by Buck Reed
A Brief Conversation About Beer
For the record, I am doing almost no fact checking on this article. These are all thoughts and ideas from the Wise Beer Council of…..well, of just about anywhere they meet. Currently, they can be found at The Flying Barrel and the establishment next door, Monocacy Brewing Company on Market Street. I meet them on Thursdays and some Sundays when they go by the name of Wise Beer Council and some guy named Buck.
The members are Shawn, Harlan, and Dan Dan the Beer Making Man. All of them help out James at the Flying Barrel, where they guide the weak and weary through the process of making beer, wine, and, sometimes, mead from creation to drinking. Here are some of the thoughts we share with each other about beer.
I posed the question “why is beer food?” The thoughts were given by the group as follows. Shawn mentioned the idea that beer got us out of the Dark Ages. In fact, Saint Arnold, the patron Saint of Belgian Brewers, got us out of this plague-filled era by telling the people “Don’t drink the water, drink the beer!” (It’s actually better if you say it with a Schwarzenegger-esqe accent!) The monks actually brewed and drank a low alcohol beer that made those who drank it less susceptible to the plague.
Emily Lesho, the Tasting Room Manager from Monocacy Brewing Company, perhaps put it best. She said “Beer has food value, but there is no beer value in food!” Shawn, Harlan, and Dan all agree that there is nutritional value in beer and even explained that two beers will sustain for a days work. I might remind you that dock workers once had access to a keg of Porter.
My next thought is the religious and societal aspects of beer. All the ancient societies of the world made an alcoholic beverage of sorts. But, the funny part is that not one of these people attribute the creation of beer to one person, but considered it a gift from God, himself. And, given the time and the fragility of life and survival itself, they appreciated that all things were considered sacred. They had very specific rules on drinking alcoholic beverages. These rules were set up specifically to keep anyone from becoming a drunkard, which would upset the balance of the tribe itself. So, very specific ideas of when alcohol could be consumed were set in place and enforced.
As we grew into a civilization with cities and mass groups of people, beer led the way. The production of alcohol meant we needed to adopt sanitary practices, and, in turn, low alcohol beers gave us a water source that was healthy and pure. You don’t build pyramids on putrid water.
As society grew, so did our brewing habits, becoming more refined. What was once a household chore turned into a vital industry. Laws were made in Germany that governed how beer was made and what ingredients could be used to make it. And a guild of brewers was formed in Belgian, where only the animals drink water, that determined the process and ingredients that could be used to make beer. To join this guild, they made sure your family was in good standing, and if you went against the guild’s practices, you might well be burned at the stake.
If you find yourself needing a beer on a Thursday evening or Sunday afternoon, meander over to Monocacy Brewery or the Flying Barrel. See if you can sit at the Wise Beer Council Table and enjoy the conversation that is most certainly going to take place. We tend to laugh and enjoy the simple things in life. And, if Harlan, who never said a nice thing about me, is going to get a beer, ask him to bring you back what he is having!
Photo by Buck Reed
The Wise Beer Council: Shawn Brownson, Dan Furlong, and Harlan Howard at Monocacy Brewing.