As we celebrate this Easter and commemorate Jesus’ passing and rising, Team BrewSmith began to consider what it might have been like to be in his shoes:
“How hot was it in Galilee?”
“Forty days in the desert? Surely he brought something to drink…”
“Why were the Romans so fashionable?”, and
“Did he even have shoes? I thought he wore sandals…”
…were a few questions flying around. Naturally, the conversation drifted towards beer, and we were forced to consider what Jesus might brew. We know that Jesus had dabbled in wine making but did he ever make or even drink beer? Here’s what we found in our research:
During Jesus’ time in the Middle East, there was no refrigeration, so fermentation was a common way of preserving water and reducing the risk of infection and disease
- According to the bible, Jesus was a “user of alcoholic beverages” (Luke 7:33-34)
- Jesus was also referred to having drunk ‘Strong Drink’ which was fermented grain and water resembling beer
- Strong Drink was commonly brewed in households at the time
- The bible reports Jesus to have drunk wine (and also famously turned water into wine)
- However, hops were not recognized at this time and the ‘strong drink’ was drunk quickly after it was brewed. It would have been low in alcohol, fairly cloudy, and quite rich in nutrition!
So what’s a modern equivalent? Strong Drink was widespread, all-natural, fairly bready, and judging from the low alcohol content, quite sessionable. We think beers with a big portion of biscuit and Vienna malt will lend a hearty, grainy taste and probably come closest to Strong Drink of the biblical times.
Conclusion: Jesus most certainly drank beer, and probably made his own Strong Drink, but it was not nearly as tasty as beer is today. He’d probably prefer amber Belgian ales, English bitters or brown ales, and probably barley-wines as well. These would be the closest modern equivalent beers, and are easy to brew in warmer climates.
Let us close with a Proverb.
Proverbs 31:4-7 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
Happy Easter, everyone!