Unfortunately, beer is still regarded as a slovenly drink consumed by low brow, knuckle dragging meat heads.  Personally, I believe this stereotype has it’s roots in the prejudices of the past and in modern marketing.  When waves of poor immigrants (i.e. German or Irish) came to the United States, out of necessity, they built breweries so they could easily enjoy their favorite beverage. These immigrants were typically viewed as crass and unintelligent.  Modern marketing tends to portray beer as stupid but fun.  Think about it:  When’s the last time you saw a Bud Light commercial that portrayed a handful of chic and attractive mathematicians enjoying each others’ company, attempting to solve an impossible equation, and sipping on a Bud Light?  No?  Silly frogs croaking BUD – WEIS – ER?  Bingo.
We all know the stereotype is far from true, but nonetheless, our hearts warm when we see beer act as a facilitator to some of the deeper aspects of life.   I became giddy this past week as I stumbled across such an example at Schlafly’s News and Events portion of their website that broke the “low brow stereotype” and a few others.  The event is “Theology at Bottleworks.  Instantly, having majored in Theology, I was interested.

The event seems simple.  From the website:

This forum meets the fourth Wednesday of each month and discusses the tough issues of our day. Free and open to all perspectives. Come grab a brew, give your view, and lend an ear to others. 7:00-9:00 p.m. More info at www.midrashstl.com.

From the Midrash website the event is further defined:

Theology at the Bottleworks is a monthly event where we discuss issues relevant to the culture we live in, including topics that range from the economy and global warming to beauty and evil. Depending on the topic and the time of the year, attendance can be anywhere from 40 – 140 people.

THEOLOGY AT THE BOTTLEWORKS – Wednesday, November 24th 2010 -”Death Penalty On Trial”
This is the most diverse and lively public discussion in town. Our topic is “The Death Penalty on Trial.” We’ll discuss the latest legal and ethical developments on capital punishment as well as the fundamental issues involved, including individual rights, state’s interests and moral, ethical and sociological ramifications. Come grab a brew, give your view, and lend an ear to others’. Free and open to all views and perspectives. Join us on Wednesday, September 22nd 2010 from 7-9 pm at the Schlafly Bottleworks.

Hmmm…an intellectual discussion on the morality of corporal punishment, lex talionis, and the death penalty facilitated by good craft beer, hosted at a craft brewery?  Hardly low brow.  Additionally, the events shows how beer can positively bring peace to touchy subjects.  Try discussing global warming amongst a diverse group without the beer and see what happens.  Tempers flare, feelings are hurt, indignation rises…But, when each interlocutor has the common bond of a cherished beer in hand, camaraderie accommodates a more calm and effective discussion.

The event also shows that beer and religion are highly compatible, and that, unlike the proponents of the prohibition (and many neo prohibitionists of today), all men/women of faith are not sticks in the mud on a mission to sling judgment as the stroll past a bar (or Schlafly’s Bottleworks).

I wish something like this existed here in Kansas City! Perhaps our own Boulevard would open up their tasting room?