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Will Pope Francis try the 9.75% Belgian-style craft beer brewed in his honour?

A specially brewed craft beer has been tapped up in the Philadelphia seminary he’s staying in.

Holy Wooder is 9.5% and is brewed by the Philadelphia Brewing Company.
Holy Wooder is 9.5% and is brewed by the Philadelphia Brewing Company.
Image: AP

IT STARTED OUT as a lark inspired by the frenzy over Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia: a limited-run beer for the local bars with a playful name and a label showing the pontiff raising a gold-hued goblet of the stuff.

Holy Wooder, a powerful Belgian-style tripel, was already a hit with the downtown happy hour crowd when the seminary hosting Pope Francis this weekend called to say it wanted some, too.

The Philadelphia Brewing Company gladly obliged, delivering a half-keg to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, just outside the city limits, late last week.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia confirmed the order.

“We don’t usually do home deliveries, but we made an exception,” brewery co-owner Bill Barton said.

Francis will sleep at the seminary, located on a pastoral 75 acres, and return there to rest between events. On Sunday, he will greet bishops from around the world and pose for a photograph with seminarians, recreating an image featuring Pope John Paul II in 1979.

Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin said that having the beer on tap at St. Charles is a fun way for seminarians to celebrate the pope’s visit.

It’s unclear if Pope Francis will sample the suds he inspired, or if the former nightclub bouncer even enjoys beer like his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The 88-year-old Benedict lifted a hearty stein to celebrate his birthday in April.

Holy Wooder has a 9.75% alcohol by volume, about twice the punch of a Budweiser. The brewery jokingly says Holy Wooder “guarantees to cleanse your soul and set you on the path to righteousness.”

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Pope-Philadelphia-Beer Marianne Morrison pours a glass Holy Wooder at Atlantis. Source: Cameron Blyth/AP

The name, suggested by design intern Katy Loringer, is a play on the way many Philadelphians say “water.” She drew the label, framing Francis’ head with a stained-glass halo and replacing his cross with the brewery’s bright red logo.

It’s one of eight beers inspired by the pope’s visit.

Among the others are YOPO: You Only Pope Once, a pale ale; Papal Pleasure, a Belgian amber brewed in tanks blessed by a Catholic priest; and Jesus Wept, a German-style wheat beer.

The aptly named POPE: Pub on Passyunk East in South Philadelphia hosted a tasting of all eight beers this week. The bar collaborated with Philadelphia Brewing Company to produce Holy Wooder and declared it “the official beer of the POPE.”

Only 2,000 gallons, or about 60 barrels, were made.

“It’s at the highest demand of any product we’ve ever made,” Barton said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I wish we made more.”

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