The Beer Option

Without the benefit of modern central heating, 13th century Norwegians probably had no trouble keeping their beer cold—and their water as well. Perhaps for this reason, Norway’s clergy had a hard time baptizing souls. “Look, Father Olaf!—the font’s frozen solid again!”

But whatever the reason, as R. Jared Staudt relates in his book The Beer Option: Brewing a Catholic Culture Yesterday and Today, back in the day, Norway’s chilblained clergy had opted to baptize with beer instead of water. It was apparently just something one did in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

That is, at least until warmer heads in Rome prevailed—and Pope Gregory IX put the pontifical kibosh on the whole suds-as-salvific idea. Quoting from Gregory’s official buzz-killing letter regarding the Norwegian innovation, Staudt writes: “‘Since according to the Gospel teaching, a man must be born again of water and the Holy Ghost,’ Gregory writes those are not to be considered validly baptized who have been baptized with beer.”

Acknowledging the dangers of this and other more earthly instances of beery excess, Staudt has written a sober book-length case for restoring to its proper Catholic context the frothy brew that made Milwaukee—and many a monastery—famous.


  1. Louise Orrock says

    Was there ever an AIDS scare re communion? I’m thinking of Anglican, where you get a taste of/for wine.

    Yesterday I bought a cross on a chain, feeling exhausted by the assassination. The man in the shop said it was £40, whereas i thought it would probably be £10. I was too tired to say no so bought it and got it around my neck even it though I couldn’t see what I was doing – the chain, with a heart on it, and 925 and 926 engraved instead of sterling, was too short. I also got it off at night, thinking it safer to do so in case it cut the neck or someone would break in.

  2. Louisa Orrock says

    Related to beer, I started to drink it instead of wine when I still drank – my parents always – or when I was there – had a drink at 6 and so I would have a half glass, sometimes less, in the evening. I gave up after becoming a vegetarian in 2013, not intentionally, but I suppose vegetarians can become obsessive like that. I also stopped virtually drinking tea and coffee, partly because they were of worse quality, until I ran out of money. However, my point is that I thought beer actually more damaging than wine, its effect on one’s breathing.

  3. Louisa Orrock says

    Related to that. I was in a Chinese restaurant not so long ago and there was an extensive menu relating to ‘fake meat’. How many meats are actually fake? I am sometimes still tempted by the thought of meat although resent the bad meat fat in most other products I get.

  4. Rufus McCain says

    Puts me in mind of the old Olympia Beer slogan: “It’s the water … and a lot more!”

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