Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

Brian OíRourke is a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. He has served at Southern California several churches since he became a priest in 2011, and now assists at Saint Jamesí in South Pasadena. Brian brews his own beer.

This is Brian brewing with his brother. Brian is the one with the halo.

Brian was born in a small town in Germany, where his love of beer began in the womb. He soon moved back to the States, with his family, and grew up in Carmel Valley, California. When he was a boy, his grandfather had a small winery named Domaine de Clarke. Brianís first job, at age 11, was a Cellar Rat in his grandfatherís winery. By the age of 13 he had been promoted to become a Hose Dragger.

Working with his grandfather has been the greatest work experience of Brianís life.

Brian left home to attend Menlo College in Atherton, where he earned a Bachelorís degree in business administration. After college Brian moved to San Francisco, where he had a successful sales career. He also met and married Jenny, the love of his life.

Brian and Jenny moved to Los Angeles in 2004. While participating in a small group and preparing for Jennyís baptism, Brian felt called to become a priest. After attending seminary in Virginia, Brian was ordained as a priest. After the birth of their daughter, Maggie, Brian and his family returned to Los Angeles.

Brian recognizes that growing up in a winery skewed his appreciate for what he now understands to be the greatest drink ever-- beer. His early affection for beer, through college and in his early 20s, was focused on Sierra Nevadaís Pale Ale.

Brianís true love of beer exploded when he met Jenny. On their third date, they went on a picnic to a park that did not allow food, so they ate lunch in their car in the parking lot. Jenny had secretly packed a bottle of Chimay Red with lunch. At that moment, Brianís life changed forever. His love of beer found new levels of depth and intensity.

Brian combined his childhood experience in the winery and his new love for beer, and soon began brewing his own. He describes the first beer he brewed as an amazing pale ale.

The brewing experience Brian enjoys most is brewing with family and friends. In seminary, he brewed with a close friend who is now a fellow priest. He is currently teaching his brother to brew. Brian believes the bond you build while brewing can never be broken.

Brian enjoys brewing new things. He is currently a hop head, but brewing different types of beer keeps him level-headed and trying new things. His current favorite beer to drink is Green Flashís Palate Wrecker, an Imperial Pale Ale which uses six pounds of hops per barrel. It has a huge malty flavor that adds balance to the overall taste experience. Brian is currently in the process of trying to brew something similar.

Brian has several favorite California craft breweries, and beers, including Green Flash (Palate Wrecker), Stone (Levitation), Ladyface (Chesebro), and Ballast Point (Sculpin).

In the last six months Brian has brewed a Stout, a Nut Brown, and a Dunkel.

Brian sees his own personal brewing production growing substantially over the next few years.

As Brian brews he listens to a variety of music, from hip-hop to classical. If he were forced to choose something to listen to right now with a great beer it would be Weezer's "Pinkerton" album.

Brianís food/beer pairing selection would be something he has grilled at home. He has mastered barbecued chicken, pork chops, pork loin, stake, flank stake, and salmon. He always include some grilled carrots, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, corn, or asparagus. Coincidentally, these all go really well with strong, hoppy beer.

Brian does not see a significant connection between brewing beer and being a priest, even with the long monastic tradition of brewing beer. He understands that the first monks who brewed beer did it not only to satisfy their own thirst, but also to raise revenue to pay for their contemplative way of life. Brian thinks it would be a wonderful experiment if more churches in financial distress were able to take advantage of a similar model today.

Brewing beer has taught Brian many lessons. The most significant lesson changing water into beer has shown him is quite simple: If you can dream it, then it is possible. Brewing beer is a dream come true for Brian. It reminds him never to give up.

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