Brewing, like most creative acts, can be an enormously satisfying experience. Moreover, brewing, like playing music, gets a lot more fun when you are not doing it alone. Many times I have whiled away an afternoon hanging out with friends from our parish beer club, shooting the breeze, catching up on news, listening to the game on the radio and reveling in the wonderful aroma of malt tea and hops.
Then in August we decided to deepen this already meaningful experience when we did a collaboration brew with our friends from Congregation Rodeph Shalom Synagogue. Rabbi Eli Freedman and I have known each other for about a year and a half and have been working together since we started doing our “A Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister Walk Into a Bar” events.
We were first brought together by Nancy and George Hummel of Homesweet Homebrew who knew that we both had beer clubs at our congregations. Getting our respective clubs together was a logical next step. And so with a little planning a nice respective cross section of each of our groups gathered in my church basement where we have a big industrial kitchen.
We left the actual work of brewing and monitoring temperature and time to our more experienced lead brewers. In the meantime we spent our time mingling with the people (we are clergy after all) and getting to know the members of the other group.
To me the highlight of the day was taking the members from Rodeph Shalom on a tour of our church. It is always a unique and enjoyable experience to explain symbolism and structure to folks from another faith. It was even better when Eli and his people were able to seize onto common symbols and explain how they had their origins in Judaism.
By the time we wrapped up the tour the brew crew in the kitchen was already chilling the wort. As to the beer itself, we brewed a Saison (Belgian farmhouse) style beer. The day wrapped up with us collectively trying to figure out a name that would have some significance for both of our faiths. We settled on “Ecclesiastes 3:1 (To everything there’s a Saison).” This is of course terrible pun but we couldn’t help ourselves.
We look forward to serving the beer for the first time at one of Rodeph Shalom’s Sukkot celebrations at a festival dinner for both of our clubs out under their big sukkah (tent). FYI, Sukkot is the Jewish harvest festival and to honor its agricultural origins, traditionally takes place out under a big tent.
So while making this beer was a lot of fun, its real value will not be in drinking it, but in the bonds it help to forge between a group of people from different faiths. In the end we discovered we have much more in common than just the love of great beer and that is something always worthy of celebration.
I look forward to sharing details and pictures from the event with you soon.