Jesus n’ Cider

Author Homer Carroll

Writer, game developer, unschooling mentor & founder/board member of Shine Your Light Event : A non-profit aimed at helping individuals in medical crisis | @homercarroll

Image from Señor Brew™

You have likely heard the story of Jesus miraculously making wine out of water at a wedding party; the supposed event is the first of the “signs” that prove his divinity. What most don’t know is that Biblical scholars still debate whether the story is historical documentation or mere allegory; and some contest that wine wasn’t served at all, but beer — and others have argued extensively about whether or not it was even fermented. As long as the theologians are disputing this, I feel privileged to throw in my two cents; I have been brewing beer and wine for almost 10 years, and can offer valuable insight into the process.

Ancient weddings used to last up to two weeks, and I can make decent beer or wine in that time or less. With a handful of ingredients, I can brew a good batch of hefeweizen beer in eight days. Wine takes longer, but this also depends on the quality. The Beer Church insists that it was beer that was brewed at Cana, as wine was a “practically non-existent delicacy,” and the makings for beer were abundant.

As the story goes, Jesus instructed servants to do the tasks to make the beverage; they were ignorant of the process, so it seemed like magic. Also, tales are stripped down through retelling, and the steps involved in brewing may have been lost this way. It should be noted too that the original Aramaic text doesn’t even use the word wine, but talks about “strong drink” and “lines of ale vats.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six [lines of ale vats] stone water jars , the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into [strong drink] wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.

It could well reason that the man knew how to brew beer, arrived at the wedding party to celebrate, and in that time shared a gift with them by brewing for the guests.  Even if Jesus had simply brewed the wine regularly, over time the story turns to myth as weddings become less of an ordeal.  Weddings are done in mere hours now.  To tell a tale where a man made wine in the course of a wedding really is a miracle if you squeeze it into our era, but really nothing special at the time of biblical marriage.  Though this all may be mere speculation, I’ll be having a chuckle over my next brew.