Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson
November is the month when we recognize the
power of darkness. We give up any notion of long, sunny evenings and
stop saving daylight until next spring.
In the hemisphere where I live our daylight
hours grow shorter and our days grow cooler, even here in sunny
Several spiritual traditions, including
Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists practice a four or five day
festival of lights called Diwali at the end of October or the
beginning of November. It symbolizes the spiritual victory of light
over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance. Part of
practicing Diwali is illuminating the interior and exterior of our
homes with lamps or candles.
For many of us, darkness and light
illustrate the dualistic way we understand spiritual life. We tend
to identify light with goodness and darkness with evil. Some of us
talk about things like “seeing the light,” “shedding light” on a
situation, “being in the dark,” or “hiding our light.”
It is easy for us to assume the world is
divided into light and dark, good and evil, like the Force.
I see darkness and light differently.
Spiritual life is not a matter of categorizing people as either good
or bad, light or darkness. Each of us carries both aspects of these
dualities within ourselves.
As one writer has pointed out, “the greater
the circle of light, the greater the perimeter of darkness.”
November is an excellent opportunity to put
our nondualistic understanding into practice, particularly when it
comes to craft beer.
I have written before I prefer to swim in
the dark end of the craft beer pool. November is a great month for
us to explore our dark side.
Two specific events this month give us
opportunities to experience the implications of our dark side.
The earliest is on Thursday,
November 7, which is International Stout Day.
International Stout Day celebrates stout
The description “stout” originally meant
proud or brave, and later gained the meaning strong. What we now
understand as stout ale is closely connected to porters.
Porter was first brewed in the early 1700s
and became a favorite of street and river porters, as well as other
laborers. Stronger porters brewed in London became known as stout
porters, and eventually the term stout became associated with dark
The differences between porters and stouts
are subtle. Some see the difference as porters are brewed with
malted barley while stouts use unsalted barley. Even beer experts do
not agree on what the differences really are.
International Stout Day was first observed
in November, 2011. It has been on the first Thursday of November
Many craft breweries recognize and celebrate
International Stout Day. I encourage you to visit a brewery near you
and ask for the stout they are highlighting.
The second event is on Friday the day
following Thanksgiving Day. Known to many retailers as Black Friday,
Stone Brewery tasting rooms celebrate Black(ened) Friday.
Each Stone tasting room offers a list of
beers in the dark end of the pool on Friday, November 29.
Whether you choose to celebrate Black(ened)
Friday as a way to escape the turbulent retail experiences of Black
Friday, or as a temporary respite during your shopping, please visit
the Stone tasting room near you.
Last year I was the first person in line at
my closest Stone facility. I enjoyed my experience there far more
than I would have shopping and carrying purchases.
November is a month for us to pay attention
to the play of light and darkness in our lives. Please join me for a
soak in the dark end of the craft brewing pool.
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life
mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft
brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a
recovering attorney. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and
he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk.
You can email Greg at
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