Beer & Hymns
What Would Jesus Brew?
by Phil Houseal
July 2, 2014
Growing up Catholic, I had no issue when the first thing I saw at our social at Sacred Heart Church in Kinross, Iowa, was a stock tank filled with ice and beer. They served wine at the altar, why not beer on the lawn?
I soon learned that consumption of alcohol was not a part of all religions’ worship experience. Pedernales Brewing Company is having fun establishing that link between refreshment and reverence for the world’s oldest beverage with its Beer & Hymns, held the first Saturday of every month.
Robert Deming, a partner in the brewery, first heard of the concept last December. He toyed with the idea for several months before deciding to try it here.
“I was managing the tasting room at the brewery,” Deming said. “We closed at 5 pm on Saturdays, but we usually still had people there that weren’t finished. So, we just extended the hours, and brought in some musicians.”
There is no missionary agenda or illuminati or evangelizing. In fact, the name of the event describes it perfectly and completely–beer and hymns.
“We don’t start or end with a prayer, there is no ‘message,’ there is no preacher,” he said. “It is about fellowship, hanging out together, and having fun. We mostly just sing.”
SIDE NOTE: I drew some "spirited" feedback from Christians for writing this column...
Phil... you are a disgrace to the human race... Every Christian in Fredricksburg should get together and demand the evil man be forced to leave your town... God has two strong angels who will usher him to the brink of hell and give him his reward for eternity. Dean Rumbaugh
I felt the same outrage you did. How dare ANYONE put down or minimize what Christ did for us! For anyone to openly push "Beer and Hymns" is making a mockery out of Jesus Christ and HIS Bride, the church. Fredericksburg, you should be very ashamed! Shame on you, Phil. Shame on you! Margaret Williams
Changing the WWJD into wwJB (what would Jesus brew) is an insult...inviting people to join them for a church that has no pulpit no preacher and only have hymns and beer, is unbelievable .....How can Christians stand by and keep still...? Dean Rumbaugh
SHAME ON Him for sure, He must be one sickening man to be stooping so low, OH !! YES ! Lettie Bailey
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Since offering the first Beer & Hymns in March, the brewery has averaged about 60 people at a time. Last month practically the entire Methodist Church choir showed up, and they are challenging other church choirs to attend.
Deming makes no claim to inventing this sudsy communion. Beer & Hymns is an international movement. In fact there are a growing number of “beer churches.” The uniqueness of the local event is that Fredericksburg may be the first community where the hymns are hosted by a brewery.
Asking “What would Jesus Brew” is not as incongruous as one might at first think. Even the casual Bible reader is familiar with several references to alcohol in those pages. In fact, some scholars maintain that the miracle where Jesus turns water into wine may be an alternate translation that originally referred to beer.
The program for the evening is very informal and completely nondenominational. Guests enter the brewing area at the brewery on Hwy 87 South of Fredericksburg. There is no program, no pulpit, no sound system, and never a collection plate. Sometimes there are not even chairs. Singers stand on concrete amid towering stainless steel vats and sing gospel hymns for an hour. Pints of Lobo Beer circulate for $4, and free bottled water is available for non-imbibers or spontaneous baptism.
So why not?
“Singing is fun and good for you,” Deming insisted. “How often do you get the chance to sing? If we are not in church, we don’t sing.”
It’s just fun.
“We don’t care who you are, or what religion you practice–we don’t care. If you want to sing and drink a beer, come here.”
You might not be “saved” at Beer & Hymns. But Deming does guarantee one thing.
“You will leave with a smile on your face.”