Puddin’s View-Pint: Beer and the Lenten Friday Fish Fry

As with most things these days, it seems that in but the merest blink of an eye whole seasons disappear.  What half-hearted winter we had here in Cincinnati appears to have expelled its last gasp, meaning that Spring has, quite decidedly, sprung.  Easter, too, is but a week and a few days away, which means that another Lenten season, once a boom time for beer drinking back in the days when true fasting was the order of day, is nearly complete.

Of course, not too many people try the whole “fasting for 40 days and 40 nights” thing anymore.  This guy did it last year, and if you read much of the blog he wrote to chronicle his adventures, it doesn’t sound like it was an experience full of balloons, fairy dust, and unicorns.  Thankfully, that 40 days of fasting eventually gave way to the current sacrificial practice of “no meat on Friday”.  At least, that’s the way the Catholics roll, anyway.

For the record, yes, I’m Catholic. So I’ve been living with this “no meat” business for almost 40 years.  In fact, Lent makes up one of the three-legs of what I consider the modern Church seasonal calendar here in Cincinnati.  What’s it comprised of, you say?  Well, I’m glad you asked! If you ask me, the church year around can be broken down into:

  1. Christmas time
  2. Fish Fry time (Lent)
  3. Festival time (summer)

Now, I’m going to be honest.  I have never been much of a fish fry aficionado (I don’t much care for festivals, either, but that’s a topic I’ve covered already on Puddintopia).  The thing about fish fries is that they largely all fall into one of two categories: fresh, battered, fish, or processed, frozen fish. And most of the one’s I’ve attended have served the latter.

Still, normally I wouldn’t let a frozen piece of fried fish ruin my day.  And really, there’s no reason to, either, because you can count on the Cincinnati’s plethora of good Catholics of Germanic descent to include beer in pretty much any worthy endeavor. Which means that in addition to fish, most Friday fry events include a few malt-based beverage options.  And if you ask me, a decent brew or two can wash down a multitude of seafood sins.

But, aye, there’s the rub. While there usually is beer, precious little of it is well-crafted.  In fact, I’ve yet to find a church fish fry with options beyond the standard offerings of the American light lager persuasion.

Now, lest anyone curse the tarter sauce on my next fish sandwich, I’m not saying you can’t enjoy a American light with your fried cod.  In fact, by all means, please do so.  I’m just saying that I don’t enjoy it.  And I know I’m not alone in that opinion.

So, to the parishes of the dioceses of Cincinnati and Covington: why not offer some of the very tasty local brews at your big weekly fish fry?  Everyone knows the local breweries.  Heck, many of the brewers probably attend your services and come looking for fishy goodness on Friday themselves.  And with craft beer options, you can charge a premium and really crank up that fund-raising profit margin.

The brewers win, the parish wins, and, heck, even I win.

Of course, I will allow that I could be mistaken; maybe there are places where you can get a decent ale and an ale-battered fish.  After all, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit all 732* Catholic fish fries in the greater Cincinnati area (maybe I’ll try that next year).  For now, though, if you know of a parish that’s bringing it with some better beer alternatives, or as an added bonus, local better beers, that’s what those comments are for below.

There’s still time for one last fish fry this year before we head into festival season. If you know of one with some tasty beer, I think we’d all like to know about it.

Because the choices I’ve found so far have fallen a bit short.

And that’s a little more sacrifice than I can handle.


*This is a rough estimate based on me pulling a number out of thin air.