QUAERITUR: Theologi si fuerint cervisiae… (If theologians were beers…)

Over at Ascent of Carmel we find (and you will have to go there to find the explanations…):

If Theologians Were Beers… A Selection
“In Catholicism, the pint, the pipe and the Cross can all fit together.”
-G.K Chesterton

Yesterday, my good friend and I were joking lightheartedly about theology and beer, and it occured to me, in all this posting on theology and prayer, that it might do me and anyone else who even happens to read this blog a bit of good to post something lighter in nature. Hence, since I am a beer connossieur of sorts, I wish to offer my list of which theologians would be which beers and ales. Obviously, I mean no irreverence by it all. Here we go:

1. St. Thomas Aquinas
We must say without hesitation that St. Thomas Aquinas would be Guinness Stout. This is proved:
Firstly, we must say that, […]

2. Tertullian
Tertullian’s biting invectives and savage polemics warrant him his own beer representative in the world to be the India Pale Ale, though this comes in many varieties. […]

3. Bl. John Duns Scotus After several minutes of intense pondering, it has occurred to me that Duns Scotus would warrant the comparison to Smithwick’s Irish Ale. […]

4. St. Hildegard Von Bingen It has come to my attention that St. Hildegard, a soon to be declared Doctor of the Church and medieval mystic, should be compared to Fraoch Heather Ale. […]

5. Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange … an oft-maligned and yet supremely adept disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas, would have to be said to be an Oatmeal Stout. […]

6. Soren Kierkegaard The great Christian existentialist and forever-tormented-in-angst Lutheran, Soren Kierkegaard, must be said to be compared to Faxe Royal Strong. […]

7. Karl Barth … often cited as the greatest Christian theologian of the 20th century, hits with the same force as Tucher Pilsner. […]

I have a problem with some of these choices.  First, IPA for Tertullian?   Have they ever read Tertullian?

Also, where is Augustine ?  (Barley Wine?) Bonaventure? (Bock?)

No John Chrysostom?  No Albert the Great?

No Kung?  No Rahner?

No Ratzinger?

No John of the Cross?  Lonergan? Nichols?

No Newman?

Also, consumed chilled?  Room temp?

So many possibilities, so few blogging minutes.

Perhaps you can help both the original posters and me.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. pseudomodo says:

    Kung and Rahner would be like a tourist ordering a pint of Strongbow. You think you’re getting a Brewskie, but..NOOOooooooooooo!!!!!!??&*$@

  2. ArtND76 says:

    I’ve been reading Ratzinger’s Jesus of Nazareth lately. I have also listened to a number of his remarks, such as those to the United States bishops.

    Based on that, I would say Ratzinger corresponds to Schneider Aventinus Eisbock: drink slowly in smaller quantities, both to appreciate the flavor (strong but with some sweetness to it) and because it has a potent alcohol content!

  3. Clinton says:

    Baron Korf, I think Kung = flat Zima.

  4. dnicoll says:

    Kung = Budweiser.
    Ratzinger = Paulaner Hefe-Weizen
    St Cyril of Alexandria = Hobgoblin Ruby Beer

  5. disco says:

    Dnicoll, how dare you insult the king of beers that way.

  6. Kerry says:

    Surely Father Z, your is Red & Black ale. Heh.

  7. dep says:

    Not sure as to beers and personalities, nor even if this applies to Catholicism, but back when I was an Anglican it was said of that church that where you find four bishops, you’ll find a fifth.

  8. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Um, how about Richard McBrien = Flat Tire Ale?


    Fr Z's Gold Star Award

    (I can hear the air letting out now… no wait, was that air?)


  9. Legisperitus says:

    St. Anselm reminds me of a St. Peter’s Porter. Solid English brew.

    As for Richard McBrien, may I suggest Arrogant Bastard Ale?

  10. Athanasius says:

    McBrien- Coors Light
    Hans Kung- O’Douls Non-alcoholic Beer
    Andrew Greeley – Miluakee’s Best
    Raymond Brown – water
    William of Ockham – Budweiser
    St. Robert Bellarmine – Chimay Blue
    St. Augustine – Sam Adams Imperial Stout
    J Cardinal Franzelin – Murphy’s Irish Stout (Just as Murphys dwarfs all stouts, Franzelin dwarfs all modern theologians)
    St. John Henry Newman – The Kernel Imperial Brown Stout (London 1856)

  11. ejcmartin says:

    Unfortunately my favourite beer would probably qualify as the official brew of the LCWR, “Old Speckled Hen.”

