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Suds in the sanctuary: breweries populate vacant US churches | Lifestyles



“All of our names of our beers are typically Baltimore references or something about the neighborhood,” said Jon Holley, the brewery’s general manager. “As far as religious terms, imagery, things like that, we already know that being in a church is a sensitive thing for a lot of people, so we’re not trying to touch that at all.”

The church was built in 1857 and was home to a German Catholic congregation and, later, a Spanish-speaking congregation before closing due to the cost of upkeep. In 2018, the Ministry of Brewing began a full renovation to preserve and restore many of the original elements of the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The church reopened to the public as a brewery in January 2020, featuring a dazzling interior with soaring columns and a mural-painted barrel ceiling. The brewery also hosts events, fundraisers and even local delegate debates.

Though Holley said he “half expected” pushback for residing in a historic church, the brewery has received overwhelming support. Most often, he said, patrons can be found enjoying the brewery’s bestselling hazy pale ale called “Wispy,” a reference to wispy stained glass.

Like the other two breweries, Dirt Church Brewing Co. in Vermont is intentional about its beer names. Its flagship beer? It’s named “Rejoice,” after Lindsay’s mother, Joyce.



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