Rayburn pastor creates microbrewery to educate, enjoy
Pastor John Smith is on a mission, but not one that you might expect: He's on a crusade to restore the good name of beer.
Smith, who has been pastor of Pine Creek Baptist Church in Rayburn for 15 years, along with his son, Ben “Dennis” Smith, 24, of Beaver Falls and family friend Ben Duncan, 30, of Templeton, recently established Reclamation Brewing Co., a fledgling microbrewery with lofty aspirations.
“Our desire is to both make really good beer and to educate people about its history,” said Smith, 44. “We want to help people overcome some of the negative ideas they might have about the culture and to present beer the way it ought to be.”
It started about a year and a half ago when a trip to Ireland inspired the company founders to bring back the ideologies they were immersed in.
“We went to one pub in a small village, and they welcomed us as foreigners as if we were one of their own,” Smith said. “Pubs have historically been a place where people would gather, connect with each other, talk about life and celebrate. In America, that by and large, got subjugated during Prohibition when the beer culture was forced underground and its reputation never really recovered.”
Upon their return, the trio turned their attention to brewing a quality homemade beer for their own use.
“It really started because all three of us have a love for craft beers,” Smith said. “Ben (Duncan) had some extra raspberries that we used to make some wine, and that quickly morphed into making beer for personal consumption and then some for a wedding and other small events. But as more people tried it, everyone said we really had to try to make it more widely available.”
Although none of the men had training in brewing, they quickly began experimenting with unique recipes that appealed to their taste buds and their shared spirituality. “Promised Land Imperial Ale” is a milk and honey flavored brew that references the biblical description of the holy land. “Carey Me Home Imperial IPA,” named in honor of 19th-century Baptist missionary William Carey, blends grapefruit, orange and tropical fruits with caramel.
“The name ‘Carey Me Home' also is playing on the fact that it's 10 percent (alcohol by volume),” said Smith with a laugh. “So someone might actually have to carry you home.”
For now, however, there are only a select few places you can try any of Reclamation Brewing Co.'s beers. In order to be licensed, Smith said federal and state laws state that the company must first secure a physical location to sell from. Although they're in negotiations with a few different building owners in the Butler area, Smith said the microbrew can only offer their drinks at tasting events like the upcoming Butler Brewfest on Nov. 10.
In an effort to raise the $35,000 needed to get their business off the ground, Reclamation Brewing Co. has set up an online crowd-funding campaign that anyone can contribute to on Kickstarter.com. The fundraiser runs through Nov. 21 and if the company fails to reach its goal, the company won't receive any of the donations.
“It's going well,” said Smith. “Eighty-two percent of the projects (funded on Kickstarter) that reach 20 percent of their goals go on to succeed, and we're already above that mark.”
If their brew pub becomes a reality, Smith said, the last thing Reclamation Brewing Co. will need to do is convince remaining non-believers.
“When people find out a pastor is a brewer, sometimes, it raises some eyebrows,” said Smith. “But while the Bible condemns improper excessive use of alcohol, it never condemns proper use. There's no contradiction between being a follower of Christ and a lover of good beer.”
For more information and to pitch in, visit ReclamationBrewing.com.
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- West Kittanning still wrestling with whether to fix or replace patrol car
- Kittanning man the third sentenced in St. Patrick’s Day fatal beating
- McGrann family to see ‘angel’s’ dream come true
- Armstrong industrial park taking steps to lure developers
- Kittanning Dance-a-Thon to help boy’s family
- Newest union plans picket outside ACMH Hospital in East Franklin
- Snow sculptures brighten family’s West Kittanning yard
- DEP seeks origin of toxic chemicals left on road in Kittanning Twp.
- Pizza, other sweet treats offered at new Worthington restaurant
- West Kittanning approves sign moratorium
- Armstrong commissioners race growing each day