An urban legend has it that Benjamin Franklin once said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." One New York City church apparently agrees, having decided to help a recently opened local brewery grow the hops necessary to make beer.
The Bronx congregation at Holy Family Church will be using its garden to grow the hops necessary to create the potent potables of the Bronx Brewery, a six-month-old business.
It was the Rev. Andrew O'Connor, the priest who has headed Holy Family since 2007, who approached the brewers in December as they were planning out their business.
"One hops yard takes three years to grow, so if we get wet hops that go directly into the brew, it will make a nice fresh beer, which is prized," said O'Connor, according to the New York Daily News.
"That's what we're hoping to build on by doing this hops yard. The intention is for the parish to get a taste of local living."
The relationship between brewing and the Catholic Church is a historically close one. In Medieval Europe, monks were known to brew their share of fermented drink. To this day, monks like those at St. Sixtus Abbey in Belgium brew alcoholic beverages; the monks' products regularly make lists of the best beers in the world.
While some churches may accept, help out, or even own breweries, others are opposed to the establishment. Late last year, congregants from Mount Bethel Baptist Church of Augusta County, Va., voiced their opposition to the opening of a brewery near their sanctuary at a meeting of the Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals. They argued that it sent a bad moral message to their youth.
Brad Richardson, youth pastor at Crossroads Baptist Church of Augusta County, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that his church would have also opposed the Virginia brewery.
"I'm sure if it happened on our property, we would be protesting as well," said Richardson, who explained that his congregation is opposed to alcohol even as a social drink.
"I can speak on behalf of our church that we are very much opposed to drinking and alcohol."
Eventually, in January, the Zoning Appeals Board rejected the proposed microbrewery in a 4-0 vote.
In addition to his church helping to grow the hops necessary to brew the beer for Bronx Brewery, O'Connor also oversees a clothing line and cultivates beehives for honey.