To new and old readers of this blog, to those who I’ve been able to lift a pint with, and to those gathering everywhere to enjoy a good brew and engage in thoughtful discussion, here’s to 2013! It was a good year! Cheers.
YEAR-END GIVEAWAY – I’m giving away a signed copy of Pub Theology along with a $25 gift certificate to your favorite brewery. Entry details below. (Winner, drawn on Jan 4 2014 is: DIANE McGRATH from Abington, PA! She entered via Facebook. Results via randomresult.com)
Pub Theology Official Directory: A listing of all Pub Theology and Theology on Tap style gatherings in the United States. There are over 130 groups listed here and more are being added every week. Know of a group that’s not listed? Post it in the comments below! It’s really great to hear from folks all over the country who are being intentional about cultivating an ongoing conversation in their community about matters of life, philosophy, and faith.
A Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister Walk Into a Bar – at both Philly Beer Week and DC Beer Week, I was privileged to join Rabbi Eli Freedman and Father Kirk Berlenbach for conversational sessions in which each of us discussed the role of craft beer in our faith communities. Both events drew packed houses and generated considerable buzz as unusual offerings on the usual slate of beer week events. Look for us at a beer week near you in 2014!
TOP TEN BEERS
You’ll see a few saisons on the list this year as my palate expanded to enjoy more farmhouse and Belgian style beers.
10) Monkey King Saison (New Holland Brewing) - A soft, medium body saison with subtle pepper character and fruity undertones.
9) El Hefe Speaks! (DC Brau) - a traditionally brewed German-style Hefe. It is fermented around 65°F and hopped with German Tettnang hops. 11 IBUs and 5.3% ABV make this one extremely drinkable. One of three local DC beers to make my top ten.
8) ESA (Yards) - East Kent Golding hops give this English style ale a subtle spiciness, which compliments its strong malt backbone. Hints of chocolate and caramel round out this deep chestnut colored ale. Floral, earthy, smooth. A cask-conditioned wonder that is a staple of Yards in Philadelphia. I enjoyed this one at a small bar served via the hand-pull from the cask. Smooth and delightful.
7) Peppercorn Saison (3 Star Brewing) – Belgian style farmhouse ale. Slightly sweet fruity nose, hints of grass and coriander, smooth underlying bitterness, clean dry finish, smooth lingering citrus notes. A local DC offering.
6) La Saison Des Fêtes (Atlas Brew Works) - A warming winter Belgian ale straight from the farmhouse to your fireside. The third saison to make the list, and the third DC brewed offering from one of the District’s newest breweries.
5) Stone Ruination IPA (Stone Brewing) - an extra-large helping of malt, and a lot more hops. And then some more. And then even more, resulting in a vibrant blast of citrusy bitterness that hits you on the first sip. Just one taste and you’ll know why it says on the bottle: “A liquid poem to the glory of the hop!”
4) Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter (Starr Hill) - a traditional English-style Brown Porter with pumpkin added to the mash. Light spicing allows the subtle flavors of pumpkin and roasty porter to shine through. Boxcarr is a session beer at 4.7% and very drinkable. This was my go-to beer this fall.
3) Three Philosophers (Ommegang) – A beer made for contemplation. Aroma a sweet and heady mixture of rich toffee, floral tobacco, vanilla bourbon, and brown spices. Very sweet smell but there’s a little bitter grain to provide balance. Palate is all rich sweet malts, dark fruits, and spice, minimal toast or roast. Milk chocolate, dates, nutmeg and clove, vanilla cream, a little banana, and licorice toffee with a semi-chewy, buttery mouthfeel. A small amount of ale brewed with Belgian kriek cherries imparts a subtle red fruit acidity from start to finish. Low to moderate carbonation. A very nice Belgian-style quad with a lot of complexity and character. And much gratitude to Ommegang for sponsoring our DC Beer Week event!
