What to do about Gandhi Beer

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A can of Gandhi-Bot

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A can of Gandhi-Bot

A can of Gandhi-Bot

A can of Gandhi-Bot

Here in Connecticut, we’re having a bit of a fracas over Gandhi-Bot, an India Pale Ale from the New England Brewing Company featuring a robotic representation of the iconic Indian leader on the can. It seems that because the Mahatma eschewed alcohol, some of his compatriots have taken umbrage. A lawsuit has been filed in India and some Indian package store owners here in the Nutmeg State have decided not to stock it.

New England Brewing has apologized, but as of now no decision has been made on whether to halt — or rebrand — the popular IPA, which is advertised as “an ideal aid for self-purification and the seeking of truth and love.”

OK, I get the protest. But perhaps a little context, and some modest proposals, are in order.

There’s no shortage of existing drinks that celebrate religious icons, and that likewise extol the moral properties of alcohol. Take, for example, Luther Bier, which features the slogan: “a little can of beer against the Devil with which to scorn him.” Of course, the father of the Reformation was a hearty guzzler, although the story that he invented bier-pong in a Wittenberg stube in 1520 is probably apocryphal.

Logo for Luther beer

Logo for Luther beer

Not that Protestants created spiritual quaffs. To this day, we’ve got such good Catholic beers as Franciskaner and Augustiner. On the liqueur front, the Benedictines have given us Benedictine and the Carthusians, Chartreuse. And that’s to say nothing of Liebfraumilch, which refers to the sweet vintage that Jesus himself suckled. Personally, however, I think the Catholics will be missing the boat until they start marketing St. John-Pauli Girl.

Turning to America, we know that the Puritans drank beer, so I’m happy to report that the Puritan Brew Co. opened in Fayetteville, Ark. this fall with the slogan: “The driving idea behind Puritan is that we all should go where things are better.” Meanwhile, for today’s Reformed set, might I suggest a glass of Calvin Cabernet — “a lovely TULIP nose…you’re predestined to like it!”

I do realize that evangelicals have quite the history of hostility to alcohol. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that the most famous evangelist of all time is not an advocate of teetotalism. As he approaches the century mark, I give you: Billy Grahambuie. As for the Mormons, who’ve learned to live with Polygamy Porter (“Why have just one?”), may I suggest Joseph Smithwick’s and Brigham Yingling?

For their part, the Jews have no problem with alcohol, though kosher wine leaves a good deal to be desired. Rather than a glass of Manischewitz, I propose Schneerson Schnaps for those Chabad House shabbats, and let’s recover with a Moshe Mimosa for brunch. Update: I’m reminded that Maccabee Beer already exists, though it also leaves something to be desired — one bottle lasts for seven days.

A can of Shiva IPA

A can of Shiva IPA

Beyond the Judeo-Christian world, there could be Dalai Lager, a well-balanced (not too hoppy) Buddha-brew. And why not toast the founder of Sikhism with combat-ready Guru Nanak Arak? Given what happened after those Danish cartoons were published, I rather suspect we’re not going to be seeing a Muhammad Muscatel any time soon, but perhaps a non-alcoholic Ayatollah Ale?

What about the Nones — those who have distilled religion out of themselves? Let them trot over to their local Christopher Hitchens-post and order some Madelyn Murray O’Hair o’ the Dog. As the agnostic poet A.E. Housman wrote, “Malt does more than Milton can / To justify God’s ways to man.”

In the meantime, those Indians who want to see what all the fuss is about should hurry down to the Krishna Beer Shop on Shivaji Nagar Road in Mumbai and pick up a six-pack of Gandhi-Bot. If it’s not available — and Gandhi-Bot is hard to come by under the best of circumstances — there’s a good alternative available from the Asheville Brewing Company: Shiva IPA.

  • Garson Abuita

    We’re already generations past the time when Manischewitz and its overly sweet competitors were the only kosher wine around. Kosher wine from every wine-producing area in the world has been holding its own for a while now. You also forgot the real-life Shmaltz Brewing Company, makers of the HE-BREW brand of beers.

  • It’s an exaggeration to say it’s been holding its own. Because of the requirement that it must be boiled or cooked (yayin mevushal), even good kosher wine is not all that good.

  • Garson Abuita

    All the wine I buy for home use is kosher because we usually buy it for the Sabbath or Jewish holidays, and we only like to make blessings over kosher wine — it goes to the kashrut requirement here arising from wine’s sacramental use not only in Judaism but among ancient pagan religions. So maybe it’s not going to win any blind taste tests but it’s still not bad imo. But I have little basis for comparison.
    Also, not all kosher wine is mevushal — it’s a separate listing on the label. As an additional stringency, it means that even if an idol-worshipper were to handle the wine, it would still be kosher because it would have been “pagan-proofed” by boiling. (I’m adding these explanatory comments for everyone, it’s not that I think you don’t know).

  • Karla

    Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk and 1 Corinthians 6:10 says that all
    drunkards go to hell. The wine Jesus made was from the fruit of the vine
    and was new wine/diluted/made for symbolic reasons not to get drunk and
    John 2:10 says the cheaper wine was brought out last so the best for last
    refers to poorer/watered down/diluted wine. Bibe also says don’t get drunk
    on strong wine/don’t get drunk with wine for it’s debauchery! Bible is very
    clear in 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 that we are not to practice any kind of sin!

    Jesus Christ said that many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven!
    Luke 13 says that we all need to Repent or perish! We all must Repent!
    Jesus said you are one of Mine only if you continue in My teachings and
    follow Me so if people don’t change/follow Him they can sing songs and go
    to church/claim to be a Christian all they want but they still end up in hell.
    Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one of the guys went
    to heaven because only one of the guys Repented/had a change of heart
    about his sin. We have many,many people today that want to go to heaven
    but they don’t want to Repent which is why so,so many people don’t change.
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved. We must Repent!

  • drwho13

    Karla, thanks for the advice. First I must eat, drink, and be merry, so that I can be sure that I’ve committed an offense that requires repentance. Furthermore, I don’t know about going to Hell; recovering from a Manischewitz hangover is punishment enough.

  • Karla

    drwho13-You are welcome! We are all sinners because we were born in sin
    so whatever the sin is we must Repent. We all must Repent! God bless.

  • Larry

    How does it compare with Sweet Baby Jesus Beer?

  • All I can say, Larry, is OMG.

  • Chaplain Martin

    My only comment is: “surely you jest”.