Finding My ReligionOct 13, 2003 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Refrigerators and FreezersThe Bottom Line Beer suited for the spiritual journey.
After listening to R.E.M., I found I had lost my religion. Spirituality was lost to me. But I was not content to be a lost sheep. I sought guidance in the form of liquid inspiration. One of the nice things about the recent trip to Chicago was that there are many great places between here and there.
On the way home, we detoured in Pittsburgh for lunch and a couple brews. It will be no surprise to the beer geeks on the site that we found our way to Liberty Ave. We had the good sense not to stop at the first brewery on the Street. Many will foolishly stop at Pittsburgh Brewing Co to slurp a few Iron City Lagers.
For those who pretentiously cling to the notion that more finely crafted beer can exist, there is an alternative only a couple blocks away. One can choose to continue on Liberty Ave until they get to The Church Brew Works. This is a great brewpub that is an essential stop for any beer geek. It is unique because the brewpub was established in an old Catholic church. Apparently, the archdiocese sold off the building and a brewpub was born.
Now I realize that some people may be offended at the notion of a brewpub in a former church but surely they will agree that it is better than an abandoned building commandeered by crack addicts. The archdiocese made money on the sale and beer drinkers have a heavenly place to toss down a couple pints. The former St John the Baptist now recognizes the sainthood of Gambrinus.
It is a very lovely setting to drink a couple beers. The stained glass windows remain in tact. The original floor and ceiling were renovated back to original form and the original pews are used in the dining room. The vats at the altar also present a spectacular sight. But as stunning as the decor may be, the real reason to be here is for the beer.
They have several house beers that are year round as well as some choice seasonal offerings. Celestial Gold, Pious Monk Dunkel, Pipe Organ Pale Ale and Bell Tower Brown Ale are the regulars in the rotation. I have had these in the past and found them all to be very good beers. For this visit, I opted to check out the seasonal brews.
My first brew was the Octoberfest. It had a pleasing amber color and a nice crisp flavor. It was hearty beer but a bit on the chewy side. It seemed to be hopped more strongly than most Octoberfests. I'm a hophead but this style tends to rely more on malt nuance and a juicy drinkability. This was very good and had a nice kick at 5.2% abv but not please the purist.
Next up on the agenda was a DunkelWeizen. It had a nice tawny hue with some cloudiness. I noted the classic banana bread character that many dark wheats attain. I wouldn't call it the best Dunkelweizen ever but it was very good. It weighed in at 4.8% abv which is slightly lower than most weizens.
The last beer on the agenda for this visit was their Non Denominator Doppelbock. I really like the name and the use of the traditional -ator ending for a double bock. This was my favorite of the three that I tried on this visit. It was served in a 10 oz glass (obviously for my own protection) as it weighed in a healthy 8.1% abv. I found it to have a malty and yeasty character in the nose. It was very smooth for the style. It was full bodied but not overly thick. It could be consumed quicker than many double bocks. It had a nice toasted nuance in the taste, too.
I have yet to dine at The Church so I can not give first hand account of their food. I have heard from others that it is quite good. They serve a range that runs from high end entrees like filet mignon or chargrilled salmon to sandwiches and wood fired pizza. They also offer several dishes for vegetarian and vegan diners. The food can be a bit pricy but I do plan on eating there sometime in the near future.
This is a fabulous brewpub. The beers are very good and it is a very aesthetically pleasing place to take in a couple pints. A lot of care went into restoring features of the original church and much effort went into making this a simply divine beer experience. Beer fanatics in Pittsburgh do need to check this place out.
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