Ministry of Brewing aims to be a congregation of libations, music and fellowship
After eight years of vacancy, St. Michael’s Church in Upper Fells Point reopened its doors recently not to congregants, but to the Ministry of Brewing, Baltimore’s newest brewing company and community attraction.
Like most Catholic churches, St. Michael’s has a grandiose, fiercely erected structure, piercing the sky with a gleaming cross; it’s not the first place one would think to open a brewery. But its holy look doesn’t seem to detract from its latest mission.
The Ministry offers an eclectic, Baltimore- inspired menu of beverages, including soda for the young and sober and cider or the beer-timid. Some examples of the suds: “Lady Day,” named after Baltimore’s own Billie Holiday, is a pale ale bursting with flavor. Drinkers after looking for a muddier experience can try “Old Maude,” a brown ale resembling the superb richness of cacao. Then there is the citrusy, “Sunpatch.”
For now, the ministry serves popcorn by the bowl and has plans to introduce a food menu soon. Like a church, the brewery aims to be a community-friendly space, and this unifying mission comes across right away.
As customers cross the threshold, they behold glasses foaming at the brim, board-game collections scattered across tables, children circling each other and music spilling over the balcony and into the sanctuary. It is a congregation of libations, music and fellowship.
“This is something Baltimore can be proud of,” says co-founder Ernst Valery, a Baltimore native. “As a developer and community member, inclusion is paramount. We want everyone to feel included,” he adds. “We want to bring something positive to Baltimore.”
Prior to the Ministry’s opening, Valery and his partners spent months canvassing the community, inquiring about the needs of the neighborhood and immersing themselves in the very area they intended to serve.
The result is a very modern and current institution, a brewpub that pays homage to the congregation that was there before. The menu signage is engraved on stained glass panels. The wooden tables are stationed where church pews were once mounted—preserving the long aisle that carried brides, church members and priests. And adorning the pulpit are the brewing instruments used to craft the beer.
1900 E. Lombard St. ministryofbrewing.com