Ever since Pittsburgh’s cathedral brewery, The Church, came into existence during ’99, followed by Grand Rapid’s zymurgic chapel, Brewery Vivant, there’ve been a few places of worship springing up as brewpubs nationally.
North of Fells Point in the urbanized Washington Hill neighborhood, MINISTRY OF BREWING took over St. Michael’s Church January ’20. Its pristinely evocative Cathedral ceiling, restored religious paintings, stain glass windows and pearly Corinthian columns provide a majestic setting.
There are butcher block tables on both sides of the white-tiled central corridor and a choir balcony for further seating. The vast 30-seat right side bar with oyster-shelled poured concrete top features ‘rotating spectrum’ of at least a dozen beers. Brewtanks and vats are located at the altar.
I soaked up eight delightful suds on my December ’22 pilgrimage.
Dry lemon spritz and mild lemongrass herbage prickled Kolsch With No Name, a simple relaxing moderation.
Eccentric Spice Must Flow Cream Ale placed vanilla and cardamom adjuncts inside spruce-tipped minting and cologne perfuming.
Salty lemon-dried orange tartness swept thru the mild vanilla creaming of Kreamsickle Kolsch, leaving slight hay acridity on the tail end.
Lemon-limed cherry souring and modest rhubarb tartness enticed Rhuby Sunglasses, a coriander salted gose with delicate white bread spine.
Vibrantly tropical Galaxy/Eldorado hops allow peachy passionfruit and pineapple tang and lemony cherry snips to caress the dry-wooded grassy hop astringency of brusque Lady Day Pale Ale, a feisty little Billie Holiday celebrator from her Baltimore hometown.
Then there were three dark ales.
Cream sugared coffee splendor picked up caramel burnt chocolate fudging and a nutty remnant to engage Dark Wave English Porter.
In its barrel aged version, dark chocolate, dry cocoa and nutty espresso surged against the mildly creamed coffee tones, letting tarry black malt bittering gain traction.
Oats-sugared brown chocolate and spiced caramel gathered for Houndstooth Oatmeal Stout, a sweet, rich full body.
For its Barrel Aged Houndstooth, dark chocolate syruping soaked up the overwhelmed apple brandy aging, allowing dry medium roast coffee, raw molasses and charred nuttiness to gain a bitterer edge.
Coffee-stained dark chocolate gained bitterness from the dark-roast hop char and subtle nuttiness of 9.9 Problems Imperial Stout, a bold nightcap.