Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Praise Jesus and Pour Me a Good Pale Ale

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Praise Jesus and Pour Me a Good Pale Ale

Article excerpt

Jesus always gets cast as more of a wine guy.

But his name figures into the creation of an up-and-coming Western Pennsylvania brewpub, the three founders of which all publicly and proudly describe themselves as followers as Jesus Christ.

On the website of Reclamation Brewing Co. (reclamationbrewing.com), they even posit their "theology" of beer, noting that while Jesus and home brewing "may seem to be a contradiction in some people's minds ... [w]e believe that beer is among the many good gifts with which God has blessed mankind."

One of the principals, John Smith, is a Reformed Baptist pastor near Kittaning; his son, Ben "Dennis" Smith, is an admissions counselor at Geneva College, the Christian college in Beaver Falls. Their partner is Ben Duncan, a price estimator for a company that makes bullet-resistant glass who leads worship at his church and who lives in Templeton, Armstrong County.

They all stress that you don't have to think like they do to enjoy their brews, but they'll be happy to talk about it.

"We're not handing out tracts and Bibles or anything," says Ben Smith, who's 24. "That's just who we are. If you want to talk about it, we'll talk about it; if you don't we won't."

You can meet all three of them Saturday, Nov. 10, at the third- annual Butler's Brewfest at the Days Inn Butler. Reclamation is one of several breweries that will be pouring at the fest from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission ($18 or $20 at the door) gets you beer and food samples and live music. There's also a homebrew competition, and attendees can vote for the best India pale ale from several mid- sized brewers; for more details, call Keith Dawson at 724-287-6761 or email him at kdaws18@aol.com.

The guys also will do 6 p.m. tastings on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Bocktown in Monaca (where they'll be followed by the band Breadline Preachers) and on Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Bocktown in North Fayette (bocktown.com).

Reclamation is now in the seemingly obligatory Kickstarter phase, aiming to raise $35,000 in donations via Kickstarter.com to buy equipment, complete paperwork, secure a building -- most likely in Butler County -- and build their brewpub. They would sell their own beer their on draft and in growlers to go, and sell kegs to other watering holes in the region.

As of Wednesday morning, people had pledged $10,500-plus with two weeks (14 days) to go.

If the campaign succeeds, and if they can get their state and federal licenses quickly, Ben Smith says they could be up and running next year. If they have to raise money another way, it'll take longer, but they still plan to open.

Their Facebook page notes, "A Baptist pastor, a college admissions counselor, and a cost analyst decide to build a brewery ... No punch line, that's our story."

They've been brewing and sharing their beer since Ben Smith's May wedding, when, he says, "People didn't know we made it and they were complimenting it. …

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