LLANGOLLEN’S vicar blessed the beer during the Real Ale Train event held over the weekend.

Father Lee Taylor, who took over at St. Collen's and three other churches in the Valle Crucis mission area last Christmas, believes that reviving the ancient ceremony is a good way of "taking the church to the community".

On Saturday, as the steam train prepared to leave the platform, Father Lee was on hand in full regalia to speak his chosen words over the local brews.

"Back in medieval times, it wasn't unusual for priests to be called upon to bless things, such as cheese, workmen's tools or crops planted for harvest," Father Lee said.

"It’s a way of the church responding to various community activities and a fun way of celebrating something that’s very good."

Father Lee, whose mother was landlady at pubs in his native Lancashire, performed the ritual in English and used holy water and incense.

"The beer blessing goes back to 1614 and inaugurated in the time of Pope Pius V," he added.

“There is also a link with St Collen’s because on the church roof, there is a depiction of a man with barrels.

“Saint Arnold of Soissons, whose feast day is on August 14, and Saint Arnulf of Metz (July 18), are patron saints of beer and hop-pickers, so if any pubs or hotels in Llangollen would like their beer blessed on those days, all they need to do is let me know.”

This wasn’t the first time that Father Lee had carried out his beer blessing ceremony. Back in 2016, he hit national headlines when he blessed the casks at his local pub when he was part of the clergy team at Croydon Minster in London.

Soon after he arrived in Llangollen, a gathering of parishioners and friends watched him bless his new vicarage in Abbey Road.

Llangollen heritage railway’s business manager, the aptly-named Liz McGuinness, also raised a glass to Father Lee’s ceremony.

She said: “This is a great idea. We are so pleased that Lee took out to re-enact an age old tradition. Everyone on the train enjoyed it very much.”