Thursday, March 25, 2010

Community-Based Brewery

Just recently, I presented my second paper at SECSOR (Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion). The subject-matter dealt with the remaining Trappist monasteries that still produce and sell beer (quite a difference in direction, in comparison to last year's work on the religious dimensions of the Rainbow Gatherings). It was received very well, and I sparked much discussion afterwards. For those of you who don't know, the revenue generated by the remnants of this medieval tradition is to be either used by the monastery itself, enabling it to remain relatively self-sufficient, or donated and redistributed to various charitable efforts in the surrounding community. One of the things I addressed, however, was the reconcilement of monastic vows/lifestyle with their entrance into contemporary market economy. I did this by analyzing a particular theory of economy - one in which the welfare of others is taken into consideration, instead of simply one's own personal achievement and success. The extent to which these monasteries are successful, in terms of their brewing endeavors, is directly related to the health and happiness of those within their community and outreach. Compassion is a major player in this understanding.

"A lifetime without Love is of no account.
Love is the Water of Life.
Drink it down with heart and soul!" - Rumi

I got to thinkin' the other night, though. Why can't domestic microbreweries do this as well? What I mean is, or what I want to express, rather, is that they should. Breweries have been jumping on the global-issues bandwagon over the past several years (addressing and embracing things such as environmental issues, sustainability, etc.), so a non-profit microbrewery doesn't really seem all that farfetched. The start-up would certainly be an issue, but there are certainly enough resources that could be harnessed to facilitate that process (I envision various "sponsorships," of some sort...unless, of course, money isn't particularly an issue for those contributing to the founding of the brewery). Perhaps, one day, we may see things like this popping up around the country; there are certainly many areas and people who would greatly benefit from something like this.

Real quick - not to shortchange anyone waiting to hear about it, though - but I know I've been slacking on this thing (it's been what, since December or something since the last post, right?), and I probably shouldn't even be doing this right now either, with my workload looming in the back of my mind. BUT, I have been brewing since the last post. I have tried my hand in two different ciders since the end of the year: an apfelwein (German hard cider), that my wife and I made with cinnamon sticks for our friends and family this Christmas (which is delicious!), and a cranberry-apple cider that is still...well...getting "untarted" as I type. Wait..."untarted?" Yeah, well, what I mean is that it's overly tart still (about a month in the bottle so far, I believe). I think I used too much cranberry juice. It's good, but better served as an aperitif than as a session-drinker. I'm going to leave the realm of ciders for a bit, though. Next weekend I'm re-brewing my Serrapale Ale from last Cinco de Mayo, which was a big hit. Shortly after that (probably the summer), I'm going to experiment with my first sour too (a Berliner Weisse). The apfelwein is almost gone (a couple 22 oz. bottles left that we want to try at different intervals as it ages, and then three 12 oz. bottles that I'm going to toss into the next competition), but that lip-smacking cranberry will be around for a while (might even need to blend it if it doesn't mellow enough on its own). Below is a picture from when we opened our first bottle of the apfelwein (our one-year anniversary!).

Until next time (hopefully shortly after the next brew session)! And keep an eye on my Tumblr page too (I've been tossing some pictures and brief little blurbs about things on there between posts lately).

Here's to the next batch!

Peace and Love!