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Holy homebrew: Catholic priest wins brewing’s highest honor

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Long blessed by Catholics as a “healthful drink for mankind,” beer has been taken to new heights by one Texas priest, who has won the highest award in the United States for home-brewed beverages.

“It’s surreal,” Father Jeff Poirot told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “After we were done screaming from excitement when we won, it was hard to put it into words what winning the Ninkasi means to us.”

The brewing priest said his hobby doesn’t detract from his vocation.

“This is a hobby, and it’s a hobby I’ve done all right with. So I would never want it to eclipse what I do … because my role as a priest takes precedence,” he told the newspaper.

“You can have a busy life. You can have commitments with family and work, but you can still do something you love.”

Father Poirot serves as pastor of Holy Family Parish in Fort Worth, and brews with his homebrewing partner Nick McCoy, who is also a Catholic. One of their beers won the 2017 Ninkasi Award from the American Homebrewers Association, the award for the best drink in the annual National Homebrew Competition.

Their beer was chosen as the best drink among all 33 categories of beers, meads and ciders in the competition. Over 8,500 beers were submitted.

Submitting under the name “Draft Punk,” a play on the French electronic-music duo Daft Punk, Father Poirot and McCoy’s brew club also won first place in the Specialty IPA and Trappist Ale and Strong Belgian categories at the National Homebrew Awards June 17 in Minneapolis. This was the third year Father Poirot and McCoy have entered beers into the competition.

The winning beer, a Belgian Quadrupel, drew its inspiration from the Trappist tradition.

Generally winners of the Ninkasi award go on to open their own shops or to write books, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Father Poirot and McCoy will be staying where they are.

“For me, I always want to balance [brewing] with being a priest, because being a priest is primary, first and foremost for me,” Poirot told the newspaper.

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