ASK FATHER: Of brewing beer, beery prayers, and blessings

Bridgeman; (c) Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

From a reader…

I recently took up homebrewing as a hobby. Are there any traditional prayers, say from monastic brewers, that I can pray while I enjoy my new hobby?

I’m reminded of the old chestnut about whether it is okay to smoke a cigar while praying the Breviary.  Maybe not, is the answer usually given.  But it is okay to pray the Breviary while smoking a cigar!

I think there is a prayer that runs something like, “Our lager, which is in barrels, hallow be thy foam….”, or words to that effect.

It seemed proper to consult an expert, so I wrote to the Benedictine monks at Norcia, who are making splendid beer.  The brewery managing monk himself wrote back:

Dear Fr. Z,

Thanks for your email. We don’t do anything fancy. We simply use the blessing in the Roman Ritual. Sometimes too, while one of us is brewing, we may be praying the Divine Office in the brewery.

I hope you enjoy the beer! [I do, and so do my priest friends.]

So, in answer, I don’t think there are any specific prayers for the brewing of beer.   If you don’t say the office, you might say the Rosary and other prayers as you work.

There is, however, the blessing of beer in the old Rituale Romanum which a priest can impart.

When your brew is true invite the priest over to pray over it.

V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus.

Benedic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisiae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi, et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti; ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corpus et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R. Amen.

Or else…

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Bless, + O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

And it is sprinkled with holy water.

And may I remind all of you that the Benedictine Monks in Norcia, Italy, are recovering from a terrible series of earthquakes? They could use your support and you could use their beer! Everybody wins (except Satan).

Finally, may I note that International Buy A Priest A Beer Day went unobserved by all of you readers?  Tisk tisk.

It isn’t too late to make amends.

 

Please share!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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13 Responses to ASK FATHER: Of brewing beer, beery prayers, and blessings

  1. Art says:

    Qui bibit, dormit
    Qui dormit, non peccat
    Qui non peccat, sanctus est
    Ergo qui bibit, sanctus est

  2. aquinas138 says:

    I like the traditional Orthodox/Byzantine Catholic prayers before and after work:

    BEFORE ANY WORK:
    O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the eternal Father, Thou hast said, “Without me you can do nothing.” In faith I embrace Thy words, O Lord, and bow before Thy goodness. Help me to complete the work I am about to begin for Thine own glory: in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    AFTER ANY WORK:
    Thou, O Christ, art Thyself the fulfillment of all good things! Fill my soul with joy and gladness, and save me, for Thou art all merciful.

    Or simply make the sign of the Cross and say, “Lord, bless.”

  3. Agathon says:

    There are a couple of saints who watch over brewers, both known for their advocacy of drinking beer while serving as bishops: Arnulf of Metz and Arnold of Soissons.

    Arnold of Soissons is a patron saint in particular of Belgian brewers. I pray to him when brewing a batch of beer, many of which tend to be of a Belgian variety. The latest was a dubbel I bottled last week that I hope will help keep me cozy during those long winter nights.

    I have read that Augustine and Luke the Evangelist are likewise patrons of brewers. So far I have stuck to Arnold and Arnulf with my petitions.

    We recently had my parish priest over for dinner and I learned that he has blessed beer in the past, including some produced at a monastery. I showed him my beer closet, and all parties agreed that he ought to come over again in the near future to bless my beer and receive some to take home with him.

  4. iamlucky13 says:

    Art beat me to it, but I might as well still add a link to the fancy version:
    Qui bibit, sanctus est

  5. Father Seraphim Beshoner, TOR at catholicunderthehood.com does have a podcast describing the prayer for the papal blessing of beer. It is a few years back in his archives, but it is certainly worth a listen.

  6. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    My pastor JUST blessed my fermenter on my brew day this past Saturday..

    Father you are an ossified manualist: my pastor and I had a discussion on this issue. Modern understanding of what makes “beer” actually “beer” is the mingling of water, malted grains, hops (or an equivalent bittering agent), and the pitching of yeast (S. Cerevesiae). AlcoholI fermentation is the potential thing when these 4 are mixed.

    As the blessing made reference to “cerevisiae” and our understanding of beer requires pitched yeast, we felt that he couldn’t bless it as “beer” until the fermenter had cooled and I had pitched the yeast. We didnt think waiting until actice fermentation was visible wiuld be necessary, but this is the active proof of fetmentation i suppose.

    Is my understanding anachronistic since they may not have even known what yeast were when the prayer was originally penned? I’m curious about your views on the timing of the blessing…

    P.S. I have some Birra Nursia on hand for brew days. ;)

  7. FrankWalshingham says:

    As wise old Ben Franklin once said: “Beer is proof that God loves man and wants us to be happy!”

  8. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Sorry for the misspelling, typing on a phone…

  9. Alanmac says:

    The other side of this article is the devastation alcohol does to Catholic families. Alcoholism has affected every parish, and along with other drugs, must be considered one of the top three problems in our lives today. I know my parish sponsors an AA night and can refer to appropriate rehab centres. A doctor told me to look at older men’s legs when wearing shorts, if they have no hair on them they are probably alcoholic and their liver is slowly failing. Surprising how many fit this criterion.
    Anyway Father, did not want the readership to think beer is all fun and games. There is a high social price and fatal consequences for many.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Water drowns a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean swimming is wrong.

    St. Brigid:
    “I should like a great lake of beer to give to God.
    I should like the angels of Heaven to be tippling there for all eternity.
    I should like the men of Heaven to live with me, to dance and sing.
    If they wanted I’d put at their disposal vats of suffering.
    White cups of love I’d give them with a heart and a half.
    Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer to every man.
    I’d make heaven a cheerful spot,
    Because the happy heart is true.
    I’d make men happy for their own sakes.
    I should like Jesus to be there too.
    I’d like the people of heaven to gather from all the parishes around.
    I’d give a special welcome to the women,
    the three Marys of great renown.
    I’d sit with the men, the women of God,
    There by the great lake of beer
    We’d be drinking good health forever,
    And every drop would be a prayer.”

  11. Nan says:

    Supertradmum, everyone knows that in heaven there is no beer.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There are a lot of beer patron saints. Usually if a town is known for beer, its patron saint is big on beer, too. For example, St. Veronus of Lembeek. (Which is where the beer variety called “lambic” got its name.)

    There’s also St. Amand, bishop of Maastricht and founder of St. Amand-les-Eaux.

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