There are many beer holidays scattered throughout the year that give us reason to drink heartily but today is unlike any other because today we celebrate Saint Arnold, the patron saint of brewers, the guy who gave people a legit excuse to drink beer.
Saint Arnold is not one person. There are at least three people known by this name who all carry similar legends. What should be recognized is the fact that Saint Arnold brought beer to the masses and we pay homage to the home brewers who are actively doing the same thing. There is no official, church-recognized Saint Arnold's Day, but it is generally accepted that it is July 18.
In Medieval times, food and beverage sanitation was not widely practiced, thus food-borne sickness was very common. Along came Arnold of Metz who preached to local peasants to drink beer rather than water because it was boiled, thus rendering the liquid safe from any pathogens (and because boiled water is just no fun to drink).
Legend has it that he ended a plague after he dipped his crucifix into a brew kettle and told people to drink only from the "blessed" kettle.
A similar story is told of Arnold of Soissons, who came at least 400 years after Arnold of Metz, although the former is typically depicted with a mash rake in hand. Arnold of Soissons is more typically associated as the patron saint of hop-pickers. He is also said to have improved the process of brewing by using straw cones as a filter to clarify beer.
Then there is a third Saint Arnold that, depending on the source, could be distinguished from the previous two. Arnou of Oudenaarde was known to multiply beer into vast quantities through blessing and prayer. According to legend, he once successfully appealed to God to bring cold beer for the soldiers to drink during a 11th century battle in Flanders, Belgium.
In recognition of dear Saint Arnold, we pay homage here to our own homebrewers - those who do it purely for the love of beer and those who hope to go pro.
Fort Lauderdale Area Brewers, better known simply as FLAB, are some of Broward's OGs of brewing. A friendly rivalry, this group competes every year against the Miami Area Society of Homebrewers for the Coconut Cup title held in March. Their brews have won several awards from the American Homebrewers Assocation. Interested in joining FLAB? They meet the second Wednesday of every month at Geronimos in Davie at 7 p.m.
Opus Ales have been showing up around the South Florida beer scene, pouring their Latin American-inspired beers such as Sin Verguenza, or "shameless". They know that South Floridians are becoming spoiled with great craft beer, that's why they brew great stuff. Keep tabs on their Facebook page to see where and when they are pouring next.
This group of homebrewers in West Palm Beach are already making themselves known in the scene. They've won several awards for their beers, including a silver medal for their Belgian tripel at Miami's local Coconut Cup homebrew competition and two bronze medals for their imperial Stout and American dark lager at the Hogtown Brewers brewing competition. They also have a company in the works.
A home-brewing club coming straight out of Hollywood, they derive their inspiration from the various non-native species invading our land. They aren't a company, but brew for the pure love of craft beer. They don't brew any beer from invasive species (not yet anyway), but they did brew a cucumber and black pepper saison while in Austria.
Dylan Block works at his family's textile distribution company in the Wynwood District in Miami, but brews craft beer along with his brother at the Blockhead Brewery in Cooper City in their spare time. With their setup, they brew beers like White Thai affair, a Belgian white with Thai basil, spearmint, tangerine, and Indian coriander.
Ross Allen and AJ Guerra named their group after--you guessed it--the 90s rap phenomenon, 2 Live Crew. They have no scruples about what they put in their mash: donuts, oreos, graham crackers, etc. They also cloned a Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog Brewery (and by the way, happy b-day Mr. Thompson). They definitely push the limits of the beer category, but whatever it takes for delicious brew. Uncle Luke would be so proud!
Firefighters by day and brewers by night, Mark Fee, Eric Guerrero, Jeff Evans of Angry Union won the Paul and Young Ron homebrewing competition back in May with a Belgian strong ale with cherry and coriander notes. Angry Union, too, has formed a brewing company. They have been slowly taking over the world, spreading their logo all across the globe. Angry Union is everywhere.
It looks like Boca Raton will get to see another brewery once Lagerhead Brewing is up and running. Brothers Steve and Tim Dornblaser, along with Daniel Paulus and Frank Conrad comprise Lagerhead Brewing and have been pouring at beer festivals across South Florida. They were recently at the Palm Beach Craft Beer Festival and will also be pouring at the Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest on July 20 at the South Florida Fairgrounds. If you're not too busy, try their coffee pot porter.
Happy Saint Arnold's Day and be sure to thank your local craft brewer for bringing awesome beer to the masses.
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