In many ways, being the pastor of a church without its own building (we rent the beautiful synagogue on Anderson) is sort of like being part of a phantom church. We have no physical structure to speak of, no place to call our own, not even a permanent sign to let people know where we meet. It has its advantages, certainly. No mortgage payment, no upkeep, no overhead, etc. But it is also has disadvantages like not being able to provide another location for the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter, or not being able to utilize a building for the common good of Davis, and so forth. Maybe the biggest disadvantage to not having our own space is lacking that simple feeling of a physical presence in the community. Currently, we do the best we can in someone else’s space and I’m happy to say it works out pretty well.
Much like the fine brewers of Mikkeller Brewing. Often referred to as the Phantom Brewery, they spend most of their time traveling the world doing collaborative efforts with other breweries, or just utlizing their equipment. Call it schtick, call it efficient, call it what you will but the Danish home-brewers turned international phantom brewers are making a name for themselves.
You can find Mikkeller at the Davis Beer Shoppe (what can’t you find there?) and, as they are constantly releasing new things, you never know what will be around. Mikkeller releases a truly amazing array of beers throughout the year and as they move from place to place, it is seemingly impossible to know what will be available and where. Ever the sucker for a new IPA to try and wanting to give the phantom brewers a go, I picked up a 22 ounce bottle of Invasion IPA at the Shoppe and ignored the higher price this beer commanded. Surely it was worth it, I assumed. Being phantom brewers must translate into truly inspired beer.
I was wrong. Brewed in collaboration with Drake’s Brewing from San Leandro near Oakland, Invasion just doesn’t quit live up to the hype of the phantom brewers themselves. Certainly it was hoppy with a lively orange color and sweet, fresh scent, but the alcohol was so forward as to be harsh and the whole beer felt out of balance. It was neither subtle nor nuanced and though it came with a reputation for being extremely drinkable, I found myself tiring of it. While the idea of phantom brewers was enough to get me to buy this first one, it certainly isn’t enough to keep me going back for more. Especially considering the price of a 22 ounce bomber would get you a decent 6-pack of something else, it was hard not to feel a bit taken by the schtick of a phantom brewer.
Granted, I haven’t had anything else from Mikkeller, but I found myself wondering how difficult it must be to perfect your craft or even one recipe when you are globetrotting and using someone else’s set-up to do it. In that sense, I suppose I no longer relate to the phantom brewers. While our church could be going around Davis looking for a new place to meet each week with the schtick of being a phantom church, always on the move, I think we’ll stick to being happy renters in one place every week. Otherwise, being a phantom church would get old and tired like this beer did.