Art of Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson

Mayflower IINovember is the month when we remember to be grateful.

No matter who we are or where we live, our lives are filled with people and things for which we are thankful. It may be only one person in a crowd of others we wish would leave us alone. It may be the one moment surrounded by a schedule of things we are required to do.

November is the month when we recognize how significant gratitude is for us. While being thanked can make some people uncomfortable, being thankful shapes us and our lives. Appreciation and gratefulness help us become better people.

There are many things for which I am thankful, many people to whom I am grateful. The more gratitude I experience, the more grateful I become. I am thankful for the examples of people who have gone before me, for those who inspire me each day.

One of the things for which I give true thanks is craft beer.

I am grateful for the taste of excellent craft beer, how it rolls on our tongues and fills our noses. I am thankful for the way it relaxes us, helping us tell the truths we need to tell. Craft beer helps us make new friends and warms our hearts.

I am also thankful for the examples of people who have gone before us. The monks who have taught us to brew better beer. The teachers who taught us valuable lessons. Our ancestors, who  began new traditions to celebrate gratitude.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day this month, it is important to reflect on all that has changed since that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, and all that has remained the same.

Much is different, and many features have been added to what we consider typical of Thanksgiving today.  There were no televised parades or football, for example, and no need to rush out to Black Thursday sales after dinner.

One thing that remains the same is that, in many ways, beer is central to Thanksgiving, and to the story of the Plymouth colony.

Those sailing aboard the Mayflower sighted Cape Cod in November, 1620, after 64 days at sea.  On the ship, they ate bread, biscuits, pudding, cheese, crackers, and dried meats and fruits. Instead of water, they brought barrels of beer -- a standard practice in the days before refrigeration, because beer remained potable longer than water.

Now, Cape Cod was not the destination they had when they set out from England. They attempted to sail south toward their destination in Virginia, but contrary winds and shoals kept them where they were.

In December, a scouting party went ashore, fearing a possible confrontation with unfriendly Native Americans.  They soon discovered that the local population had been decimated by smallpox.

That first winter they suffered from cold, starvation and disease; half of them were dead by spring. Those still surviving were in danger of suffering the same fate.

Everything changed one day in the spring, when a lone Native American walked into the settlement and said, in English, which he had learned from the sailors who had brought the smallpox:

"Welcome, English. I am Samoset. Do you have beer?"

The Pilgrims were astonished. Of all the places they could have come ashore, they had been found by someone who was friendly and somehow spoke their language, and knew about beer.

Even today, many years later and many miles from the Plymouth colony, thirsty pilgrims in Southern California prepare to set out for the next stop on their own personal craft brewery pilgrimages.

What are you most thankful for?


Greg Richardson is a leadership and organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Greg’s website is and he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk. You can email Greg at

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