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DC Beer Week: Pints and Prayers

DC Beer Week: Pints and Prayers
Stacey Goers

I don’t like beer festivals, “special release” parties or anything that screams hey-there’s-gonna-be-a-big-crowd-of-people, even if there is really cool beer or awesome food or shiny things all over. Even though many of the DC Beer Week 2013 events sounded fantastic, I opted to avoid much of the clammer and just pick smaller, more personal events.

One such event which took place Monday evening stood out to me. First, it was affordable, at $30 a person, and proceeds went to charity. Secondly, it was at a restaurant that I’ve been to and really enjoy. And most importantly, it was called “A Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister Walk into a Bar.” Done.

My husband and I headed to the dark and cool Granville Moore’s on H Street in D.C. on Monday evening. Known for their delicious mussels, we have been to the Belgian gastropub a handful of times. Chef Teddy Folkman is a co-founder of DC Beer Week and is a culinary ambassador for Ommegang, whose beers were featured at the event. Ommegang’s Witte was placed down in front of us, we ordered some frittes, moules and a burger.

Now bring on God.

I am a Roman Catholic and have always enjoyed discussions of faith and theology. Bringing in beer — or really any alcohol — into the discussion intrigued me. I have shared drinks with a priest and clergy members in the past, so the concept didn’t freak me out. But it was interesting to me to approach beer as an element of faith.

Rabbi Eli Freedman, Father Kirk Berlenbach and Rev. Bryan Berghoef were the featured speakers and this wasn’t their first go-around at the event, coming off of Philadelphia’s beer week. Each man has used beer and beer drinking in faith outreach efforts. And it’s succeeded. (Obviously, these events have been social drinking and not endorsing beer as a solvent, method of escape or any negative use of the substance. No intoxication. Rather, just enjoying beer as it is.)

The small upstairs bar was packed with young professionals, older couples and even a baby who looked to be only a few months old. The discussion dove into scripture and religious texts, the concept of beer as a creation of God and what is and isn’t kosher. They touched on other faiths and the role of alcohol, how their parishes and communities reacted to their new beer events and what their favorite beers are.

But a prevailing theme from all three men was that sharing a beer with a fellow individual at a bar has significance. It’s a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of a shared experience. At bar stools all over the world, people expose their fears, their joys and really, bring others into their worlds. God can be — and should be — a part of that, they argued. Why not? Any truly deep discussion will likely turn to religion and faith and our purpose as human beings. Why not share a beer or two and start chatting about why we are here on this earth?

It was definitely a memorable event. (As was my first taste of Ommedgang’s Rare Vos amber ale.)

The speakers offered up some suggested reading for those interested:

Diary of a Part-time Monk: by J. Wilson

Confessions of a Bible Thumper: My Homebrewed Quest for a Reasoned Faith: by Michael Camp

– And Berghoef’s own, Pub Theology: Beer, Conversation, and God


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