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Orthodox Heretic Brewing: Saint Anselm’s English Porter

This traditional English porter is named for the great doctor of the church, Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109). Although born in northern Italy, Anselm is best known as the Archbishop of Canterbury, a post for which he reluctantly left the cloistered life of the monastery. His time as Primate of the English church was as stormy as the climate of British Isle itself. Anselm went head to head with the kings of his day over the investiture controversy, a battle between church and state over who had the rightful authority to appoint Bishops and Abbotts. It is unclear which side coined the phrase, “Thou art not the boss of I.”

Anselm is one of the great, influential thinkers in the history of the church. His definition of theology as fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding) stands even today. Anselm also gifted (or cursed depending on you ask) the church with the penal substitutionary theory of the atonement. In his famous treatise Curs Deus Homo (Why God Was Man) Anselm dialogues with his student Boso (I kid you not) that the whole point of Jesus’ (the son) death on the cross was a sacrifice to God (the father) for the sins of humanity. Infanticide much!!!

Source: pinterest.com

He is perhaps best known for his ontological argument for the existence of God. The theorem continues to baffle theologians, philosophers and first year seminarians to this very day. He defined God as, “That than which nothing greater can be thought.”  If we can conceive of an all powerful being in our minds, even if one is an atheist, then one must acknowledge that that divine being exists in reality. If it only exists in the mind then a greater being must exist in reality. Therefore, this greatest possible being must exist in reality.

At this point stop, take a sip of your favourite brew, preferably an English porter, reread the proof, take another sip, reread and repeat until the proof makes sense.

Porter ales originated in the British Isles and are the ancestor to our modern day stouts like Guinness and Murphy’s. Though there is no proof that Anselm was imbiber of British ale, its probably a safe bet that he would say, “The fool says in his heart there is no God … and no need of beer!”  This English Porter is Anselm approved, dark and brooding like any great intellectual.  Its brewed from dark malts that give it a rich, spicy taste of coffee and caramel, mild sweetness and medium hopped taste.

So don’t be a dunce (or a Boso) and raise a pint to the blessed St. Anselm, Doctor Magnificus, unofficial patron saint of theology nerds and porter connoisseurs everywhere.



ABV: 5%  IBU: 30.2

Pairings: Medium rare steak; steak and kidney pie; ripe, old cheddar cheese; fresh baked sourdough bread; dark chocolate.


Michael P. Foley, Drinking With the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour (Regnery: Washington, DC, 2015).

Charlie Papazian, The Complete Joy of Home Brewing: Fourth Edition (William Morrow: New York, 2014).

Bob Bridle, ed, Home Brew Beer: A Step by Step Guide to Making Your Own Beer (DK Publishing; New York, 2013).


Reposted with permission from Neo(un)Orthodoxy [1].