Key West’s Loss is New Buffalo’s Gain. How a Michigan Beach Town Does Beer and Church

I always love the architecture of a church. A classic look with a steeple, the beacon of a community looking to everyone with almost a greeting. A strong symbol of stability, steadfastness and a quiet greeting to anyone new.  We have many churches along our Southeast Shores. One church, in particular, greets us with such a grin. Its steeple welcomes you a bevy of beers and, most recently, Neapolitan pizza. Friends, we’d like you to meet Beer Church. I visited John, one of the founders. I learned alot and happy to share those findings with you.

The story begins with a fun beer festival. Beer Church creators, John and Jane, were having fun in Chicago, sipping beers and began brainstorming with things around ‘beer’. What other words could you combine with beer and create a place? ‘Church’ came to mind. And Beer Church was born. Avid travelers, the duo began the journey to find just the place to create a  beer community.

A trip to Key West, FL almost meant that Hemingway’s old stomping grounds would be home to Beer Church. For various reasons, this wasn’t in the cards and thus began a new site search. Enter New Buffalo, Michigan.

When Beer Church opened, it was just beer. I loved having the option of another place in the area to read, meet friends and relax. Next came the creation of a beautiful outdoor patio space, complete with a fireplace. Then came the outdoor beer igloos - a heated escape from the winter cold. But the innovation didn’t stop there. John and Jane began to tease out the idea of an authentic Neapolitan pizza experience coming to the Church.

I mentioned how much John and Jane liked to travel. The research paid off - the area could use a Brewery Pizzeria Napoletana. The team didn’t waste any time. They received first hand training with Roberto Caporuscio, President of Associazione Pizzaioli Napoletani America. In other words, the Beer Church crew got training on how to make pizza many of you know from Naples - straight from the experts.

I’ve had about five pizzas from Beer Church, in addition to the brews. What can I say? It’s delicious. The redesign of the space makes Beer Church the kind of place where you would want to enjoy a few ball games (they have at least eight screens) or hang out with friends (in addition to the counter I sat for pizza, there is both a regular bar, but also a middle seating area in the middle of the space next to the bar). In addition to the traditional and funky pizza options, there is more on the menu to keep you coming back.

The chicken wings are really...meaty. It’s the best way to describe them. The sandwiches are hearty and the salads are on point. In addition to the eight bars on tap (as much as 10 coming this summer), you can enjoy a full bar of wine, spirits and more.

Lucky for us locals, Beer Church is open year round.  With the summer season before us, we’re excited for visitors to enjoy the goodness we’ve experienced this winter. WTTW’s Geoffrey Baer had it right when he decided to spotlight Beer Church in the 'Chicago on Vacation' special.

John and Jane, thanks for choosing New Buffalo over Key West!

Beer Church is located at 24 S. Whittaker St. in New Buffalo, MI