When a customer at downtown’s new Holy Trinity Brewing orders the Holy Mutha, a flight of 18 (18?!!?) beers, staffers ring communion bells as the flight is delivered. Upon completion of the Mutha, a Polaroid of the customer is snapped and added to the taproom’s “Wall of Sin.”
“It’s fun to create an experience for people,” said Tim McFeely, who owns the new brewery alongside his wife, Jo McFeely.
And if you guessed that experience has a religious theme to it, you’d be right. Before patrons have even enjoyed their first sip, they’re already knee-deep in the Holy Trinity experience after considering a long list of over the top names like Coco-Berry Jesus (a coconut and raspberry imperial stout), the Hazy Jesus and Sneaky Jesus (a New England IPA and Belgian tripel, respectively), She Devil Irish red, the rotating Saint Kevin, Saint Carey and Saint Aaron (s’mores stout, marzen and imperial IPA) or Water to Wine (a 10% ABV wheatwine).
Hell… er Heck, Happy Hour has even been rebranded Holy Hour at the taproom, which features a photo of a stereotypical Jesus behind the bar urging patrons to “Chill out.”
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And if you’re having trouble discerning whether all this religious stuff is in jest or genuine, the answer, McFeely delivered with a grin, is “Yes.” He and details believe they serve as practicing Christians while still allowing their faith to be an unorthodox and hilarious cornerstone of Holy Trinity.
Until recently a nurse manager at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, McFeely started home brewing in central Pennsylvania before he and his family moved to Westerville in 2014 – small batches that were cheaper to make than buying Bud or Miller Lite, and better-tasting, too.
“It was just to drink at home – nice, drinkable beers,” McFeely said.
In Ohio, he was encouraged by friends to first try other styles and, later, to see if unbiased palates liked them, too. His Coco-Berry Jesus took first place in the Ohio State Home Brewing Competition, and that’s when McFeely felt he might be onto something, after realizing “it wasn’t just my wife and I and our friends who liked it.”
The McFeelys’ “leap of faith” was tested in the coming years, from struggles in finding the right location to delays on multiple fronts – permitting, construction, equipment, supply chain – brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The location issue was solved when he first saw the former dance studio-in-front-weightlifting gym-in-the-back space on 5th Street downtown. And while the wooden dance floor was deemed unfit for its new use, it was removed and lives on as the tables and bar at Holy Trinity.
Pandemic delays were met with patience, perseverance and some prayer, McFeely said. Indeed, even opening months after schedule, Holy Trinity wasn’t granted its final occupancy until the day it opened, Dec. 22, 2021.
“The city gave us approval at 11:30, and we opened around 4:00,” McFeely said with a smile and a shake of his head.
The weeks since saw the home brewer turned commercial brewer in his element. Holy Trinity is both dog- and family-friendly, so there’s a fun mix of customers. And he finds that, while people may be initially intrigued by the beer names, they provide an access point for patrons to discuss recipes and styles. Indeed, McFeely says he’s “got a beer for everybody” among his taps, from 18 beer varieties plus hard seltzer.
“We make a ton of variety, not only to appeal to different tastes but hopefully to open people up to the idea of trying something that they think might not be in their wheelhouse,” he said.
So while McFeely figures the name of Jesus has been spoken more in this block of downtown in the last six weeks than maybe any time before, he’s mostly interested in evangelizing folks to good beer.
If you like this, read: Here’s when Goodwood Brewing plans to open its new Arena District taproom and restaurant
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