2015 BEER DISCOVERY TOUR: The Church Brew Works, Pittsburgh, PA (June 30, Brewery Stop #16) The 16th brewery visited on our cross-country beer discovery tour (click to read about the whole trip) was The Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh PA. After enjoying a wide range of great beers at East End, we stopped on our way to The Church at Caliente Pizza & Draft House for a few pints of local brews, as this was one of our hosts favorite bars/restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of beers available at Caliente and the servers were really helpful in describing them and making recommendations. As it was quickly approaching dinner time so we finished up our pints and migrated to The Church, which was just a few minutes away by car. The neighborhoods we traveled through were really cool, historic, and obviously in the ‘up-in-coming’ category as one might say.
I was sort of surprised that a brewery would be allowed to purchase and occupy a church, but it’s really there and quite awesome. Rusty shared with us that this is the only one in town, as the city caught a large backlash against churches being sold to private companies and being turned into something else. Well, if the building is derelict and not being used, why not? As you can see from the pictures, they restored the church to it’s full beauty, didn’t really change the outside of the building at all, it looks vary much like a church and they even kept most of the aspects of the original purpose of the building, St. John’s the Baptist and Lawrenceville. The company put a LOT of effort to restoring the rooms and stained glass windows to their former glory.
The main entrance is a huge set of wooden doors, nice entry room with lots of local information and such about the local community and city. The main room has the brewing equipment along the left and back walls and the kitchen is back in the vestry/vestibule (room at the back of the church). They have bar seating along the left wall where the ‘bar’ is. Their tap list is on a board and covers their seasonal’s and year-rounds. The main central part is where the tables, seats, restored pews are. Walking into this space had me flashing back to my youth, going to St. Mary’s Cathedral every week for services back in Lincoln NE. It’s a great, welcoming space with beautiful stained glass windows and ambiance.
We were fortunate to get a table for the group as it was dinner time and they usually require reservations for larger groups. We met up with one of Gary’s former students that lives in town for dinner and drinks there. We ordered our food which did take a bit of time to come out. They were really super busy so this was to be expected. The beer sampler came out pretty fast and everyone was able to order drinks without much problem.
While the beers overall fall into that ‘mid-range’ for flavor and approach, they do a good job and keep everything within reason. Top performer was the Munich Dunkel Lager. Not every brewery can have the best beer out there, but this is the ONLY brewery and restaurant inside of a huge church. The samples we tried include their year-round beers plus a few seasonal’s. I would highly put this on your list of places to visit if you’re ever in Pittsburgh. It’s an awe-inspiring opportunity to drink some local brews while embracing the history and ambiance of the city and this great neighborhood.
The Church Brew Works
3525 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15201
The Church Brew Works • German Pilsener • IBU: ?? • ABV: 4.1% • 6 SRM
Darker golden yellow hue, solid white head with no retention and some lacing on the rim. The nose is grassy hops, slight yeast, dry. The front mouth is dry, lemon and herbal hops, grassy and good effervescence from the carbonation. The mid to back is dry, crisp, and slight sharper edge from the grassy hop and shallow cracker like malt build. The overall take is that it’s a decent take on German Pils, solid body and flavor profile.
|Pipe Organ Pale Ale
The Church Brew Works • American Pale Ale (APA) • IBU: ?? • ABV: 5.2% • 7 SRM
Golden colored, softer foamy white head with no retention, clingy lacing. The nose is floral and fruit hop with hits of fresh cut grass. The front to mid has a soft sweet malt present with the citrus and dry hay approach. The hops are really secondary to the grains. Low carbonation lets it fall flat on the tongue.
|Pious Monk Dunkel
The Church Brew Works • Munich Dunkel Lager • IBU: ?? • ABV: 5.3% • 26 SRM
Draft is a darker red/mahogany color with a slight head that fell quickly to a fuzzy layer on the top with spidery small bubbles in the lacing. The nose is a nice range of sugary malts, light roasted nuts, earthy and solid. The front mouth expresses a lot of caramel malts, ground roasted nuts, toast-bread and a slight hit of herbal hops. The mid to back has a lot of complexity to it, the hops come into play more with a nice solid body and decent carbonation to hold it together.
|Blast Furnace Stout
The Church Brew Works • Oatmeal Stout • IBU: ?? • ABV: 4.8% • 35+ SRM
Not completely opaic, dark brown/black with a slight off-white head that had no retention and some clingy lacing. The nose was a little bit vegital (dry leaves) and fresh bread. The front mouth is really decent with a bread-oat and barley feel with a small amount of sweet, yeasty notes, and subtle hops (florals). Little to no hops present on the mid and back has a full chewy mouth-feel. No coffee or chocolates to speak of, which is nice.
The Church Brew Works • Oatmeal Stout • IBU: ?? • ABV: 6.5% • 10 SRM
Slight straw-yellow and orange highlights on this draft with vary little head or retention. Slight rim of foam in the lacing that dropped quickly also. The nose is a bit intense with herbal, pine, and citrus hop notes. The front mouth is really hop forward, solid citrus rind, grapefruit juice, pine resins and some slight crackery malts on the supporting side. The mid to back is a full mouth attack of hops while being just a mid-bodied beer with mild carbonation. Long ranging bitters that end in grassy and grapefruit acidity.
The Church Brew Works • Kellerbier / Zwickelbier • IBU: ?? • ABV: 6% • 5 SRM
Yellow-straw hue with a small bubbly head that dropped quickly, little to no lacing. The nose is sweet and lemon zesty (hops). The front mouth is forward with a lot of hop citrus, floral, and notes of grass. The cracker/crystal malts are there to support the full mouth-feel. The mid and back flavors fade quickly and leave a watery/juicy feel.