2) Parabola Russian Imperial Stout (Firestone Walker) - Bold bourbon, tobacco and espresso aromas and a hint of American oak greet the nose. Rich, chewy roasted malts, charred oak and bourbon-like vanilla fill the palate and create a seamless finish. A remarkably complex brew that—according to the brewers—offers a transcendental drinking experience. I enjoyed this at Smoke & Barrel tap takeover during DC Beer Week.
1) Indian Brown Ale (Dogfishhead) - A cross between a Scotch Ale, an India Pale Ale and an American Brown, Indian Brown Ale is well-hopped and malty at the same time (It’s magical!). This made my top ten last year, and this year moves up to no.1! A beer worthy of any top listing.
TOP TEN POSTS
10) Tomorrow’s Theology. Today’s Task. – My response to a controversial article in The Banner.
9) “No, Donny, these men are nihilists.” – This 2011 post on the roots of rapturous nihilism continues to be popular. The end of the world viewed through the lens of The Big Lebowski.
8) Apology NOT Accepted – A Lutheran pastor is forced to apologize for praying at an interfaith prayer service. I refused the apology.
7) Jesus in the Desert: A Midrash? – Jesus encounters Satan in the desert. History, parable, or midrash?
6) God Doesn’t Need Our Help, But He Asks For It – James K.A. Smith says there is a “new apologetics” afoot in Christianity to make the faith more palatable in an age of intellectualism and postmodernity. He’s wrong.
5) Why Conservative Churches Attract Young People… Or Not – You get the idea.
4) Religion May Not Survive the Internet, Then Again… It Might – Some are saying religion is going to be vaporized by this thing called the ‘internet’. I say not so fast.
3) Noah and the Violence of God – Debate: who is more violent – God or Russell Crowe? [Trailer included]
2) A New Convergence - There are shifts happening within broader Christianity… whether one likes it or not. This 2012 article is the most popular post ever at pubtheologian.com.
1) Show Up or Else: the So-Called Scandal of the Semi-Churched – A controversial post (from just a couple weeks ago!) where I take a pastor to task for chastising his congregation (and every Christian) for inadequate church attendance.
TOP GUEST POSTS
1) Practicing Theology Without a Net: Theology Pubs, Spiritual Direction, and Letting Go – This fantastic article by Keith Anderson was featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed. A great read.
2) 10 Things You Can’t Do at Christmas While Following Jesus – Mark Sandlin’s piece got a lot of attention this Christmas. Deservedly so.
5) Walden Two (B.F. Skinner) - This fictional outline of a modern Utopia has been a centre of controversy ever since its publication in 1948. An interesting read if you’re interested in sociology, community, and attempts at ‘getting it right’.
4) Schrödinger’s Gat (Robert Kroese) - A quantum physics thriller. If you like having your mind bent by science and philosophy (who doesn’t?) while reading an engaging story, read this book! ($2.99 for Kindle)
3) To An Unknown God (John Steinbeck) - A mystical tale, exploring one man’s attempt to control the forces of nature and to understand the ways of God. Steinbeck once again captivates.
2) A Being Darkly Wise (John Atchison) – Every once in a while you find a book that knocks your socks off. “A Being Darkly Wise” is such a book. A group of Washington bureaucrats go on a wilderness training led by a mysterious, charismatic activist/scientist. As the story progresses they begin to realize how estranged they have become from the earth we inhabit. ($3.99 for Kindle)
1) 11/22/63 (Stephen King) – My favorite read this year, and timely with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. If you could go back in time, would you change anything? Captivating read, and really great story-telling. I couldn’t put it down.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Don’t forget to enter the year-end giveaway!
Here’s how to enter:
1) Share this post on social media (FB, Twitter, Google+).
2) Like my author page or invite your friends to like my author page.
3) Like this post with your WordPress account.
4) Share your favorite beer or favorite book (or both!) from the past year in the comments below.
5) Follow me and/or Pub Theology on Twitter: @bryberg and @pubtheology
You can enter multiple times by doing each of the above. Must enter by 1/1/2014. Drawing on Jan 2. Good luck!