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St. Arnold, Patron Saint Of Brewers

Via Jim Forest, this wonderful story of how a Texas brewery came to possess a large icon of St. Arnold of Metz [1], a sixth-century the patron saint of brewers [2], written for them by the hand of a Russian Orthodox priest. Excerpt from the account given by the founder of St. Arnold Brewing Company [3] in Houston:

The icon was completed in December 2000 and shipped over ahead of time, arriving at the brewery on December 26, 2000.  In January 2001, Fr. Andrey sent us a list of materials needed for the fresco.  These included year old slaked lime and marble dust – not your everyday items.  We called around, discussed slaked lime plaster with old time plasterers (lime is rarely used imgres [4]today in building) and finally found everything needed.  On February 1, 2001, Fr. Andrey and his son, Phillip, arrived in Houston after a 20 hour flight.  On the February 2, they told us perhaps they would like to paint the fresco at his sister’s house.  We didn’t like that idea and quickly went down to her house to delicately persuade him to our point of view, hoping to not make any cultural blunders.  The next day he came up to check out our brewery to see if it would be suitable.  We were brewing when he arrived and the sweet smell of malt filled the air.  He began to warm to us.  We showed him the malt, talked to him about our passion for beer.  We tasted our beers.  We were deemed worthy.  He would build the frame at his sister’s house but paint the fresco at the brewery.

They have a new beer series called Icon [5], from St. Arnold. I’ve seen the latest in St. Arnold’s Icon line in Whole Foods in Baton Rouge. I’m going to buy some next time I’m in the city.

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13 Comments To "St. Arnold, Patron Saint Of Brewers"

#1 Comment By JamesP On July 12, 2013 @ 10:19 am

Interesting story. It’s great that there’s an icon in the brewery, but naming a beer “icon” makes me a tad uncomfortable. I can’t quite put my finger on it, though. What if the beer was called by a particular type of icon, say “Crucifix Ale” featuring a black crucifix on a green background. See my point?

St. Arnold beers do feature a painting of St. Arnold on them in his episcopal vestments, but it’s not quite in icon territory. But is that really any different? I can explain it away, but it still doesn’t feel quite right.

#2 Comment By MClark On July 12, 2013 @ 10:28 am

I’ve been to their brewery tour. We saw people breaking out cards, scrabble and even a Monopoly game in the bar, and wished we had brought a board game also. I still have the pint mug I bought. Good beer.

#3 Comment By MichaelM On July 12, 2013 @ 10:28 am

My mother is still scandalized that what one clicks on the computer desktop is called an “icon” – the bar for sacriledge has been moved again, I think.

I’ll look for this at Whole Foods to share with my PK wife in the meanwhile…

#4 Comment By Charles Cosimano On July 12, 2013 @ 11:02 am

And here I expected a weight lifting joke.

#5 Comment By TWylite On July 12, 2013 @ 11:13 am

Their Elissa IPA is great. I stumbled on it via BJ’s Restaurant (who unwisely no longer carries it), and now get it retail when I can. Their “Lawnmower”, which seems to be more available in stores, didn’t do much for me. Seemed rather tame.

#6 Comment By Jason C. On July 12, 2013 @ 11:15 am

They make great beer, but, so far as I can tell, aren’t remotely religious—the icon, St. Arnold’s feast day, etc., are all marketing ploys.

[6]

#7 Comment By Jason C. On July 12, 2013 @ 11:18 am

That parish is St. Cyril and Methodius.

#8 Comment By loudonisafool On July 12, 2013 @ 11:54 am

The Cascadian Dark Ale is a pretty great strong and complex beer. Big hop nose with what seemed to be an estery fruitiness; but that might have been the Chinook hops rather than the yeast.

#9 Comment By bigKirb On July 12, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

I find blasphemy and sacrilege incredibly appealing. I’ll have to try some.

I really enjoy craft beers, but shy away from those that try to be too clever or with labels that are really artsy fartsy. If it’s obvious that the brewery spent a significiant amount of time on the label it makes me instinctively think that they are over compensating for skunky beer. see: Schmaltz

#10 Comment By EngineerScotty On July 12, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

At the risk of increasing the levels of blasphemy in this thread, how about “graven image” beer?

After, “icon” and “idol” don’t differ by much. 🙂

#11 Comment By AnglicanPeggy On July 12, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

I’m also a little uncomfortable with the idea of using “icon” as a marketing strategy for a commercial product. Are they using an image based on the actual icon?

The one thing that makes me willing to overlook that discomfort is the power of icons to evangelize no matter the context. To use a slightly related example, my former parish used an icon of our patron saint in our newspaper advertising. It was the most successful ad campaign the church ever had and a lot of people remarked that the ad had really caught their eye and was very distinctive. I myself was deeply impressed with its use on the church’s website when I was first checking the parish out. What if an icon’s use, however slight, in a campaign to sell beer awakens something in someone who buys it? I just wouldn’t count that possibility out. Icons are just that powerful.

#12 Comment By Woody On July 12, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

Rod, in case you had not seen this particluar thing, I sent through to you via email from this site a photo of cases of Dreher Beer, taken in Budapest recently. All the best.

#13 Comment By Kris D On July 12, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

So what would you do with a bottle of Frangelico or Benedictine?