Llangollen priest to bless beer for 'real ale train'

Lee Taylor Image copyright Andrei Daniel
Image caption Father Lee Taylor has worked behind bars and played piano in pubs

A real ale steam train event will boast the holiest beer on Saturday - after it is blessed by a priest.

Llangollen Group of Churches' priest-in-charge Father Lee Taylor will say a prayer and splash holy water before the Llangollen Railway Real Ale Train departs.

Fr Taylor said the tradition of blessing beer can be traced back to 6th Century monks.

As a beer fan and former publican, he hopes to bring the practice back.

"It's totally fun and something quite different," Fr Taylor said.

"Here in Llangollen we've got a heritage steam train and it's quite popular with tourists and three times a year they have a real ale train, which I'm quite interested in because I do love real ale.

"What I'm going to be doing is blessing the beer in a ceremony that goes back centuries before it sets off."

Fr Taylor said his idea had attracted a fair bit of interest locally, with people approaching him on the street to ask questions.

Image caption A specific prayer for blessing beer, which Fr Taylor will say at the ceremony

He added the ceremony would take five minutes, and he would say a prayer and invite people to take part in a sing-song.

"I get asked 'will it taste different?', 'will it make me feel different?'.

"People are curious, it's not been done in a long time.

"It's giving thanks to God for things that come to us through the earth."

Fr Taylor said his mother was a publican, and he had always played piano in pubs and helped behind the bar.

"My background was pubs before I became a priest," he said.

"The church has always blessed things, Sunday morning we bless beer and wine. The church is central to the community and the way the church responded and celebrated the community was to offer blessings for things.

"There are specific prayers for things, including beer. But people are quite shocked when they hear about this and say 'really? Bless beer? Is that right?'"

Fr Taylor added the medieval roof of St Collen's Church in Llangollen - one of his churches - depicts a story about drinking beer, with one man attempting to trundle two barrels of beer, another enjoying the content and a third determined not to let any go to waste.

Image copyright St Collen's Church
Image caption A sketch about drinking beer based on the medieval roof at St Collen's Church, Llangollen

More on this story