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Holy spirits: Closed churches find second life as breweries

• http://www.sltrib.com, By Dake Kang

But soon after Gerhart announced his plans, residents and a minister at a Baptist church a block away complained about alcohol being served in the former house of worship.

"I get it, you know, just the idea of putting a bar in God's house," Gerhart said. "If we didn't choose to do this, most likely, it'd fall down or get torn down. I told them we're not going to be a rowdy college bar."

With stained glass, brick walls and large sanctuaries ideal for holding vats and lots of drinkers, churches renovated into breweries attract beer lovers but can grate on the spiritual sensibilities of clergy and worshippers.

At least 10 new breweries have opened in old churches across the country since 2011, and at least four more are slated to open in the next year. The trend started after the 2007 recession as churches merged or closed because of dwindling membership. Sex abuse settlements by the Roman Catholic Church starting in the mid-2000s were not a factor because those payments were largely covered by insurers, according to Terrence Donilon, spokesman for the archdiocese of Boston.

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