Theology and Beer: Lazarus Brewing Co.

Lazarus Brewing Co. is Spreading the Gospel of Beer

I normally steer clear of religion. A youth spent raised in the Church of Christ and attending a Christian high school sometimes has that effect. However, Lazarus Brewing Co. has a theology that I can get behind. The church of beer. Can I get an Amen! Kneel and give thanks to our Lager. Now stand up. You look silly, and this is a tap room. One of the nicer tap rooms I’ve ever been in I might add. Lazarus Brewing Co. really went all out to create atmosphere. Everything tells a story. The glassware, the names of the beer, the massive stain glass mural depicting the anointing of Jesus by Mary Magdalene. It’s the subtle touches that really make the space.

Stained glass mural depicting Mary Magdalene and Jesus at Lazarus Brewing Co.

I was meeting a small group of people for a brewery crawl and spotted an early bird at the bar. He of course had a beer, but he was also munching on Instagram worthy tacos if I’d ever seen them. Lazarus Brewing Co. is apparently well known for their fish tacos. Another subtle nod to the religious theme? I’d like to assume so.  I ordered a pint of 40 Days & 40 Nights, the IPA on tap. It came in a Stange glass with the brewery’s logo and the words “Share Life” emblazoned on it. The little details are everywhere. The hop aroma was a little light for an IPA, but it was thirst quenching and packed with flavor. An excellent choice for my first ever beer from them.

40 Days & 40 Nights IPA from Lazarus Brewing Co.

The Shackleton EPB was next on my “to drink” list. I’ve always been a fan of bitters, and this one is truly excellent. Hoppy, but not nearly as much as an IPA, and a strong malt backbone. Barely two beers in and I’m already a big fan of Lazarus. I wanted to sample everything, and like the cheapskate I am, I bummed sips from my friends. Naturally, some were better than others, but all at the very least were decent. I enjoyed the Shackleton so much I ordered up a second pint.

Clearly not every beer has a name with allusions to a bible story, but each beer’s name has a story behind it. Shackleton was named after Earnest Shackleton, who was a polar explorer that led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. One Eye Rye is lovingly named after a brewer’s girlfriend’s rescue dog. A one-eyed, cranky mutt who is missed dearly. With every purchase of this spicy brew, a 50-cent donation is made to Hard Luck Hounds.

Lazarus Brewing Co. Shackleton EPB

Really the only thing I can nitpick about also happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves in a brewery. No menu boards. You must decide what you want when you get to the front of the line with a printed paper menu. I guess it makes sense when they change their offerings so frequently. Plus, it would get in the way of all the fancy glassware. However, there were spots on the wall that could have accommodated at least a small board. It’s one of my things, okay!

Lazarus Brewing Co. did a nice spin on the crowdfunding craze. They created a “Patron Saint” program. For a donation of $1,000, you are gifted with a handblown goblet that is truly a work of art. Oh, did I forget to mention that you also get free beer for life in said goblet? They’ll even keep it at the brewery for you. The only caveat being that you’re limited to one beer or other beverage per day. Damn TABC regulations. Some beers at Lazarus top out at over 10% ABV, so I say get your money’s worth. On the shelf behind the bar there are several sippy cups mixed in among the artfully crafted goblet. A sticky note with a name and frowny face tells a woeful tale. Shattering a grand has got to sting a bit.

The bar and taps at Lazarus Brewing Company

Seating is abundant at Lazarus Brewing Co. inside and out. Bar stools, high tables, and picnic tables are spaced perfectly and could accommodate almost every churchgoer. If you like the industrial feel of a brewery in a non-descript warehouse, then you should look elsewhere.  Lazarus has style and is difficult to miss. If it seems like I’m gushing, it’s because I am. Other breweries should take note. This is how you build a brand.

Another view of Lazarus Brewing Co. tables

Entrance to the Lazarus Brewing Co taproom from the outside patio

Lazarus Brewing Co. beer glass goblet

Bad Beer Review – Oculto

I’m all for trying new things, but sometimes, you flat out know you’re going to hate it. Like your girlfriend and anal. Oculto was like that for me. I’m starting a bad beer review series to highlight the worst of what beer has to offer. You have to know what the problem is before you can fix it. A quick can scan revealed Oculto is brewed by macro Anheuser-Busch. Hoo boy, here we go. I can handle being wrong, so I plunked the cheesy Dia de los Muertos plastered tall boy in my cart and made my purchase proudly….with cash….and I burned the receipt…then paid the bag boy to sneak into the office and destroy the security footage….then killed the bag boy. Wait, no I didn’t.

bad beer review

The can proudly displays that Oculto is infused with blue agave and aged over tequila barrel staves. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that it might actually taste a bit like tequila. If it’s in there, my palate is not sensitive enough to pick up on it. Then again my palate is regularly destroyed by triple IPAs. After popping the top and drinking straight from the can (because why bother with a glass) all I could taste was an overwhelming sickly sweet flavor from the agave. It’s difficult to believe this isn’t a fruit beer. While trying to be impartial, I tried to pick up on any on other flavors or subtleties that might be masked by the initial burst of this sugary beer. There were none. Hop aroma and bitterness were absent as far as I could tell.

In my life, I’ve poured out very few beers. I’ve never even poured out a BMC before. Their lack of flavor at least make them drinkable. After a quarter can, I couldn’t choke down anymore. I was worried my dry heaves would turn into wet heaves if I forced myself to continue. Down the drain it went, fizzing up and throwing off a heavy aroma of stinky feet in defiance as it swirled down into the sewer where it likely caused a group of baby turtles to mutate and take up Kung Fu.

bad beer revew - oculto

I honestly can’t begin to think of who this beer would appeal to. I think the BMC and craft crowds might have a rare moment of unity in saying that Oculto is a flat out bad beer. Many articles I’ve found online repeat the phrase

Oculto is designed to tap into late night occasions.

Because if you’re already drunk, you probably don’t notice how disgusting it is. I took up this Bad Beer Review posting series to shine a light on what I believe is unacceptable in the beer industry. This first dive into the unpalatable is making me question my resolve. Maybe I got lucky though and tried the worst for first? I’ve never been that lucky before, and I doubt that has suddenly changed. So should you try Oculto? A resounding yes! Simply for the fact that you can’t know what a good beer is without the bad.