  12. Imrahil says:

    Hmm… of course a German can only drink or even dislike German beers, which you have to excuse.

    That said,

    St. Benedict: Weltenburg Monastery Barock dark beer. The best beer in the world (that is certified) and a thing you can just sit down and relax with. Of course St. Thomas has a word to play along, but well he’s got his own Guiness and Guiness is also a good beer. (The one exception I’ll make to the “German only” policy.) And – Weltenburg dark that is – brewed by actual Benedictinians! If that doesn’t say it.

    St. Augustine: Rothaus Tannenzäpfle. One of the rare drinkable sorts of pilsener-style beer. And tastes actually very good.

    Bonaventure: Bock is accepted.

    St. John Chrysostom: The Golden Mouth is entitled to go for the well-beloved Tegernseer Helles.

    Albert the Great: Köstritzer Blackbeer.

    Hans Küng: Bitburger (or, yes, Budweiser, which I hear is similar in style). Undrinkable, but people just happen to be enthousiastic about it for I do not know what reason.

    Karl Rahner SJ: A cocktail, half a good red wine, half a good beer, plus a shot of tequila (the latter stands for St. Ignace’s soldierly Jesuit style, and after all Spain was then just conquering Mexico). I wonder how all of it tastes put together. You might ever find out new tastes every time you take a sip. But still if you want to initiate a novice into the art of beer-drinking you’d give him something else.

    Pope Benedict: The Paulaner mentioned above is a good choice. Comes from his native Bavaria; sponsor of FC Bayern which are always among the best soccer clubs. Still other beers taste better, or better to say, more specific; when you drink Paulaner you just know that this is what beer is like.

    St. John of the Cross: apple juice with sparkling water. Sorry. But solo Dios basta.

    I cannot vote on Lonergan or Nichols.

    Bl. John Henry Newman: Spaten (Helles, that is, if there are more of them). Tastes like a pilsener that converted to to Helles-ism..

    Chesterton: Augustiner Edelstoff. Tastes just fine; and although it tastes differently, what I said about the Weltenburg Dark with sitting down and relaxing applies here too. The second best beer in the world (no, that is not certified).

    Gerhard Ludwig Müller: Löwenbräu. Is not hip among the youth (or the old), but you know what you get and it is actually a good beer once you stepped over your prejudices.

    Ludwig Ott: Hacker Pschorr. Good beer without special remarkability. But is sold with the outdated but very practicable clip stopper (Bügelverschluß?) just as Ludwig Ott has the preconciliar touch and language on him.

    St. Francis: Franziskaner Weißbier. No-brainer.

    Hilaire Belloc: Augustiner Helles. Good friend of Chesterton (Augustiner Edelstoff), but, like other beers but unlike Edelstoff, tastes bitter..

  13. mike cliffson says:

    Should there be any correspondance twixt theologians and top- or bottom fermenting beers? old ales and small beers? made with hard or soft water? the hop varieties used?:challenger, bullion, cascade, fuggles……..

  14. Augustine as Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger.

    Such a delectable beer.


  15. robtbrown says:

    I notice two references to Budweiser. Do they refer to the Czech beer (excellent) or the American beer (below average)?

  16. theidler says:

    Hi Fr. Z, I’m the author of the article :)
    So, in reference to it, I didn’t list some of those theologians because it would hve taken me all day, so I just listed the ones that poppped into my mind at the time – to be honest Father, my allergies are so bad right now I can barely think clearly ;)
    And Tertullian – oh, I read Tertullian. :)

    Many thanks for posting my blog on your own most venerable blog. I shall have to post a follow up.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    Nichols, as in Vincent ?, Greene King, and Abbot Ale for St. Benedict. Armada Ale (a Harvey’s) for William Allen, who could be beatified, and Harvey’s Bonfire Boy for Henry Garnet, who should be canonized.

    Interesting that I am a Thomist and Guinness is my favorite beer…hmmm.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    Terence Nichols (wasn’t sure which Nichols you meant), Loose Cannon;
    Leonardo Boff, Beyond the Pale;
    Karl Rahner, Darkside;
    Richard of St. Victor, Priory Ale
    and Blessed Newman, Oxford Gold.

