Friday, January 4, 2008

Session 11: My Life With Goats

This month's Session crept up on me, I admit it. That's sad because of my affinity for the subject matter, Doppelbocks. Today the weather has taken a turn for the obscene, with gusts of wind in the 50 mph range, causing the rain to fly sideways more than fall vertically. It is winter, I suppose, nothing to do but wait out the storm and hope for the best.

The Session: 11 - Doppelbock
hosted by Brewvana

One of my favorite books of all time is Godric, by Frederick Buechner. Its opening sentence reads "Five friends I had, and two of them snakes". The story is of a haggard old monk with a lifetime of adventures and few regrets, a monk with attitude who loved making other monks blush with his life's stories. In the latter years of his life he'd wade into the middle of the icy river Wear to freeze his nuts off, a sort of crazed ritual done to harness the ever wandering desires of the old monk. His life, as told by Beuchner, is now limited to dank and dreary quarters with few comforts.

I often wish I were like Godric. I started my adult life with ambitions of joining the priesthood, secluded and stashed away to study my Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic while discussing the subtleties of proper hermeneutics. I never quite fit in though, often clashing with authorities and challenging the leadership more than they wanted. Like Godric, I loved telling stories of my youth, my several arrests and life with the less pretty of our society, those I still love to be around. Yes, I still long for this life in some ways, I still have a great passion for theology and historical biblical studies. For me, Godric is and always will be a personal hero - even if a fictitious one.

Were it my story, however, the opening line of my life's memoir would read "five friends I had, two were goats". And in my life's travels these goats would be with me, at my side, joining in my pleasures. You've probably pieced it together by now, my "goats" that is. Doppelbocks, a superior beer in my mind. I simply can't think of a better beer to hold in the dark and damp quarters of life than the comforting and pleasurable beer originally made by monks centuries ago - probably in their own dark and damp quarters that afforded few pleasures.

Imagine it for a minute. A life of solitude, vows of chastity and charity and complete devotion to the mystical. A few times a year you'd skip daily meals, relying only on two of your best friends for nourishment. I suppose I'd like to see one of these goats named Plarao (play-rah-oh), which is Greek for "Fulfillment", as doppelbocks were designed to be just that. As the monks' liquid bread, it would be their sustenance for their fasts, and I can't help but imagine it was used in their celebrations - making Celebrator a more than appropriate name for goat number two.

Yes, that would be my life with goats. As it is, I am an editor for a national beer magazine. I've traded in much of my Greek to understand another mystical passion, the art and science of fermentation. It isn't a bad life and it's great to live a life with more than a couple goats and a few friends. While doppelbocks are truly a beer of beauty and wonder, I'm happy there's more to my beer life.