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Former church becomes craft beer tasting room

Posted at 4:38 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 20:58:59-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A century-old former church in the East Village that once fell into disrepair has been transformed into a glistening craft beer tasting room.

Jenna Sloan has poured thousands of beers for San Diegans over the years, but most not in a place as unique as where she stood Thursday. Sloan pulled at the taps under a stained-glass cross and statues of good and evil biblical figures.

"We have our sinner and our saint," she said.

Sloan is the G.M. of The Lost Abbey craft brewery's newest location, called The Church. It's inside the shell of a 116-year-old building that used to serve as a Mexican Presbyterian church but had become dilapidated. After a $1 million project, the walls are now lined with images of religious figures, benches resemble pews, and chandeliers hang from the ceiling.

The tasting room opened in December, a couple of years after the church was moved 100 feet from its original location on the corner of 13th and J in downtown.

"The reason it's called The Lost Abbey is because we never had a real church, or a real abbey building," brewery co-founder Tomme Arthur said. "But welcome to the new church and the new abbey, so now we're a found abbey."

Arthur said he envisions the tasting room as a neighborhood spot for those in the tall apartment and condo buildings that surround it, as well as a place for Padres fans to hang out before heading to Petco Park a couple blocks away. Crews are continuing to work on an outdoor taco shack and eating area next to the tasting room, which should be done in time for baseball season.

The project makes for a bright spot amid the pandemic and annual inflation soaring to 7 percent, hitting craft brewers for necessities like barley and cans.

"Just about every single thing that we buy is up in price, and there's some surcharge things, there's some long-term things," Arthur said. "It's been really ridiculous."

Still, he sees a bright future inside a former East Village church that has a new life.