Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beer and the Power of Table Fellowship

Not to over state the obvious, but I love beer.  However, it's not the alcohol that I am after.  In fact if someone could remove the alcohol--and the calories while they are at it--from a good stout I would keep their company in business.  I am after flavor.  I love the myriad tastes of beer from Belgian Whites to a good Dark Chocolate Coffee Stout and even the occasional Lager, its the taste of beer that I enjoy.  Take this beer for example:

It is the Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Weyerbacher.  Even though summer seems to be hanging on by its finger nails I decided to try this fall seasonal beer last Thursday.  It is delicious.  Some pumpkin beers go over the top with the pumpkin and end up cloyingly sweet; so sweet your cheeks will flex back to your ears.  Weyerbacher avoids this by balancing the sweet with a delicious array of fall spices especially clove.  Visions of fall--of football, leaves falling on the campus quad, and crisp fall air--come to mind drinking this beer.  As an added bonus, even though it is an Imperial Ale the alcohol flavor is not overwhelming.  Weyerbacher has successfully produced a well balanced seasonal beer, a beer that transcends the drinking experience.  As I mentioned, this beer will take you to your favorite memories of fall.

Speaking of transcendence, there is another factor with beer that might be even more important than flavor: table fellowship.  There is something deep, ancient, maybe even primal about eating and drinking with others.  A good friend joined me the other day when I tried this beer, and his conversation and company made the beer better and vice versa.  

Another couple of friends of mine, Chris and Phileena Heuertz, have a deep understanding of the community built by table fellowship.  They have spent the last twenty or so years seeking and serving Christ in some of the worst slums and barrios on the planet.  They both have written about learning deeper levels of community developed through table fellowship, often through the generosity of some of the poorest people in the world.  Be it a fine Malbec from Spain, Beer Lao from Laos, or boiled water in Calcutta, Chris and Phileena find deep roots tapping holy waters in sharing a glass with friends.  A year ago Chris and Philleena founded Gravity: a Center for Contemplative Activism.  They are striving to help activists cultivate a spiritual life so that they can, "Do Good Better".  They teach spiritual practices and disciplines that enable activists to sustain their ministries through the struggles, heart-ache, grief, and labor of healing this broken world.  In honor of Gravity's one year anniversary and for what they have taught me about table fellowship and community found through a shared glass, I commend the following spiritual practice: when next you have a beer savor the company you keep as much as the flavor.