Churches become breweries

“On the Eighth Day. Man Created Beer.” -The Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh, PA.

Church authorities screen buyers to preserve the gravitas of the building

A number of breweries have come up in former church buildings. The reasons for a house of worship transforming into a place where another kind of spirit is handed out can be many. The most important of all these reasons is their affordability. An entrepreneur not only gets the place at an economical price, more often than not, they are also positioned in a coveted area of the town or city. Problems are also present though: many a devout Christian cannot imagine that a house of worship would transform into a liquor vending center.

The interiors of a former church are also ideal for a brewery owner trying for a place with ‘character.’ Churches have brick walls and stained-glass windows. There are big sanctuaries perfect for holding the vats. Large groups of drinkers can socialize in comfort.

The trend of churches being converted into breweries started in earnest after the 2007 recession. Decreasing membership also shut down the doors of a large number of churches. Contrary to popular perception, allegations of sex abuse and the subsequent prosecution did not drain the coffers of Roman Catholic Church. The payments were given by insurance companies. Breweries often have to convince the local population prior to opening their commercial establishments. They reassure the local population that the former church will not be a sordid den for liquor and be frequented by people of unsavory nature.

One such converted brewery is Pittsburgh's Church Brew Works. The beer vending place opened its doors in 1996. Customers sit on booths retrofitted from pews. The former altar of the church is replaced by tall copper vats and steel ones as well. The sanctuary is lined by yellow flags. The motto of the beer company dominates the sanctuary space. The owner deliberately bought these items as they remind him of Germany where breweries are often found in heritage buildings. Using a church for imbibing beer provides a wow factor. The space becomes a welcoming one and does not overwhelm the patron. The patron can finish drinks leisurely, and speak with friends for a longer time.

Church authorities like the Boston diocese take a thorough interview of potential buyers so that they are sure that the former church building will be used as per Catholic church values. Historic churches, as per heritage laws, cannot be refurbished. The plus point of such laws that the breweries get an unmatched old-world air.

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