Beer has had a rough go of it in the United States. The temperance movement, Carrie Nation, Prohibition, and the aftermath of all of the above have conspired to keep beer on the fringes in some quarters.
Nowhere is this more true than in American evangelicalism. Many American evangelicals have begun loosening up in their attitudes about wine while many of those same people remain settled in their conviction that beer is a slovenly drink whose only use is for getting drunk as quickly as possible in order to endure otherwise awkward social situations.
It doesn’t help that popular culture portrays beer culture in a couple of less-than-flattering ways. Consider the average beer commercial during an NFL football game or especially during the Super Bowl adverts. In the minds of some beer is only either:
1. The libation of choice of knuckle-dragging men who spend an inordinate amount of time ogling bikini models.
2. The libation of choice for nearly every “frat party scene” in motion picture history.
Quick tip: If you are a beer newbie and you are considering purchasing a beer that regularly advertises during televised sporting events, be forewarned that said beer probably tastes like swill and isn’t worth your time and hard-earned money.
I grew up in a home where both parents professed Christ and some of my earliest memories are of being in church. I also remember my father having beer in the refrigerator at home and enjoying beer in my presence on occasion. This made surprisingly little impression on me as a young person. I was not tempted in any way toward drunkenness, I found the whole “party scene” during high school to be a dreadful waste of time, and managed to make it all of the way through high school and college without ever tasting a drop of alcohol.
What changed for me was quite simple. In the mid-1990s I became a Reformed Presbyterian and fell in with a group of committed, thoughtful Christian believers who loved God, loved keeping His commandments, and also enjoyed wine, beer, and spirits in moderation.
So it was in the later summer of 1998, while eating at an Applebee’s with my wife in Nashville, Tennessee I decided, “I’m going to try a glass of beer and see what the fuss is about.” I knew next to nothing about “choosing a good beer.” Beer is beer, right? All of it smells nasty–especially beer cans lying by the side of the road in the hot summer sun–and probably tastes equally putrid. Chances were good that, regardless of my beer order, I would hate the taste and move on.
I could have gone very wrong in my beer choice that day but my friends were discerning in their beer tastes and I decided to mimic their actions by ordering a Guinness Draught.
Quick tip: The word “draught” is the British spelling for the word “draft.” If you order a “draught beer” on tap in a restaurant you are supposed to receive a beer poured in your glass from either a cask or a keg (as opposed to a pour from a can or a bottle). Guinness Draught attempts to emulate the kegged or casked beer experience by coming to the consumer in a pressurized can that contains a nitrogen widget.
I’m not sure what I expected when I took the glass to my lips, but Guineess Draught was unlike anything I had ever tasted. The foam at the top (called the “head”) was incredibly creamy, the smell was of yeasty bread, and the taste was slightly bitter with a little bit of dark chocolate thrown in. This was not “beer cans lying by the side of the road on a hot summer day” nasty. This was a complex and fascinating drink. And thus began my love of fine craft beer.
Unlike so many others, my entry into the world of beer drinking was not through frat party culture or through slamming through beer after beer as quickly as possible in order for the “liquid courage” to take effect. It was in the context of Christian friendship and a shared meal with my lovely wife.
Beer prayer: Almighty God. we give thanks for Guinness Draught, the Christian legacy of the Arthur Guinness family, and how a pint of it makes our hearts happy and our faces shine. Thank you for the beer’s creamy head, its mild roasted flavor of malt and barley, and its aroma of bread. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!
My Untappd rating for Guinness Draught: 5/5