Sunday, December 18, 2011

Final Brewing Day

I remember a professor in Belgium telling a class about how much Belgian culture had changed during his lifetime.  "Look," he said "you cannot possibly see it, but it is the fabric... the substance that has changed.  When I was young the women, when they made bread, they would cut crosses into every loaf's crust and bless each.  Daily bread was treated like a eucharist.  Can you imagine such superstitions now?"  Actually, we probably cannot imagine such inherent piety.  Even if our devotion as Catholics extends beyond Mass once a week, confession once a month and adoration once in a blue moon, how often do we bless our children, the food that we cook or even ourselves?  I believe that this would make us embarrassed, even in the privacy of our own homes. Arguably such blessings, relics, sacaramentals etc. are embarrassing if we view them as superstitions.  But our Catholic heritage has always been saturated with such things.  It is inextricably intertwined, bound up in them.  Are we losing ourselves?  Are we embarrassed by our forefathers?  We need a renewal and the location of this renewal is the family, the household.  Here we must be proactive.

One of the Opas (Grandpas) in the family was present during a papal visit by JPII years ago.  This simple Texan became immensely excited when the Holy Father passed by, and began to bless the pontiff vigorously.  He has, of course, been teased for this ever since.  Imagine blessing the one man in the world who, more than any other, ought to be the one bestowing blessings!  Yet I am not so sure he had the wrong idea.  Certainly we must not see the Church as an outside entity that grants us special blessings.   A Catholic cultural renewal is going to come from the domestic Church, from our tables and from our beds.  We have a unique blessing to give to the rest of the Church and to the rest of the world.  As priests, prophets and kings of our own households, as icons of Christ to our families we must actively engage what Christ has given to us.

Today, Christ has given us ale: the final brewing day has arrived and it is time to bottle the beer.

Here is what you need: Capper, 50 empty beer bottles (non-screwtop), bottle  caps, racking (siphon) hose, springless bottle filler, auto siphon.

1.)  Sanitize (bottling bucket, racking tubes, bottles, bottle caps, brewing spoon)  Sanitizing the bottles can be enormously time consuming, or you can simply put them facing down in the dishwasher without any detergent.  The heat will sanitize the bottles.

2.)  Rack (siphon) the ale into the the bottling bucket.

3.) In a saucepan, dissolve 3/4 cup of corn sugar  in 2 cups of boiling water for 5 minutes

4.) Stir in the dissolved corn sugar into the ale.  This primes the beer and is what will cause the carbonation to occur within the bottles.

5.)  +Bless the Beer+ (See below)

6.)  Using the siphon hose attached to a bottle filler, fill each bottle.  In order for the ale to fill the bottle, the filler must be pressed against the bottom of the bottle.  To stop the flow of the beer, just lift filler from the bottom.  It is important to leave about 1" of space in each bottle.  However, because the filler is displacing the beer, you can fill the bottles relatively close to the top, and when you lift the filler out there will be just about an inch of space left.

7.)  After filling each, cap the bottle and place in dark, cool location.

We found the following beer blessing at the Catholic Beer Review blog:

Blessing of Beer:

V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.


Bene+dic, Domine, creaturam istam cerevisiae, quam ex adipe frumenti producere dignatus es: ut sit remedium salutare humano generi, et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sancti; ut, quicumque ex ea biberint, sanitatem corpus et animae tutelam percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.

R. Amen.

Et aspergatur aqua benedicta.

English translation:

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Bless, + O Lord, this creature beer, which thou hast deigned to produce from the fat of grain: that it may be a salutary remedy to the human race, and grant through the invocation of thy holy name; that, whoever shall drink it, may gain health in body and peace in soul. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Sprinkle with holy water.


  1. love the blessing. Can't wait to try the beer!

  2. Hi! I just found your blog a few days ago through the Catholic Land Movement blog and am heartily pleased with all your posts. My husband and I are passionate about the restoration of Catholic culture through all things domestic, and one of my newest pursuits is to incorporate prayers into my cooking. I made bread yesterday and prayed on my knees in the kitchen before making the dough, then blessed myself three times before kneading, then marked crosses in the top of each loaf.

    I got the idea for praying with my cooking from a sweet little book titled, "My Russian Yesterdays" by Catherine de Hueck Doherty; granted, she writes of a vibrant religious culture in Orthodox Russia, but she later became Catholic and her cause for canonization is now under way. The book describes different facets of Christian culture in Russia, with prayers before shearing the sheep, gathering healing herbs, cleaning the house, and so forth.

    I dearly long for a vibrant and rich Catholic culture, and my husband and I pray daily for the time when Our Lord will lead us to a little farm near a monastery/convent, with lots of Catholic neighbors.

  3. Thanks Geneva and Katie Rose for the comments. Katie Rose, we're so glad you are enjoying the blog and wanted to thank you for letting us know about the book by Catherine de Hueck Doherty...we just ordered it and can't wait to read it. Sounds right up our alley.

    We join our prayers with yours for a rich Catholic culture in all homes...maybe one day our paths will cross! It's a small Catholic world after all...

    A happy, festive and blessed 2012 to everyone!

  4. Beautiful. I have enjoyed brewing at home for a few years. I used kits for them, about 30 5g. batches. Mostly ales and a couple lagers. It is quite rewarding. I was surprised at how much my kids wanted to be involved and how interested they were! They even took to thinking and speaking of their daddy as someone who brews beer. It is sad in a way, because really their daddy is a cubicle wage slave! It just brought home to me how we truly nneed a renewal of Catholic culture. Like you and Devin and Katie Rose, my wife and I long for this life.

    A couple beer suggestions if I may be so bold:

    1 liter flip-top bottles are nice. They save time bottling (only 18-19 bottles as opposed to 48-50 12oz ones) and they need no capping. They can also easily be stored in the fridge if you dont use the whole liter in a day by simply flipping the cap down. The carbonation stays sufficiently.

    Dont overly worry about racking before bottling with most beer types. Sometimes all it seems to do is make the beer more clear, which I could care less about. Many times I have just left the beer on the yeast in the original fermentation bucket and then 3-6 weeks later it goes into the bottling bucket and boom, done. For me what makes brewing enjoyable is keeping it easy and fun, not getting to much equipment involved.
    Thats my 2 cents.

    Thanks for this great blog!

    1. Thanks David. We have only been brewing for a short while now, so we really appreciate your tips. I do have some flip-tops that I use for making liqueurs but I have never used them for ale. I use the Lorina lemonade bottles (the beverage is great and the bottles are fantastic). However these bottles are clear. Is your sense that you need brown or green flip-tops to keep the beer from going bad? I agree about the stress on simplicity and usually try to avoid the scientifically oriented purists.

      My 3 year old daughter is quite proud of our brewing endeavors and her play kitchen has been transformed into a brewery.