Liquid Bread


Creating interesting characters for my Widow’s Landing family saga is challenging. Each newcomer needs to be unique. By serendipity this past Lent, I read about beer and immediately knew I’d found a distinctive occupation for my latest protagonist. She would be a brew-master.

Not really a big beer fan, I set about learning what I could about brewing beer:

  • During the Middle Ages in the colder climates of northern Europe, where grapes didn’t survive as a source for making wine, and water was often polluted, beer was the drink of choice.
  • European monasteries brewed beer as a staple food for monks’ daily diets. They called it “liquid bread” because it was nutritious and plentiful, especially during Lent when solid food was restricted. I suspect beer probably made that season of austerity almost enjoyable. And the monks gladly housed travelers who would purchase their local beer and support a good cause.
  • When a batch went bad, the devil was to blame. The remedy was to post a statue of St. Joseph in the brew house and have the local priest bless each batch.
  • When the Mayflower set sail from England with Puritans seeking religious freedom, the hold was loaded with beer. When they landed at Plymouth Rock, they were out of both food and drink. So when they landed they didn’t dilly-dally – just settled and start brewing.
  • Benjamin Franklin insisted that, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
  • Brigid of Ireland was such a beer fan, in her version of Paradise she “…would like the people of heaven to be drinking from a great lake of beer through time eternal.” No Prohibition or Volstead Act there.
  • Today the Big Guy Brewers are being challenged by craft breweries who have boldly resurrected centuries-old beer recipes. These rebel brewers aren’t afraid to forsake traditional barley for unusual grains such as pine cone nuts and rice grains. These brews, called “Yeti” beers, honor that mysterious, furry animal that lurks high in the mountains, ready to disrupt the establishment.

So raise a glass of that foamy stuff and drink a toast to the diversity achieved in our beer revolution.

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