Bethlehem Brew Works

Feeling as if I was heading into the biblical land of Israel, because of names like Nazareth, Emmaus, and Bethlehem, I loaded the camel and headed to the Bethlehem Brew Works. No there was no star above guiding me. But, there was a star and a gear shaft at BBW’s (the logo) denoting both Bethlehem’s religious and industrial heritage :

Wonder how long it will be until the ACLU takes the city to court to change its name. Sounds awfully church and statish. Here is a link to its history. The town has restored the main drag, yet it does not take long, if you get off the gilded path, to see the effects of the economic apocalypse in town with the demise of Bethlehem Steel. Makes me wonder if the star and the gear are more a memory than anything.

This plant was knocked down to build, what else, a casino:

There is still another rusting plant that is standing in town…sad, an industrial icon from a prosperous age.  Like a star that has burnt out.

On a cheerier note, Here is a constellation of BBW Beers, note star and gear beer holder:

I liked the Stumbling Monk the best.

Saw this sign outside of a church that clearly had religious exhortation in mind rather than libational:

Reminded me of this Bible verse:

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 51:1.

Modern self-righteous Pharisees seemingly really hate that the Bible itself promotes the wise and moderate enjoyment of alcoholic beverages. For Literalists, theirs is an odd reaction.  It is godly to frown upon drunkenness, just as it would be to look negatively upon gluttony. The latter of which many modern day religious moralists have avoided following as evidence by their expansive guts and plenteous girths. I concur that if the monk is stumbling because of the brew, he needs to get on his knees and pray to God for self-control. Many good things go bad in extreme

Going to Bethlehem…I did so with trepidation. Here is why.

Last time I was in Bethlehem, a guy ran up to me, punched me, and broke my nose. Blood, the whole deal. No foolin’.Very Old Testament.

OK, I was on a rugby field. But, really, is that anyway to treat a visitor? I was the biggest and tallest player on Lancaster Red Rose. I think Bethlehem figured that if they sent a knuckle message to my nose, me and the entire team might just be taken aback and play as if we were intimidated. It worked…it was a long, hard day. We got thrashed. Nothing quite as bad as getting both one’s body and psyche pummeled for a couple of hours on a hot Saturday afternoon.

Bethlehem RFC may have remembered me from the previous year when I played for Brandywine Rugby and we beat on them. I inflicted my share of punishment on the lads, big boys as they were. Brandywine RFC just hurt people, plain and simple. When I went to grad school at Millersville, I switched teams to Lancaster Red Rose RFC, considerably less ferocious than my prior club. As the say, pay back is a female dog. Lancaster was a small and fast team, Brandywine was a small and mean team. We used to swarm tackle like a mob. I think Bethlehem figured that with a small fast team, if you caught ’em, you beat on ’em. Has a way of slowing a person down.

The teaming of rugby and beer, is like Reese’s Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Part social, part anesthetic, part for thirst-quenching, part pure hell-raising, never will you see men drink more beer than at a rugby match post-game party. Enemies on the pitch, best friends at the bar. Speaking of non-drinking, for a while in my mid-to-late twenties–several years in fact–I did not drink a drop of alcohol. That made me and another guy on Brandywine the freak brothers. I also did not drink when I played for  Lancaster. I never met any other rugby players who did not drink beer. It was like being a Republican and belonging to the Sierra Club. I just did not happen. I am serious…

So, in dressing leaving for Bethlehem, I left my form rugby jerseys at home in  the closet as to not inspire other premeditated violence against my now frail frame. My rugby days ended with a double-concussion and a cut above my right eye requiring 15 stitches. Being that I cannot see out of my left eye with any sense of minimal competency, I thought it wise to retire. Watching the film Invictus last night caused me to long for the pitch once again. That feeling must pass…cannot yet afford to be disabled visually for the rest of my life…like Brando’s character in On the Waterfront, I could have been a contender. Not to be.

After drinking me beers at BBW, a big storm was supposed to blow through the town. So, like the good Midwestern boy that I am (and as I was trained to do in St. Louis, Missouri as a child),  I headed below ground to the lowest point in the building. There I  entered Keystone Homebrew Supply. I had a fine chat there with two gents, John and Jeremy, about all things beer.

I walked out a wiser man.


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