Local brewery creates the perfect beer for St. James Parish

When Father Marvin Volk was asked to bless a new brand of beer, one created specifically for St. James Parish in Millstadt, he said he was pretty sure he could find a beer blessing.

“The Church has a long history, we bless everything from medicine to cheese to seeds to food and drink. Why wouldn’t we bless beer? It is part of God’s good creation, and a wonderful gift for human enjoyment.”

Speaking at a Beer Blessing at Millpond Brewing and Incubator on Dec. 16, Father Marvin said that ever since Jesus of Nazareth changed water into wine at the Wedding at Cana, the Catholic Church has supported the enjoyment of alcohol-as long as it is done with responsibility and moderation.

Father Marvin then went on to give the blessing:
“Lord, bless this creature beer, which by your kindness and power has been produced from kernels of grain, and let it be a healthful drink for mankind. Grant that whoever drinks it with thanksgiving to your holy name may find it a help in body and in soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The blessing was held to celebrate the launch of a new beer- one created especially for St. James Parish.

The beer is called Benedictus, which is Latin for “Blessed.” The name was the idea of parishioners Alan Hucke and Madonna Stapf.

Benedictus is a German-style kolsch, which befits a community founded by 19th century German immigrants who loved their beer.

“We feel doing this beer blessing and fundraiser is a unique way to incorporate our parish, the traditions of the Catholic Church, and a local business,” says Hucke.

The beer was blessed when production started, so it is still fermenting, Hucke says.

Benedictus is brewed by Bryan and Lizzy Schubert, owners of Millpond Brewing and Incubator.

Unlike most craft brewers, Millpond works with homebrewers, providing them an opportunity to brew their recipes and offer it for sale to the public. Since they have the necessary machinery and equipment, such as stepladders and platforms (you can learn more about them here if you are also a brewery interested in getting some for the premises), they have the means to produce larger quantities of the homebrewers’ recipes, so their creations will be able to reach more and more craft beer fans.

The concept of Millpond Brewing and Incubator was developed alongside Bryan’s brother-in-law Jeremy Schueler.

“Homebrewers are a creative, passionate, and extremely talented bunch but can’t efficiently showcase their talents to the masses,” Bryan says. Millpond fills that need.

Bryan grew up in Millstadt and attended St. James Catholic School. He served as the school’s basketball coach for more than a decade.

Bryan said the idea to brew a beer for St. James Parish came from Madonna Stapf as a tie-in with the annual St. James School Auction.

After the beer was brewed there was just one thing left to do.

“It seemed appropriate to have Father Marvin bless the production as well as the product,” Bryan said.

Bryan says he worked with St. James parishioners Stapf, Hucke, Molly Branz and others to find just the right beer for St. James.

“We wanted a beer that was exclusive to St. James,” he said. “We’ve made quite a few lagers, but we hadn’t made a kolsch yet at Millpond. We presented them with a few options. The kolsch is a very popular beer that appeals to a lot of people. It is crisp and freshing and it is brewed like an ales.”

The beer will be officially released Jan. 16.

“We are combining the release with an event called ‘Soup and Brew,’ at the brewery,” Hucke says. “Several of us will be bringing soup that day, and parishioners as well as those who ordered the beer can come by for a free bowl of soup and fellowship. ”

The beer was available for pre-purchase as 4 packs of 16 ounce cans at the St. James auction. About 110 four packs were pre-purchased at the auction.

Bryan said it just seemed right for Millpond to make a beer for their home parish.

Asked if other parishes could get their own beer brewed at Millpond, Bryan demurred.

“I think it would be pretty difficult to open it up to other parishes,” Bryan said. “I would encourage them to contact their local craft brewery. Most places have one these days.”