelessly to earn the label of “the Imperial President,” along with his tenure being widely-hailed as the “Imperial Presidency,” I’m not sure the folks at Metropolitan Brewery could’ve been more wrong? In any event, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were sampling too much of their great tasting products for the last 7+ years.

WINNER: Pittsburg Steelers/ Krank Shaft

Be sure to stay-tuned for next week’s matchup: New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers…

 

 

BrewBrawl Week 2: Bears vs Cowboys

Happy weekend, beer fans!

This week we have an exciting match-up: Chicago Bears vs Dallas Cowboys

And while they may be two of the most widely-known NFL franchises, finding their corresponding ‘team beer’ based solely on packaging was a bit difficult this week… You would think there’d be at least ONE beer label with a bear on it somewhere in this relatively trendy liquor store!?  Nevertheless, I am confident you’ll quickly figure-out why I picked these two intriguing craft brews.

[Rules Refresh: Based solely on name and/or label appearance, a craft beer is assigned by me to each team. The matchup’s will reflect the two teams playing Sunday Night Football that week. Thus, all post-season playoff games and championship rounds are TBD.]

Now, without further delay– let’s play BrewBrawl!

Chicago Bears vs Dallas Cowboys

imperial-mugshot-logo3Chicago Bears: Imperial Mugshot
Myths & Legends Brewery, Westmont IL [Brown Rye Porter] 9.1% ALC
70 IBU
Smooth, dark-roasted start with hints of coffee, chocolate, dark cherry and dry spice note on finish. Noticeable kick, yet shockingly drinkable
 
scape-goat-beer2Dallas Cowboys: Scape Goat Pale Ale
Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula MT [English Pale Ale, EPA] 5.0% ALC
40 IBU
Vague hops, toasted malt, with notes of caramel and citrus. Refreshing light body and slightly dry finish, making it extremely drinkable.

As someone who enjoys, but seldom drinks the darkest varieties of beer, I was very pleasantly surprised by ‘Imperial Mugshot.’ Despite it’s strong alcohol content and robust flavor, it’s uncharacteristically easy to drink. With ‘Scapegoat’ on the other hand,  I found myself re-checking the label before being disappointed with the lack of that hoppy twinge one expects from a typical Pale Ale. To be fair, I later learned from their website that it is described as a “Classic British Pale Ale with a Montana flare.” In that case, it’s not a bad-tasting beer, but I would suggest they inform the buyer upfront, as the current packaging seems misleading.

WINNER: Imperial Mugshot / Chicago Bears

Be sure to check back next week for: Kansas City Chiefs vs Pittsburg Steelers…

Let’s Play… BrewBrawl!

We’ve all skimmed those bland reviews for appealing craft beer. But in the midst of 2016 politics, it only seems fitting to trash convention and embrace the outlandish— well, at least for the remainder of football season.

Therefore, with exceeding eccentricity, I am honored to present the first official season of “American BrewBrawl!”

The rules are simple: Based solely on name and/or label appearance, a craft beer is assigned by me to each team. The matchup’s will reflect the two teams playing Sunday Night Football that week. Thus, all post-season playoff games and championship rounds are TBD.

So without further delay, let’s play to this week’s BrewBrawl Matchup!
(Sorry fans, but I’m still in the process of recording the theme song.)

Minnesota Vikings  vs. Green Bay Packers

beard-of-zeus3Minnesota Vikings: Beard of Zeus, Short’s Brewing Company
[India Style Pale Lager, aka IPL] 5.3% ALC
82 IBU
Adventurous flavor profile of hops, honey, and lemongrass. Medium body, not too sweet with a light, lingering bitterness.

the-creature-web1Green Bay Packers: The Creature, Urban Legend Brewing Company
[Black IPA] 8.5% ALC
85 IBU
A sturdy dark, malty flavor with rich, fruity hop aftertaste. Creamy, medium body making it easy to drink.

This was a very heard decision as both are great beers in their respective categories. What ultimately tipped the scale towards Beard of Zeus was the unusual hop-quality coupled with ease of drinkability.

WINNER: Beard of Zeus / Minnesota Vikings. 

Stay tuned for next week’s matchup: Chicago Bears vs. Dallas Cowboys…