Brew Biz: Werts and All

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

The Church Brew Works
3525 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15201-1324
(412) 688-8200

The brewer:

The Church was probably one of the first reviews I helped a friend write and edit. If I find a copy I’ll ask The Professor to publish it.

It’s not an easy pub to get to. The best way from the north is to take I-79 south until you find I-279 to Pittsburgh. Head towards Pittsburgh and just before the river get off for route 28 east. You cross over a couple streets and there should be a half hidden sign on your left. Some fool cut a hole in the fence and it’s blocked so you can’t read it until you’re almost past it. Go left until the 31st street bridge. Over the river and through the… buildings… to The Church we go. Maybe we’ll meet Grandma? Hope she likes good beer. Maybe she’ll buy; Grandmas are always so giving. It’s the second left over the bridge: Liberty. Look carefully for The Church on your left.

No, that’s not the natural lighting. This is the official “I can’t figure my camera out” tour this year. Neither can the lady at Staples or two pro photographers who were at The Church that day.

Anyway, you walk in and, after the usual Catholic foyer, the door opens up and you see…

Here’s a slightly different perspective from urbanspoon.com…

Did you notice they were having lighting problems too? Now I don’t feel so bad; except… now what do I do with the self adjusting rack and screw I bought to torture myself into better picture taking techniques? Yard sale? Drop it off at Goodwill? Oops. Not a “Goodwill.” That was a police station. Slllllllllllllllooooowly tip toe away.

Here are a couple more pictures at different angles where Church goers stuff their face with communion crackers.

What, no “communion wafers?” Dang. Well I went cheapo: excellent bean soup.

All this under stained glass windows…

…and the pews which had been cut in half after the Catholics sold this church.

I spoke with briefly with Head Brewer Brant Dubovick who hails from New York City area originally: Long Island, or “Lang I’ll Wand,” as some say. I believe he told me The Hamptons.

He naturally looks like that due to his super human brewing powers. (No, everyone is still trying to figure out Ken’s camera.)

His suggestion for homebrewers…

“Keep doing what you’re doing. Dig through history for lesser known, and less brewed, brews.”

He’d love to have a better bottling line, especially one that handles larger bottles…

(“Hey, Santa Baby, if it’s not too heavy and just right, can you stuff a bottling line, into Brant’s sock Christmas night…”)

They did 2400 barrels last year. Wow. Their equipment: Specific Mechanical, pretty much one of the standards in the industry. They use Weyerman malts and Hop Union hops: the latter one under a contract he is hoping to get out of. (See profile with the brewer at The Brewerie in Erie, PA.)

Well beer was flowing a bit much for a long drive to Ohio, so I sipped down my final glass of MM. It was on hand pulled.

The “M:” is for their 1,000th batch. Brant wasn’t sure where the other “M” came from. It used Amarillo and Palisade and seemed a bit earthy and grassy. Since this was a hoppy Black Ale I minded neither: I’m a fan of fresh hops… though I was never told this was that… and “earthy” describes some English hops, which I also like. But as it warmed it became a bit harsh to me… not sure why. I couldn’t quite get what the defect was, the darker malts and the hops doing a good job masking it: though astringent certainly applied once the glass was real warm. I’m speaking as a judge now: besides all that I kept ordering. This is the first defect I found in my many visits.

The various samples I had were good and I got to taste the upcoming Furnace Blast Stout which was replacing the MM on their rotating stout tap. Very good, but to be a fair judge, I’d need to try it with the infused coffee that they never finished infusing.

Oh, bugger. Love coffee stouts. Sorry I missed it.

I also left with a growler with a growler filled with a light spiced ale known as Ambrosia for my beer tastings in Beaver River Station in a few weeks. Named after the 70s rock group? I doubt it. I was sworn to secrecy, but there was some lip balm in there. I won’t mention the other. You would think, “Lip balm? GACK!” But it was rather tasty.

So I crossed myself a few times as I looked up at the sign that reads, “I live in the faith of the Son who loves me and gave himself up for me…”

(Isn’t Ken’s camera delightful?)

Out under the skylight.

To the other side…

And to my left: around back where the best parking is…

I left, passing by The Church; on my to Ohio, after having promised I’d come back for a brewer profile more in depth on the brewer’s beer and a lot more on the history of The Church.

And I will.

(Thanks Wiki for a non-Ken’s camera great picture!)

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Brew Biz: Werts and All, is a column dedicated to reviewing, discussing and commenting on all things beer including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives all things beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the beer business, and all the various homebrew, judging and organizations related to beer. Essentially, all things “beer.”


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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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