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Friday, October 17, 2008

A Cross to Bare: "Godisgood"

A recent article on the 27th Great American Beer Festival lead me to The Lost Abbey of San Marsoc, California (I traveled by world wide web, not actually in person).

Standing under a banner promising "Inspired beers for Saints and Sinners Alike," proprietor and former altar boy Tomme Arthur had a confession: He's using God to sell some beer.

"It's the oldest story ever told — the struggle between good and evil," said Arthur, 35, a product of Catholic schools, "There is a battle being waged between those who make good beer and those who make evil beer."

According to, ERIC GORSKI | AP Religion Writer:

Charlie Papazian, author of "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing," the undisputed bible of the craft, can cite many intersections of beer and the divine. Mayan and Aztec priests controlled the brewing of beer in pre-Columbian days, monks in Bavaria brewed strong bocks for sustenance during Lent and the first brewery in the Americas was founded by Belgium monks in Ecuador in 1534.

Before Louis Pasteur pinpointed yeast as the culprit in the 1850s, brewers didn't know what caused fermentation, said Papazian, president of the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association. So they invented one run-on word to describe the mysterious stuff at the bottom of the bottle: "Godisgood."

"As you drain a glass of beer, look at the yeast at the bottom and be reminded that God is good, because that's the way it feels," Papazian said.

Which leads me back to the The Lost Abbey of San Marsoc, California. Their tap handle is a Celtic cross. Now, I can’t say that the historical facts from their web site are, well, factual. But, here goes:

Every brewery project starts with a set of beers and a need to be able to identify them. In developing a portfolio of beers paying homage to Monastic Brewing traditions, we felt it was important to integrate some classic images into our logo and artwork. You will find that in The Lost Abbey artwork we have incorporated the Irish or Celtic cross. Though we will not be making beers solely in the Irish Tradition, we felt it was important to adopt this icon for numerous reasons.

The Celtic and Irish cross shape itself has been widely used by many ancient peoples, long before the arrival of Christianity. Its four arms were perfect for denoting the four elements, the four directions of the compass, and the four parts of man - mind, body, soul and heart. Brewing was once a very seasonal activity centered around the four seasons of each year as well. Working as brewers, we are also acutely aware of the four main ingredients that are used in the brewing process- Barley, Water, Yeast and Hops. There are also four founding partners working on this brewery project. Everywhere we turned, there were relationships of four we felt it was important to remember.

The addition of the ring around the cross making it Celtic in origin played a major role in our adoption as a symbol for The Lost Abbey. The ring around the cross has many explanations. An Irish legend tells how St. Patrick created the first Celtic cross by drawing a circle over a Latin cross to incorporate a pagan moon goddess symbol. For an Irish Catholic, the circle in the Celtic cross may be a symbol of eternity. The addition of a pagan moon goddess symbol reminds us that life is made up of those who believe and those who choose not to believe. It is quite certain that there will be those who choose to believe in The Lost Abbey and those who will not. The ring around the cross connects the elements of brewing together and each of the four pie shapes which make up the circle represent the commitment of the four founding partners to this project.

For us, the circle joins the four points of the cross with a fifth element that Gina, Jim, Tomme and Vince believe represents the spirit of the people that will energize The Lost Abbey on a daily basis. This notion of five points will extend to the brewing process where the traditional 4 brewing ingredients will be combined with this radiating circle resulting in fifth ingredient that we know as Passion. The Celtic cross we are using was developed by our artist Sean Dominguez. On each point you will find one of the traditional four brewing ingredients (barley, yeast, hops and water). Each of these four ingredients is then tied to one another through the circle of passion that binds this project (end).

You can read more about The Lost Abbey at:

And at:

While alcohol and religion don't always mix, no less a figure than our old friend Ben Franlklin, once said: "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar


  1. Hey Big B... that must be the perfect holy trinity of KMSA blogging in there...

    1 ) Beer
    2 ) Metaphysics
    3 ) The Old Country History

    All in one blog!! . can't top that.

    Sir D ( My work here is almost done) of O

  2. Indeed! The holy trinity of KMSA! And then the 4th element. My Cheerokee ancestors taught me to offer the prayer to the Great Spirit by smoking a pipe and blowing the smoke with your prayer to the four points of North, East, South and West to represent the eternal. I often do this be hoisting a great bee, as I am now at The Pub in Cincinnati, OH. Old Speckled Hen, great music and good doesn't get much better than this! Godisgood!
    Sir Hook the Abbott of the Lost from Warrick

  3. As you can tell... I've been hoisting a lot of bees...I meant beers!
    Sir Hook the Tongue Tied and Spell Check Challenged of Warrick