Octoberfest and the Art and Science of Beer

Today is September 30. Which means that tomorrow is October 1. Which means – in case by now you’re wondering – that Octoberfest — which oddly enough starts in late September — is well underway.

Yes, yes, I realize that many may wonder what beer has to do with the Christian faith, but did you know that beer contains xanthohumol – an incredible cancer-fighting antioxident? (Of course, you’d have to drink about 118 gallons of beer a day to get any significant benefit.)

Okay, only slightly more seriously, beer and the religion have been intertwined for centuries. The Sumerians, who are credited with first fermenting beer, sang their recipes as hymns to Ninkasi, the god of beer, and the Vikings believed in Heiorun, a divine goat whose udder produced unlimited beer. In the Christian tradition, monks throughout Europe nearly perfected the art of brewing beer in the Middle Ages in large part because beer was a more trustworthy – as in cleaner – beverage than water. Not to be outdone by monks, Martin Luther’s beloved Katie was esteemed for her skills as a beer maker (or would that be mistress).

My favorite beer quotation? Martin Luther, talking about the power of the Word to create the Reformation: “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything” (LW 51:77).

If you’re at all interested in beer, whether as an art, science, or religious practice, you might find the following video about Charlie “the Pope of Foam” Bamforth interesting. Charlie, is the head of Malting and Brewing Science at the University of California at Davis. Enjoy!

Note: if you are receiving this post by email, you may need to click here to watch the video.