Category: Drinking

How to be a Holy Drunk

A few notes on Sebastian Flyte

The early pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited describe the drunken antics of students Lord Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder (the narrator). Ryder makes the later observation that he “got drunk often, but through an excess of high spirits, in the love of the moment, and the wish to prolong and enhance it; Sebastian drank to escape.”

This difference is the same difference G.K. Chesterton touched on in his early book Heretics: “If a man drinks wine in order to obtain pleasure, he is trying to obtain something exceptional, something he does not expect every hour of the day, something which, unless he is a little insane, he will not try to get every hour of the day.”… Read the rest

Sobriety is a Sin?

The Friday “Drinking Matters” Column (BYCU)

wine glass with red wine
Photo by Posawee Suwannaphati on

Sunday marks the Feast Day of Thomas Aquinas. Well, not really. It was his Feast Day until 1969, when “they” moved it to January 28th (apparently, so it wouldn’t fall during Lent).

In his Summa Theologica, he wrote that “if a man were knowingly to abstain from wine to the extent of molesting nature grievously, he would not be free from sin.”

Many years ago, when I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, this passage prompted an email-chain discussion about whether Aquinas thought teetotalling is a sin. At least one of the participants said that wasn’t Aquinas’ position. Aquinas’ position is that every extreme that gives rise to sin must have a countervailing sin on the other extreme. So, for instance, cowardice is a sin, but so is reckless disregard for one’s safety. In this case, Aquinas pointed out that drunkenness is a sin, so there must be a sin on the other extreme, and that’s all he was saying. He wasn’t articulating what, exactly, that sin consists of, other than, if you abstain to the extent of molesting your nature, you’re in sin.

That makes sense to me.

Though it should be noted that tetotalling is a sin. Abstaining is not a sin, but teetotalling is. The difference is, tetotalling is refusal to drink alcohol on grounds that it’s evil. It’s a type of ancient Gnosticism (which thought creation evil). Abstinence, on the other hand, is a refusal to drink alcohol in pursuit of something better. The person who abstains doesn’t believe alcohol is evil, anymore than a person who declines to reads newspapers because he’d rather read more substantive fare thinks that newspapers are evil.… Read the rest

Backward Shi*t*s

Omar and the (Not So) Sacred Vine

Stories like this one are even more alarming when you remember that Iran was pretty westernized in the 1970s.

Iranian judicial authorities have demanded the execution of a 73-year-old retired pilot who was arrested for consuming alcohol.

The state-run Asr-e Iran website reported on February 21 that the representative of the prosecutor’s office in the 9th branch of Tehra’s criminal court, requested the death sentence for a 73-year-old man for “drinking alcohol”.

The man, who is said to have a military doctorate and is a retired pilot, has been arrested in northern Tehran on charges of drunk driving.

The representative of the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, has claimed that he had been arrested three times before for drinking alcohol and that he had been punished.

Based on the Islamic Penal Code a defendant can face the death penalty after being arrested and punished three times for alcohol consumption. The initial punishment for drinking is usually flogging.… Read the rest

Drinking with the Homeless

I guess I’ll put this in the One Thing I Didn’t Really Care if I Ever Knew File: San Francisco has a Craft Beer Week. That’s right, and today is the kick-off. It then runs through next Sunday.

It sounds great.

Oh wait, Newsom still has California locked down. According to the COVID-19 Reopening Tracker at the LA Times, 53 (out of 58) counties are “widespread” risk, which means “most nonessential indoor business operations are closed.”

That, of course, can’t be. California has been very proactive with its aggressive top-down dictates, so it can’t be having a COVID problem.

But hey, who needs bars to enjoy craft beers? I’m sure San Francisco’s homeless population will enjoy themselves, proving you don’t need a building to have fun. Just look at all the fun San Fran is having:

Here in San Francisco, “kick the bums out” increasingly applies to city officials. District attorney Chesa Boudin, who has promoted a philosophy of restorative justice that has led to greater danger in every neighborhood, is on course to be expelled. After a New Year’s Eve disaster in which a career criminal, high on meth, killed two women while driving a stolen car, Richie Greenberg, a political commentator and 2018 candidate for San Francisco mayor, distributed a petition requesting Boudin’s immediate resignation. In just two weeks, it hit the 15,000 signatures necessary to proceed with a full recall. Residents, who are overwhelmingly to the left politically, had finally had enough.

Discontent with Boudin dates back to the beginning of his term in January 2020. He soon released approximately 40 percent of the San Francisco jail population, fired seven of the department’s best prosecuting attorneys, and declared that he would not prosecute “quality of life crimes.” As a result, perpetrators from within San Francisco

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The Gin Craze Continues

Plus a description of the different types of gins

I’m still on my gin kick. Heck, it might just become a regular thing, though beer is beginning to sneak back into my repertoire.

I might get acupuncture. It supposedly can treat gastritis, which is why I can’t drink beer. If acupuncture can cure gastritis, enabling people to drink beer again, I’m guessing the acupuncturist charges $10,000 an hour.

But until then, I’m staying mostly with gin.

I just really enjoy its subtle flavor differences, which is something I didn’t get when I was on my vodka kick.

I believe the vodka enthusiasts when they say there’s a difference between, say, Grey Goose and Smirnoff, but I can’t taste it, even if I sip it neat. I think I could detect a little grape in Ciroc, but I’m not sure. In order to get a “tasting experience” from vodka, I had to use a variety of bitters, which is a hobby I enjoy and will continue to pursue.