  19. Jenice says:

    A slight correction to the great Latin title: “fuerint” is perfect subjunctive, but that is the one tense of the subjunctive that is not used in conditionals. The translation is a contrary-to-present-fact conditional, which uses the imperfect subjunctive. So “essent” is what I would expect instead of “fuerint.”

  20. Mrs. O says:

    If you must bring McBrien in, he reminds me of The Beast – cheap wino beer that would sure give you the runs! Speaking of beers, we will finally get stronger beer in our state so maybe we can try some of the others!

  21. FXR2 says:

    I suggest Ruination IPA would be a fit beer for Rahner, and perhaps Blithering Idiot Barley Wine would work for Kung.
    I love the names but both beers are good natured and have strong character.
    I mean this all in fun, and offer my prayers for all priests.


  22. Long-Skirts says:




    A man’s best friend,
    If you please,
    Is not a dog
    But cheddar cheese.

    A cheese whose taste
    Runs sharp or mellow,
    Why, cheese with beer
    Can help a fellow!

    And make him look,
    Like a handsome hunk,
    When he passes some
    To a girl that’s drunk

    In the local pub,
    If truth be told,
    When the girls get silly
    Then cheese is gold.

    Where drafts of beer
    Make you look better
    As she gulps them down
    With a side of cheddar!

  23. theophilus says:

    Tertullian would have to be a beer that spoils after it ages a few years due to his creeping Montanism.

  24. bishedwin says:

    Rowan Williams must be Tanglewood

  25. mike cliffson says:

    And who is “old peculiar”?

  26. Stephen D says:

    I understand that the Pope likes an English beer called ‘Spitfire’ and that some English bishops take him a supply when visiting Rome.

  27. William Tighe says:

    “And who is ‘old peculiar’?”

    Old PeculiEr, not Old PeculiAr — so the question is not “who,” but “what” and “where.” (“Where” is Masham in North Yorkshire — whose inhabitants kept all the Catholic furnishings of their parish church concealed from 1559 to 1595 in the sadly vain hope of a return of “the old religion.” “What” I’ll leave to curious and informed readers.)

  28. Supertradmum says:

    from the site “Yorkshire-The Wondering Brit”

    “During the reign of William the Conqueror the lands and estates of Mashamshire were given to Nigel de Albini, one of William’s captains, who had laid waste to this part of the country.
    The lands subsequently passed to Nigel’s son, Roger de Mowbray, who proved his worth as a knight at the Battle of Standard in 1138, when a great victory was won over the invading Scottish army, and then went to the Holy Lands to fight in the Crusades.
    During this time, he was captured by Saladin and held to ransom for seven years until he was redeemed by the Knights Templar. In gratitude for this, he donated the living of the church at Masham to the Church of St Peter in York.
    However, the journey from York to Masham was both arduous and dangerous, so the Archbishop of York established the Peculier Court of Masham to avoid having to make regular visits (peculier is a Norman word meaning particular).
    The chairman of this court is known as the Official and he has a special seal to mark his approval or decision.

    The Court has a great deal of local power and the following are some of the offences dealt with in the past:
    not coming to church enough
    keeping a hat on at communion
    for bidding the church wardens to do their worst
    on being asked to go to church
    not bringing their children to be baptised
    husband and wife living apart
    for brawling and scolding
    for harbouring Roman Catholic priests
    for carrying a dead man’s skull out of the churchyard and laying it under the head of a person to charm them to sleep.”

    That there is a connection to the Knights Templar is also a plus….

    I have had the ale many years ago and like it. It is good. I have not discovered where to find it in London, but I do not go out to pubs except maybe four times a year with friends….ladies do not go to pubs alone!

    As to a theologian connected to this ale, I would have to say Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller might fit the ale….

  29. There is a beer made here in the great state of Texas, in Ft. Worth, and there is a story behind it. I wonder if anyone would be able to identify this beer with a theologian? The beer’s name? “Buffalo Butt”

  30. bourgja says:

    St. John of the Cross= no beer whatsoever. Nada.

  31. William Tighe says:


    Many years ago (ca. 1979-ca. 1994), when I lived in London for a bit, and returned betimes to sojourn in Mecklenburgh Square, there was a pub at the corner of Lamb’s Conduit Street and Great Ormond Street, “The Perseverance,” which used to have Old Peculier on draught. It was not a particularly salubrious establishment, compared, say, to “The Lamb” a bit further north on Lamb’s Conduit.

