First of all, thank you for looking at this blog. Since you got this far, I assume you have some interest, so I will share some of my life story.
Belgian, award winning home brewer, Certified Cicerone and active Christian. If you want to know how that all comes together, read on.
I am a European immigrant who grew up in the northern part of Belgium, also known as Flanders, in a small town called Leuven. There are three things that are omni present in Flanders: Roman Catholicism, beer and food. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that those three are the main topics of this blog.
I grew up in an area on the edge of town with nothing but fields and forest bordering our backyard. As a child, our summers were filled with roaming the country side and, usually unsuccessfully, trying to stay out of trouble.My mother was a culinary teacher and good food was just an integral part of our life growing up. Not always fancy, but on special occasions, mom would go all out and prepare multi-course dinners during which the family would spend hours at the table. Conversing, joking, laughing and sharing.
With regards to my religious background, our home was a moderately strict Roman Catholic environment. All the way from kindergarten through college, I was attending Roman Catholic schools (don’t confuse this with the American concept of private schools where costs are usually prohibitive for the majority), I attended Church with all the rituals of mass somewhat faithfully, but hardly ever read the Bible. Over the years, my Christian faith slipped away and I started wondering about it all. So I just dropped it all together.
And then, thanks to a job opportunity, I moved to the United States. Not just anywhere in the United States, but Dallas, TX. One of the cities that claims to be “The Buckle of the Bible Belt”. Christianity, being saved and attending church are so much ingrained in the fabric of daily life, it was nearly impossible to not be intrigued. I met a wonderful young lady here and we got married in 1999. She is a very strong Christian, always has been, and was born and raised in a Baptist family. Needless to say, the Baptist and Roman Catholic interpretation of the Christian faith are quite opposite. Or as my mom once asked “You’re marrying a Protestant ?”. We started attending a small Bible Church in 2000, where we became members somewhere in 2001. This Church is made up of a Body of caring and loving believers and over the years we have been privileged to experience that firsthand. Since this Church provides an excellent middle ground between Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs, we have been going ever since.
On to the third passion: Beer ! Born and raised in Belgium, I remember getting sips of beer from my father. My grandpa was an accountant who ran the books for a few small breweries and inevitably those were the beers in our house (De Sleutel en Den Biertoren, both defunct now). In high school, yes legal drinking age for beer is 16, I started drinking the local lager from Leuven, Stella Artois (yes one and the same, although it doesn’t quite taste the same anymore). I must have been 18 or 19, when I went to an evening about “beer” taught by Pierre Celis and my interest was piqued to venture out and really learn how beer is made, what makes one beer different from another, etc etc.
For the beer lover in me, moving here was painful. Frankly, back in 1998, the beer market in the US sucked ! All one could find was the big three US beer makers: Budweiser, Coors and Miller. Occasionally and depending on the store, you would find some smaller American breweries or the Mexican beers the likes of Corona and Dos Equis. But the choices were limited. Home brewing seemed to be the only solution to this conundrum to get some good beers in my fridge. This all began to change about 10 years ago when one could find some decent stuff and more and more smaller breweries started to pop up. New Belgium got probably most of my business. Until about 5 years ago I had a Victory at Sea from Ballast Point and it literally made me realize there was really good stuff being made this side of the Atlantic. So the hunt was on. Then three years ago, Deep Ellum, Peticolas, Lakewood and Community happened in very rapid succession and it’s absolutely awesome what is happening in North Texas now. I took and passed the Certified Cicerone exam early 2015 and continue to be an avid home brewer and have a passion for educating those around me on all things beer.
So this blog is just one of the ways in which I am trying to share my perspectives and experiences. Many European friends ask me questions about this “American Christian thing” and are surprised about the growth of the American beer market. Many American friends are big into beer, but don’t get the whole “Can you really drink beer as a Christian” thing. So let’s combine both ! Contrary to what many people believe Christianity and enjoying good beer and food can coexist.
Once again, thanks for looking, join the crowd and don’t be shy.