But for mixing a simple cocktail? Gin and tonic is great. It tastes good and you can taste the difference among the gins, even if the difference is pretty subtle.

Rolling Stone just released a list of “Gins to Try Now” article. It notes that the gin craze is still going strong, explains why, and lists several high quality gins (number one is Hendrick’s, which is a solid choice, especially its Midsummer Solstice, which is probably the best gin I’ve ever tasted, though a pink gin I tried at the Eagle and Child in Oxford, England, really blew me away).

The article also contains highly useful introduction to the different types of gins, though it omits “western” gins (which are “fruit forward” gins, which push different aromas over the juniper base).… Read the rest

Killing Trappist Beer

The Trappist brewers are getting old

This is one of the saddest drinking stories of the past few months: Trappist beers are declining due to a lack of new vocations.

The Trappists don’t screw around: The Authentic Trappist Product label is only given to beers that are

  • made in the immediate surroundings of an abbey,
  • produced under the supervision of monks and
  • sold to fund the monastery and for charitable works.

If you lack one of those things, like a brewer monk, you don’t get the label.

Monastic vocations have fallen off a cliff, especially in Belgium, the “spiritual home of Trappist beers.” There are still five or six Trappist breweries and 100 brewer monks in Belgium, but most of them are older (this article says at least one is in his early 30s). I gotta believe they’re going to start dropping like flies around the corn-mash vat.

We need an updated Seven Storey Mountain in Flemish. Merton published his autobiography in 1949. By 1950, monastic vocations were surging. From Wikipedia:

“The book has served as a powerful recruitment tool for the priestly life in general, and for the monastic orders in particular. In the 1950s, Gethsemani Abbey and the other Trappist monasteries experienced a surge in young men presenting themselves for the cenobitic life. It is a well-known bit of Catholic lore that, after the book’s publication, many priests entered monasteries or seminaries with a copy in their suitcase.”


10 Trappist breweries worldwide

“Worldwide there are only 10 Trappist abbeys where Trappist beer is brewed. Six of them are Belgian Trappist breweries: AchelChimay, OrvalRochefortWestmalle and Westvleteren.

“In The Netherlands there are two Trappist breweries: La Trappe and Zundert. In Austria there is the Engelszell … Read the rest

Drinking to Dogecoin and Downing Don Julio

Popping Corks

All hail Dogecoin!!

Hail, Dogecoin!!!!

What’s Dogecoin?

Dogecoin is a “joke cryptocurrency” that some guys started eight years ago, just to be funny. Its algorithm doesn’t even limit production, so it doesn’t have that “golden seal of authenticity” that comes with Bitcoin (to wit, it’s not like the dollar, which can be created to infinity and back).

But it has always been a darling of the Reddit community.

And, with a little coaxing from Elon Musk, it became the darling of all those millennial day traders with their stimulus checks.

I bought a very small amount of Dogecoin on December 15th for the heck of it.

As of this typing, it’s up 1,700% (that’s not a typo). I cashed out 350% of my original investment, and now I’m just going to watch and see what happens.  

If it goes to $10 a share (I bought at .0038 per share . . . that’s not a typo . . . 3/8ths of one penny), I’ll be giving up my day job and turning TDE into a full-time gig.

If I don’t turn chicken and cash out at 20 cents a share.

But regardless, it’s great fun, so the corks will pop tonight.

Or the tops will come off somehow.

Maybe I’ll open a Sam Adams.

Or maybe I’ll have a vodka and tonic with a splash of my favorite bitters: Fee Brothers Old Fashioned. I was re-organizing my bar after the holidays and I came across two bottles of this forgotten gem. I previously used it all the time, but then kind of forgot about it when I got on my gin kick (gin and its different subtle tastes is, in my opinion, ruined by bitters).

I wish I liked tequila, but due to a youthful indiscretion … Read the rest

The Best Catholic Drinking Book of All Time?

Drinking Matters: Drinking with the Saints, Regnery Publishing, Russell Kirk, and That Old Bookseller in Niles, Michigan

Medieval monasteries gave us modern brewing as we know it.

Whiskey was invented by Irish monks and prescribed medicinally as a cure for “paralysis of the tongue.”

Only two monks at any time know the recipe for Chartreuse.

St. Junipero Serra and the Franciscans gave us the California wine industry (I’m sure Gavin Newsom and his unlocked winery are grateful).

Those are just four Catholic alcohol snippets from Michael P. Foley’s definitive Catholic alcohol book, Drinking with the Saints (2015).

Marie got me the book for Christmas. I’d seen it advertised, of course, but never bought it.

I regret it now.

The book is stunning in every respect: its binding, its formatting, its content, the writer’s style. I can’t recommend it enough. And the price is only $11.93 at Amazon (sorry). For a hardcover with this quality binding, I would expect a $30 retail price.

The book is published by Regnery History, which I always try to support.

Regnery Publishing was started by Henry Regnery. It has long been a mainstay of conservative publishing.

Russell Kirk, in fact, wrote The Conservative Rout with Regnery in mind as the publisher. Regnery loved the book but said the title was too defeatist. Kirk and Regnery considered different titles, “The Long Retreat,” “The Conservative Course,” and “The Conservative Tradition.” Finally, in 1952, Kirk came up with The Conservative Mind. Brad Birzer, Russell Kirk: American Conservative.

For those unacquainted with The Conservative Mind, I strongly suggest you buy a copy, even if you consider yourself a liberal. It’s a masterpiece. Every time I take it off my shelf and start to flip through it, I feel good, almost remembering when I first … Read the rest