Remember this wise counsel: In times of tainted water, beer is the great giver of life.
That’s straight from the patron saint of hop-pickers and Belgian brewers himself: Arnold of Soissons, more commonly known as St. Arnold.
He’s the man at the heart of the Feast of Saint Arnold, a family friendly (yes, really) beer festival with live music, food vendors, tours of the 1920s-era historical property and mansion and plenty of stuff for kids to do. It’s Saturday at the Chapel of Our Saviour, 8 Fourth St.
“The people of Metz were chronically ill, and Arnold had an epiphany from the Lord,” said Steve Brown, who plays St. Arnold during the event. “It said, ‘Don’t drink the water; drink the beer.’ They did, and their heath improved. In medieval times, plain water wasn’t necessarily safe to drink. Beer sanitized the water. Beer is a wonderful way to preserve your grain crop. It’s liquid bread.”
The historic figure, who lived circa 1040 to 1087, was the bishop of Metz in northeastern France. He was a reluctant bishop, though, who finally committed to the gig bestowed upon him after he threw his bishop’s ring into the river, declaring that if God wanted him to be bishop, he’d return the ring. Sure enough, a short time later, somebody caught a fish, found the ring in its belly and brought it to Arnold, thus sealing his fate.
Brown knows all the stories about the famous bishop, and he relishes regaling the crowd with them as he dons a bishop’s costume and mingles with festival attendees.
“That’s the job,” he said. “Be out there and be present. It’s the beer fest version of Ronald McDonald.”
Saturday’s popular event, which attracts upwards of 1,300 people, will feature more than 30 varieties of that liquid bread, all from Colorado brewers, along with winemakers and distilleries.
Proceeds from the event are split between Chapel of Our Saviour’s other charities and Westside CARES, a nonprofit that provides basic services to people and families in crises who live west of I-25. Last year, Westside CARES helped more than 26,000 people.
As Arnold, Brown speculates that the saint’s favorite brew was a gruit ale, a “nice, unique varietal.” But as a mere mortal, he must exercise caution in quantities consumed, as the day is long and usually sun-drenched.
“He’s such a cheerful guy. There’s a good mood about the place. It’s nice to be affirming and give thumbs up and bless people. There’s a lot of good cheer. It’s an event with good spirit and purpose and cheer.”