It’s amazing what people wind up doing with deconsecrated churches. Some are turned into housing. Several unused churches in the U.K. have been converted into places to go…not camping, not glamping, but (wait for it…) champing! (Champing! Get it?) John’s Of Times Square Pizza, in NYC, was the home of the Gospel Tabernacle Church in the late 1800s and well into the 1900s.
John’s Pizza, before…and after! (and it still has the cool stained glass windows and ceiling)
So what’s the more recent thing people are doing with churches that are no longer being used as churches? Or, in one case, a church that is still being used as a church?
Turning them into breweries, of course!
According to a 2017 report by the Associated Press, at least ten former churches were converted into breweries between 2011 and 2017, and at least 4 more were scheduled to open in 2018. And with breweries and microbreweries as popular as ever, who knows how many will open in 2019 and beyond. But here are a bunch that you can visit in your travels:
Located in a former church in Porter, Texas (yes, Porter – you can’t make this stuff up), which is about 30 miles north of Houston, this brewery prides itself on not doing things by the book. From their website:
We chart our own course and venture into the beer-brewing unknown, whether or not it’s what everyone else is doing. We’re inspired by the unconventional, the strange, and the original. We aren’t afraid to brew boldly if that’s what it takes to get the results we seek, because we don’t confine ourselves to one straight and narrow path.
They have their own brews separated into “Saints” (lighter fare such as Blue Testament Pilsner, Sweet Salvation brown ale, Black Habit Schwarzbier, etc.) and “sinners” (intense brews such as Satyr’s Swill bock, 9th Circle black IPA and Act of Balor milk stout). They offer tours and are on about 14 acres of space so they allow pop up tents and chairs so you can enjoy your beer however you’d like.
This brewery is located in the former Civil War era Water’s Edge United Methodist Church. The taps are built into a wooden altar and the former Reverend of the church is one of the brewery’s biggest supporters.
Their beers are small batch and the tap list changes regularly. They also sell Neapolitan pizza because really, what other food goes better with beer? 😉
They have a video that shows the building and surrounding area, made by a drone, that’s actually pretty cool:
Wilkes-Barre, PA was home of the St Joseph Monastery & School but in 2013 its doors reopened as the Breaker Brewing Co. The tap list switches out on a regular basis but the names of the beers oftentimes pay homage to the coal mining industry that used to be king in the area, such as Old King Coal Stout and Lunch Pail Ale.
Over the years the brewery has expanded to include a brew pub, full kitchen dining room and a pet friendly patio.
This church-turned-brewery is the coolest one in my book, not only because it’s about 10 miles from my house in Orlando FL, but because the building is still a very active church! They are open as a brewery 7 days a week, complete with 20 BBL craft brewhouse and tours, tasting room, and indoor beer garden with food, games, and entertainment. But the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also (still!) has worship in the building at 11:11am every Sunday. They even offer beer-centric community groups such as Bible + Beer and Beer + Yoga.
It’s been said that if you live in Pittsburgh and love beer, chances are you know about Church Brew Works. The building is the former St. John the Baptist Church, built in 1902 and an active church until 1993. When the brewery took the building over in 1996, they took special effort in maintaining as much of the original interior as possible. It still looks like a beautiful old church!
Their core brands of beer include Celestial Gold, Pipe Organ Pale Ale, Thunderhop and, not surprisingly, Pious Monk Dunkel ;-). They also offer a variety of bottled beers and a rotating list of draft beers, as well as a full menu.
Located in Bryan, OH, this former 1895 Methodist church became a brewery, restaurant, event venue and seasonal outdoor beer garden in 2013. A little trippy, a little hippie, and a little goth, the brewery is known for its “crypt room, ” where diners can look down at a coffin encased under glass – it was found during the renovations of the church.
McMenamins oversees dozens of pubs, hotels and restaurants in Oregon and Washington, most of them in restored buildings such as schools, city buildings and, yes, churches. Their Wilsonville Old Church & Pub, located in Wilsonville, OR, is located in a 1911 era church. The space includes a McMenamins brewery (set in the former church’s basement daycare!), and an outdoor amphitheater for live music, events, receptions, etc.
Located in Saline, Michigan, Salt Springs Brewery is another brewery that maintained as much of its building’s original church architecture.
From their website:
Mammoths & sabertooth tigers once roamed these lands in search of their rich salts. Paleo Indians hunted, farmed and raised families here because of the salt springs. Early settlers named their town Saline after them, and now, in this beautiful 118-year-old former church, so does this brewery.
Salt Springs Brewery offers handcrafted & locally sourced food, true-to-style ales, wine & cider. Science & Craft collide as our resident mad scientist / brewmaster dives deep into water chemistry before each and every batch. From here, craft takes a turn locally malted grains and Michigan sourced hops come together to create both true-to-style ales and lagers (like our crisp Kolsch or Heavenly Hefeweizen) and a few new creations of our own, like our ever popular Cashmere Zeppelin IPA!
Located in the heart of Saline, complete with biergarten and stained glass dining room, Salt Springs Brewery will quench your thirst and nourish your soul.
Built in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1879, St. Joseph Church functioned as a church until 1949, and as a Catholic community center and meeting hall through 1954, It became a brewery in 2015.
They have a full selection of house and seasonal draughts, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menus, and special events such as beer pairing dinners, beer festivals and private events.
Built in 1850, the 49,000 square foot Taft’s Ale House used to be St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, the oldest Protestant church in Cincinnati. It was also the site of the Cincinnati Car Company Factory before it turned into Taft’s Ale House.
Boasting over 20 different in-house beers on tap, they also offer pub food, such as sandwiches and salads.
By the way, that quote up on top? “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Lots of people say that chances are he never said that. He apparently loved his wine, not his beer. But what better quote for an article about breweries housed in buildings that used to be churches, huh?
*** All photos from each brewery’s respective website
*** Special thanks to Jennifer W., who saw this topic on VinePair.com and made me aware of it
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary