“Brewing Community. Fermenting Love.” As their tag-line implies, Aaron Schmalzle and Jared Witt, founders of Castle Church Brewing Community are going to try to connect you into intentional relationships and partner with you in doing the way of Jesus in the community, regardless of where you’re at in your faith life.
They explain their mission statement this way:
“Ferment v. -to incite or stir up (trouble or disorder).
If you are looking for a God who troubles our complacency and stirs up a movement of love in the world, then Castle Church is probably for you.”
Says Witt, the community’s co-founder and pastor, “For us, God isn’t the ‘thought police,’ constantly making sure that you’re holding the right religious ideas in your head or that you identify with the right denomination. So it really is immaterial, whether you come to us identifying as a believer or a non-believer or a good beer lover or a bad Methodist. We’re more interested in this mysterious transformation of love and compassion for the world, which the Holy Spirit incites in us whenever we break bread and drink wine or simply share an Einbecker Ale together.”
Throughout the week, Castle Church will function like a normal 20 barrel, production brewery with a visitation taproom. The indoor/outdoor destination will feature live events, keynote speakers, beer and hymns, yard games, WiFi access, and semi-private meeting space. But unlike any other of its kind, the space will also be owned and utilized by an alternative faith community.
Mission Developer and co-founder, Aaron, says, “The goal, along with reviving and innovating on some great historic beer styles, is to provide a truly inviting ‘third place’ for people to connect between work and home. We feel that if we can create an intentional space where we ourselves would want to spend any evening of the week, then others will too.” The food menu will focus on “simple quality” and beer pairing suggestions. Board member and Certified Executive Chef, Tony Donnelly, is working to design a seasonal menu with fresh, organic variations on traditional pub food. And as a faith-driven organization, there will be an emphasis on ethically sourced and local ingredients, fair treatment of employees, and sending profits beyond the doors.
Why sing hymns or discuss the Paul’s epistle to the Galatians in a brewery? “It’s well documented that traditional church institutions are declining in numbers, largely, because they are not connecting with my generation,” says, Witt, “but at the same time, we know that people have not lost interest in doing the right things in their neighborhood, connecting with others in a meaningful way, and exploring their spirituality in an affirming environment.” Schmalzle adds, “Whether we’re in a sanctuary or (cont.) a taproom, if we come together and focus on Word and Sacrament and discipleship, we’re confident that Jesus will show.”
While Castle Church won’t be set to open until early 2017, there are ways to get connected. Go to castlechurchbrewing.com/development to support their crowdfunding development project, which is just around $280,000 shy of their 1.4 million dollar goal. Also, follow the progress on their weekly blog/vlog and the following social media:
Facebook – @CastleChurchBrewing
Twitter – @churchbrew
Instagram – CastleChurchBrewing