We have a great excerpt for you from The Comic Book Story of Beer this St. Patrick’s Day.

And as we are fond of noting (and saying so explicitly on Page 167!), beer doesn’t need to be analyzed to death in order to be simply appreciated. But if we accept the invitation to keep its complex and fascinating history in mind, we can elevate the experience of drinking it. Yes, even if it’s been dyed green and served in a plastic leprechaun hat.

So if you’re down for a few robust moments of history, cast your imagination back to the days of the Roman Empire and the early Dark Ages. Because—yes!—that’s when the actual (Britain-born!) historical figure of St. Patrick lived and cemented his legacy.

As you’ll learn in our book, wine was the tradition beverage of Christianity. But grapes had a pretty tough time growing in a land as far north as Ireland. So beer became the Irish stand-in for the favorite quaff of Jesus and his disciples.

The Irish paid back the favor of being Christianized by St. Patrick. Faithful “white martyr” monks looking to spread the faith set out over the mainland continent of Europe. They founded monasteries and breweries wherever they went, thereby keeping the late-breaking religion of the fallen Western Roman Empire alive in places that were beginning to lapse back into barbarism.

In doing so, they contributed absolutely invaluable knowledge to the art and science of brewing. The monks and nuns who made beer composed a proto-professional class of brewers in an age when most beer was made in tiny batches in village kitchens by wives and widows.