3525 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
The craft beer boom has meant new breweries are popping up all over the place. Oftentimes new brewers get creative with the real estate; from long-vacant industrial spaces to innocuous strip malls, farmhouses, and old fashioned barns, you find craft beer spots just about anywhere. But to blow everyone else out of the water in creative re-use? Go for an old church building. So it is with Church Brew Works, sitting inside this massive old chapel in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, this one serves food and local beer into the late hours with its fearless motto: “And on the eighth day … man created beer.”
The spot boasts an interesting selection of beers. Among those I have tried:
- Celestial Gold: This one aims to be a light beer, to lead the palette. A pleasant aroma and just the lightest aftertaste. Nice and simple.
- Pipe Organ Pale Ale: The use of caramel malts make this one noticeably thicker-bodied, but still with a light taste, so it’s no wonder it’s served right after the Celestial Gold in each flight. Aroma is caramel for sure, but the finish is mild.
- Pious Monk Dunkel: The smell on this one is immediately comforting; it’s got a toasty aroma but even with its darker color, this beer has a distinctly crisp finish.
- Thunderhop IPA: While the hop-heavy India Pale Ale is all the rage these days, this version sports a noticeably lighter touch on the hop end. In fact, it’s got a relatively mild aroma and the hops hit more as an aftertaste.
- Saaz Monster: This one come with a distinct, and a bit fruity, aroma which makes for a very significant departure from the warmer and heavier flavors of the other beers in the Church Brew Works repertoire.
- Blast Furnace Stout: This is one of the seasonal, rotating stouts. An oatmeal variety, it’s got a very heavy body and a memorable aftertaste.
- Southern Thunder: Three kinds of hops come together to build this American IPA and the result is a sturdy 7 percent ABV and a bit of a bite.
- Oktoberfest: A fall beer, naturally, this one has a nice, slightly malty and toasty flavor. Comforting in the fall as those leaves turn and the air gets a bit cool.
- ThunderCloud: A New England IPA sometimes found on the seasonal list of drafts here. Try to the style, assertive in the hop and a bit of upfront bitterness in the finish.
There’s also a food menu. Recommendation:
- Banh mi Steak: Based on a cheesesteak recipe that is very popular here, the banh mi features a hoisin sauce marinated steak, cucumbers, cilantro basil and picked peppers and onions, all topped with a moderately spicy mayo. Kind of half cheesesteak kind of sandwich and all around delicious.
The beer menu stays relatively small, with a modest number of core beers and a heavy list of rotating seasonal specialties. That makes this spot a lot of fun; it’s got something new for you to try every time you come around. The spot also offers a variety of food to go along with those brews, and it’s certainly a popular spot for that unique feel.
All in all, it’s a worthwhile thing to try, and definitely a mark off of the bucket list to try beer brewed in a church.
- Each flight comes with six beers; the first four remain the same staples this spot prefers to make time and again, and several others are seasonal.
- The menu also has some food to go along with the drinks. While the bar closes at midnight on weekends, though, that kitchen can close significantly sooner.
- Look for the beer made here in a number of other spots around the city. An updated list is on their website.