Recently I was talking with a friend of mine who homebrews and also happens to be a fantastic priest. I thought it would be interesting to have Father Kyle Schnippel give us his take on the glory that is homebrewing. Father Kyle was ordained in 2004 and serves as the Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. You can find him on Twitter @fatherschnippel.

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Hello!  Don’t change that channel, your regular host will be back shortly, but Sarah was kind enough to allow me to fill in a ‘guest post’ over here at Catholic Drinkie. I’m honored to be asked!

I am Fr. Kyle Schnippel and work as Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and have done so since July of 2006. Shortly after I started in the Office, I began my own adventures into the wild world of St. Blogosphere’s with the publication of Called by Name, a blog for some thoughts on vocations, general Church life and a place for me to meander through quiet afternoons.

However, after a few years of blogging, I reluctantly joined the ‘New Wave’ of Web 2.0 and joined up to Facebook and Twitter.  With the ease of use, I publish way more content there lately than Called by Name, so feel free to look me up and ‘give me a follow.’

So, I think I have covered the Catholic and Social Media aspects of this little foray to Catholic Drinkie, but what about that whole ‘drinkie’ part?

Father Kyle's lastest beers

Well, it started when I needed a hobby and was getting upset that after Christmas of last year, I could not find any more of those strong, spiced, Christmas and Holiday ales. A buddy of mine was a homebrewer … (Can you see where this is going?) What finally set me over the edge was visiting a friend in New York City last spring, and lo and behold, in their tiny apartment, they homebrewed!  As a gathering of priests was also present, a Vocation Director from a neighboring diocese mentioned that his aunt and uncle owned a home brew store, and well; let’s just say it was my ‘follow the star’ moment and I soon was driving home with a trunk stuffed with carboys, fermenters, jugs and bottles, ready to begin the wild adventure into homebrewing myself.

Off I went, starting with some simpler entries of a porter and a witbier, I soon found that my appetite loved these new creations I was making and wanted to get deeper and deeper into this little hobby. (Caveat: like any hobby, you can get as deep into things as you want, including costs!)

From that initial Porter and Witbier, I have produced Imperial Stout, Scottish Ale, Wee Heavy, Pumpkin, Red Ale, another Porter, among other things; and am shortly bottling an imperial stout that has been aging for a month in a small bourbon barrel, my mouth is already watering!

As word has gotten out about my little ‘hobby,’ I have had to answer a few questions as to why I am doing such a thing, I mean it does take time and I do not always have that in abundance, you know? A few answers readily present themselves:

  1. As a priest in general and as Vocation Director in particular, it can sometimes be difficult to see the results of one’s labor. I can work with a guy for several years prior to his entering the seminary; or maybe he never enters, or enters and leaves; is that the path God wanted him to be on? If so, did I say and do the right things to help him?  I scatter a lot of seeds, and see so few ripen before me, it can be frustrating. Having a hobby that takes some time, some brain power, and cooperates with God’s divine plan in a tangible way can break some of the frustration that naturally occurs with this position.
  2. Wait, what, did you say ‘cooperates with God’s plan’ in the previous paragraph? Yes, I did. Beer is, after all, alive! (No, this isn’t just a clever slogan by Guinness, beer is actually alive!) The heart of what makes beer beer is a living thing: yeast. The art of homebrewing is creating an environment where the yeast can survive and thrive. But ultimately, when you pitch that yeast into a five gallon batch of wort (pre-fermented beer), a little prayer never hurts that the yeast will wake from their slumber and do what God intended: turn simple sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide!
  3. I get to share! The best part of homebrewing is that I get to share my creation with others. I have invited friends over to brew with me, I have brought supplies to parties, doors have been opened at airports and other venues; and let’s face it, who doesn’t like to talk about beer????

Interestingly, so often in my work as Vocation Director, I talk about the initial call that God gives to each person; they way we answer His Divine Call, is by giving life; after all is not this one of the reasons that Jesus came? (I have come so that you may have life, and have it abundantly!) When we share something that we have toiled to create; when we share something that is a reflection of who we are; we share a bit of our life with others. And that makes it way more than just brewing a few batches of beer, it makes us one with the fellowship of the Saints.

Let us rejoice in God’s many gifts, that we might share them generously!