The Church Brewing

(Pittsburgh, PA)

The second to last leg of our journey, before arriving back in NY, brought us to family in Pittsburgh, PA.  While in the ‘burgh we couldn’t pass up the chance to pop into the, originally, Saint John the Baptist’s built in 1902. The vast majority of the original work is still in place:  Pews have been refurbished into the dinning benches and tables, the stained glass is still there and the pulpit has even been reserved for housing the brew kettles. I’m not Catholic, but it still feels a little weird boozing it up in a

Rather than a holy enlightenment we started of with a sin: Celestial Gold Pilsner.

Moving on to Thunder Juice IPA-  We did some penance to forget the last brew. I really enjoyed the hop character and the uniquely, citrus burst from the blood orange in this IPA.  A much bolder flavor than the color would lead you to believe.

I wasn’t rewarded for my good deeds with this next beer.  I don’t want to unfairly judge, because I don’t think it was bad, but I think Thunder Juice was a better version of Thunderhop IPA and I should have drank them in the reverse order.

Pious Munk Dunkel was delicious.  Seriously- Crazy good. I don’t normally hold much stock in ‘ASTMO’ or ‘AAPFO’ or whatever acronym you want to use on your beer rating app because I’m of the opinion that lacing and head have nothing to do with how a beer tastes.  While aroma does have a strong tie to flavor, I think proper glassware has more to do with your drink than anything, but I digress. That being said, despite my acronym aversion, Pious Munk really mastered each category. Very well done!

The Coconut Stout was a little disappointing.  There was a nice milk stout backbone, but this stout was thinner than both of the beers on either side of it and didn’t do it for me in the coconut department.

The Mad Brewer outdid himself on this Maibock as well.  Big time malt with just enough balance and seriously smooth for 7.6%.  Much like this beer I think short, sweet and too the point is its best description.

Much like some churches, what you see isn’t always what you get.  Bitter Passion wasn’t really bitter, as the name would suggest, or sour which is what I expected.  I have, after my third or fourth passion fruit beer, decided that essence of passion fruit is very difficult to capture. Regardless, this one was a clean and crisp palate cleanser.

I’ve mentioned before that, on paper, there isn’t a big difference between a Saison/farmhouse and a grisette other than their country of origin and their ABV.  Despite their similarities, my taste buds can’t find enough in common to enjoy a grisette. The Pittsburgh Post Grisette was a disappointing way to end an, otherwise delicious, tasting.

I feel like this tasting jumped around a bit with stark transitions between its highs and lows.  Possibly for the first time ever though, the beer isn’t the #1 variable for this brewery’s rating.  We split a salad and an incredible bahn mi steak sandwich and we enjoyed the beers overall, but we could not escape the pure beauty of this brewery.  We’ve been to a few renovated churches-turned-bars, but Saint John’s is a true work of art. Overall, I give The Church Brew Works an 8.9 out of 10

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