Celebrating Belgian Independence Day With Saint Arnold!
July 21st is Belgian Independence Day! Belgium received their independence after seceding from The Netherlands in 1815, and everyone probably celebrated the same way we all will this month…with beer! But back then beer wasn’t just a fun and delicious way to celebrate, it was also a clean healthy alternative to the less potable water of the day. And who was one of the biggest proponents encouraging the people to improve their health and partake? Belgium’s own Saint Arnold of Soissons!
Saint Arnold was born in 580, and definitely earned his place as the Patron Saint of Hop Pickers and Belgian Brewers. In fact he is still often depicted holding a mashing rake, used in the distilling process. After years of service in the military and the church he founded the Abbey of St. Peter in Oudenburg. It was here that he began brewing beer. He encouraged local peasants to drink more beer for its health giving properties. Unbeknownst to him, or anyone else at the time, these health giving properties were actually a result of boiling the water used to make the beer. By boiling the water, the brewers were cleaning it of natural pathogens.
But where does Saint Arnold stand out when it comes to beer? How did he take his love for brewing to the level of Sainthood? After his death at a monastery in France, Saint Arnold’s body was being transported to its final resting place in the town of Metz, where he so often preached the joys of beer. It was a long journey, and many a thirsty pilgrim needed refreshment. As they entered a tavern seeking refreshment, they were informed that there was not enough beer for everyone. Luckily Saint Arnold had a miracle up his sleeve. The one mug of beer that was left never ran dry and quenched the entire crowd’s thirst!
So in celebration of Belgian Independence Day and bottomless mugs of beer, we thank Saint Arnold for sharing his love of beer with the world. For anyone looking to celebrate this great holiday in style we recommend either joining us here at The Ginger Man on the 18th for our Belgian Tasting event, or heading over to Brussels where he is still celebrated with annual parades!
“From man’s sweat and god’s love, beer came into the world” – Saint Arnold