St Mary’s Brewery
A CHURCH is setting up a craft brewery in its crypt to help fund youth work.
The Bishop of Edmonton, Father Rob Wickham, helped sample some of the first brews as the eye-catching plan was given approval from leading church figures at a launch on Saturday.
Bottles of beer will now go on sale at St Mary’s in Elsworthy Road, Primrose Hill, as the church looks to raise £50,000 to cover the costs of two full-time youth workers, while some of the ale will be sold in shops and pubs.
Rather than cause raised eyebrows that a “nano-brewery” will be installed in the basement of a holy buildin, church wardens said the plan follows a “long tradition of beer-making”. The beer is currently being prepared in Bermondsey before equipment is installed in the crypt and the brewing takes place on site.
Beer lover and church warden Stephen Reynolds said: “We’re not brewing high-alcohol beers and we wouldn’t encourage drinking before the eucharist but if people want to buy a beer after after they can”.
He has the backing of vicar Marjorie Brown and worked on the project with long-term worshipper Roddy Monroe.
“We had this crazy idea of setting up a brewery, we went to the vicar thinking she might say it is not what you should be doing in a church, but she thought it was fantastic,” said Mr Reynolds. “We phoned the Bishop and he said you can do it on two conditions. First, that he gets to bless the first pint, and second that we do a non-alcoholic drink as well, we’re still working on that.”
The church’s youth programme helps 300 local children, and Mr Reynolds added: “Our youth club is not about people playing table tennis or Fifa, it’s about getting out into the community with detached youth work targeting socially excluded young people and keeping them away from gangs.”
He has been learning how to brew for eight months and explained that he got off to a rocky start but that the drinks had now been perfected. “We had some disastrous batches, they tasted like chemicals, you needed to sit down for half an hour after having a pint, but now we’ve got some great beer,” he said.
Father Wickham, the Bishop of Edmonton, turned up with John Hawkins the Archdeacon of Hampstead at the launch event to bless the first half-pint of the IPA, a “citrusy, light craft beer”.
The nano brewery has already caught the eye of local off-licences and publicans, with several bars expressing interest in stocking the beer.
As part of the brewery launch a beer club is also being set up for the community where everyone can learn beer brewing, go to lectures lectures and beer tastings, visit breweries and become “part of the craft beer revolution”.
Camden New Journal By ELLA JESSEL
All photos by Lars Christiansen