Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson
realized the other day I spend quite bit of my time thinking and
writing. As I thought about it, it seems to me there are two things
I think, and write, about more than anything else.
First, I write a blog on the Contemplative channel
Three times a week, most weeks, I write about exploring and
practicing spiritual life and spiritual leadership.
Second, I write this column on craft beer
and brewing in DaBelly.
I love craft beer and brewing. There is
nothing quite like visiting a brewery or tasting room for the
first time. Meeting and talking with brewers and other people with a
passion for craft beer is a blast. Even sorting out all the ins and
outs of where craft brewing is going can be fascinating.
As I thought about it, I began to wonder why
these two subjects were so important to me.
People have asked me how and why I wrote
about both of these things. It was a challenge for them to see the
connections between spiritual life and brewing beer.
I have written about the monastic
contributions to the history and current practices of brewing. There
have been times when I pointed to craft brewers as examples of
entrepreneurial, pioneering leadership. Of course, I also take a
great deal of joy from both spiritual life and beer.
As I spent some time reflecting I began to
remember what had drawn me into my love for craft beer in the first
I am passionate about an excellent porter or
stout and appreciate a good IPA. It is not, thought, primarily about
the taste of the beer for me.
The people who share my enjoyment of craft
beer also draw me in, but my commitment is not essentially even
For me, loving craft beer is about where
craft brewing coincides with spiritual life.
There is something deeply spiritual about
drinking great beer with close friends. The beer helps us slow down
and take time to reflect. We can stop rushing to analyze and
categorize everything we see. Deep friendship allows us to be honest
with each other.
We sit drinking together and we tell each
other the truth. No individual among us is required to answer all
the questions or take responsibility. We share what we have
experienced, telling our stories and rolling great tasting beer over
What is the spiritual life of beer,
the soul of brewing?
How are spiritual life and enjoying
great beer connected?
Those are the kinds of questions I want to
be thinking and writing about here.
I decided to take a step forward in this
direction by taking a step back. I interviewed Rev.
Brian O’Rourke three
years ago in the June,
2015 issue of DaBelly. Brian
is an Episcopal priest who enjoys brewing and drinking great beer.
When we talked a few years ago we touched on
how he came to appreciate craft beer and brewing at home. We even
thought about churches in financial need brewing beer the same way
Brian and I talked again recently about some
of the insights and questions we have gained over the last few
years. I learned Brian has not increased the amount of beer he is
brewing, as he expected, but is brewing less.
Our conversation covered many aspects of the
relationship between spiritual communities and beer. We talked about
what “drinking responsibly” really
means, especially in the context of community.
What responsibility do those of us who enjoy
great beer have to other member of a community who may deal with
addiction? How can we drink responsibly?
What are the differences between drinking
responsibly and refraining from drinking altogether?
We talked about how members of monastic
communities, for example, can live honorably with other members who
may not be able to drink responsibly.
It is not that Brian appreciates beer less,
but actually that he appreciates it more.
Brian has taken conscious, intentional steps
to clarify the ways spiritual life for him relates to drinking beer.
He has focused his attention on drinking beer he loves, drinking
less beer which is outside his attention. His approach to beer has
become like a spiritual discipline for him.
Brian is letting go of some beers so he can
deepen his enjoyment of beer he really loves.
There are many ways beer can connect to
spiritual life for us. I look forward to exploring how beer can
deepen and strengthen the spiritual life in us.
Greg Richardson is a spiritual leadership
coach and spiritual life mentor in Pasadena, California. He is
passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic
life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university
professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and
he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk.
You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.