    I am fond indeed of Old Peculier. As to German beers, I am always fond of Franzizkanerbrau “Hefeweitzen,” and also, seasonally, of the wonderful black Augustinerbrau “Maximator.”

  32. Thomas in MD says:

    I’d say the Holy Father is Spaten Optimator a good solid Bavarian. Prosit!

  33. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I’m no expert on beer but I would imagine that a hard-hitting and faithful theologian would want a Porter or Stout – IPAs, the new beers with citrus or fruity crap in em, American Budwieser and such pale tastes would be better served to the more weaselly unfaithful, yes?

  34. Suburbanbanshee says:

    St. Hildegarde was on the oatmeal beer side, although she also used wine for a lot of her remedies.

    San Juan de la Cruz is all about the vino.

    In the inner wine cellar
    I drank of my Beloved, and, when I went abroad
    through all this valley
    I no longer knew anything,
    and lost the herd that I was following.

  35. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Whoops. This may be more helpful, since it’s in English: http://www.karmel.at/ics/john/cn_3.html

  36. Supertradmum says:

    William Tighe, I have been at that corner, but not lately and I shall look the pub up. Pubs have changed so much in London. If my son comes for a visit, and I would have a chaperon, maybe I can go….and, if so, I shall let you know if Old Peculier is there.

  37. Supertradmum says:

    William Tighe again, I cannot see online that your old pub has OP, but apparently The Swan in Bloomsbury does, with Speckled Hen (not one I like) and Pride, with one other I do not know, Old Reindeer. Sometimes, however, the websites are woefully incorrect.

    Pride Ale needs to be joined with some theologian….

  38. jaykay says:

    “Bl. John Duns Scotus After several minutes of intense pondering, it has occurred to me that Duns Scotus would warrant the comparison to Smithwick’s Irish Ale. […]

    Smithwick’s???? Blech, et iterum dico: blech!! Poor Duns Scotus. Have the good people at Ascent of Carmel ever actually drunk that stuff? As it’s sold on draught in Ireland? It’s a bit of a joke over here. Nasty, pasteurised stuff. Oh well, de gustibus and all that.

    Nah, Scotus would have to be one of the Stouts, Beamish or Murphy, since Guinness is already taken.

  39. dnicoll says:

    Any ref to Budweiser is to the tasteless, watery and weak excuse of a beer from America and not to the rather special real Budweiser Budvar from the Czech Republic. The non-alcoholic beers suggested for Kung are a nice idea but they at least taste unpleasant rather than tasting of nothing.

  40. dnicoll says:

    but then I am a real ale man so almost any lager is treated with disgust by my taste buds :-). Real Ale is the alcohol equivalent of the TLM. Rich, varied, nuanced and full of wonderful detail if you take the time to get to know it :-)

  41. dnicoll says:

    but then I am a real ale man :-). Real Ale is the alcohol equivalent of the TLM. Rich, varied, nuanced and full of wonderful detail if you take the time to get to know it :-)

  42. theidler says:

    Have I ever drunk Smithwick’s? Yep. On tap in Ireland? Yep – lots. Love the stuff. Enjoy Scotus too.

    Jason @ Ascending Mount Carmel

  43. jaykay says:

    Jason… oh Jason. Sigh. Oh well, I did say de gustibus…

    Actually, Ireland doesn’t really have a great home-based brewing industry anymore. Lots of imports. Nothing like our neighbours. Still, Smithwicks did bring out a new light ale last year. Wasn’t too bad, had the basics of a decent English ale taste. Didn’t do that well really, which says a bit about Irish tastes.

    Nevertheless I think Duns Scotus given his origins might have been a bit more of a Newcastle Brown ale.

    And speaking of Scotti, what beer do you think Scotus Eriugena might have been?

  44. theidler says:

    not sure about eriugena…haven’t read much of him but understand he was a pantheist…i’ll have to think about it. I will do another post on more theologians as beers soon…
    Oh, and for the record, I drank lots of Beamish in Dublin – great stout.

  45. everett says:

    I missed this on my travels, but Pope Benedict does have a wine named after. Trinitas Cellars here in the Napa Valley makes a “rat-ZIN-ger”. Here’s a link to a newspaper article about it:


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