Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pigeon River's Anniversary & St. Arnold's Feast Day

If you need a reason to raise your glass on this muggy Tuesday, I’ve got one for you:

July 18th is Pigeon River Brewing Company’s 5th anniversary.

It’s also the feast day of St. Arnold of Metz, the patron saint of brewers (including Nate!).

A sixth century Austrian monk, St. Arnold (or “Arnulf” depending on the translation) encouraged people to drink beer rather than water. In those times, unclean water caused many illnesses. Beer, however, was much safer due to the boiling process killing bacteria and yeast cultures preventing future bacterial contamination. Indeed, the saint likely saved many lives—and brought great cheer—through his advice to “drink beer, not water.” He’s also accredited with saying, “From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world,” a phrase which has become the unofficial motto of Pigeon River.

Fourteen centuries later, we’re still encouraging people to drink beer, and I’m so grateful to have a patron saint like St. Arnold to make me feel better about this unconventional lifestyle.

The brewery is not just a business; it’s an extension of our family, and has been from the beginning. Five years ago, on the feast of St. Arnold of Metz, not only did we open our doors for business, we also found out we were expecting our first baby. More than the other children, Louisa became a bar-fly baby. In those early days, she spent many Saturdays in a jumper behind the bar, getting to know the regulars. Living on premise, we were always beckoned into the bar to greet customers, and the kids grew accustomed to the sweet smell of mash.

When we moved to our new house, Lou was surprised that it didn’t include a tapline. We don’t frequent the bar as often as we used to, but still one of the kids’ favorite books is “Goodnight Brew,” I occasionally waitress a fish fry, and date nights usually involve the brewery.

So maybe we’re not the typical Christian family, but I’m pretty sure our patron is raising a glass to us from Heaven.

I have a feeling he’s also been intercessing on our behalf. Starting a business can be extremely difficult on a marriage and family, and we’re no exception. At times, building a dream and putting a product into the world left us feeling raw and vulnerable. Grueling hours, last-minute call-ins, and growing faster than our cash flow or schedules could support took their toll. On more than one occasion, I wanted to throw in the towel.

Five years later, I thank God for the grace to persevere, and St. Arnold for his intercession.

As in any worthwhile pursuit, the rewards are proving greater than the struggle. The look on a satisfied customer's face, an award at a beer festival, the ability to provide our employees a livelihood, and our children's grasp of the value of hard work is what keeps us going. Truly,“from man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world."

Raise your glass to St. Arnold and Pigeon River! Prost!

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