Stout Life Approved – Father John’s Brewing Company

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Father John's BrewingIs it a church or a brewery?  Could it be both? Father John’s Brewing Company in Bryan, Ohio, was exactly that.

Relaxing at Stoney Ridge Winery just down the street, (thanks to Harvest Hosts) getting ready to settle in for the night, we had to Google breweries for this neck of the woods. Coming across Father John’s, looking exactly like our cup of tea (or beer), tomorrow evening’s plans were set.

Father John’s – Church or Brewery?

A town of about 8,000 people, it was a typical small town, a traffic light or two, a small park, exhausted downtown buildings trying their best to look new and dressed up, quaint houses with well-manicured lawns, and several churches, including Father John’s. 

Father John’s didn’t just resemble a church, it was a church, and if we weren’t specifically looking for this brewery, it would have never crossed our minds that this was more than what it looked like.  It looked so much like a church that we were hesitant to go in because we thought we were at the wrong location.

Father John's Brewing BarAfter double-checking the address, we cautiously opened the door, and still unsure, made our way down the stairs, feeling like intruders. Until we walked through the main door that leads into the brewery itself. Both dark and foreboding and warm and welcoming at the same time, this brewery is definitely top of the list for ambiance. 

History in the Making

Its owner is not only a lover of old buildings (this one was originally built as a church in the late 1800’s), but also a collector of relics which is evidenced around every corner of the eclectic brewery. You are greeted by prayer flags, a variety of statues, gold and silver trinkets galore, and friendly bartenders.

Sitting at the bar, you are pleasantly overwhelmed with all the historic memorabilia including thick, long, Renaissance style tables complete with full on candelabras, swords, heavy wooden chairs, church pews, and even beer in a skull,

Father John's Brewing Bartender Father John's Brewing BeerWait! What?!  Yes, I stated that correctly, beer in a skull, but only if you are on the guest list. And making connections with a local couple there, we made it to the list.  While sitting at the bar, gawking at our surroundings, trying to make a decision on some beer, we started a conversation with a couple across from us, talking about our RV journey and our love for beer.  Like love at first sight, we hit it off, and ended up talking and drinking the night away.

In true RV style, our location schedule was nonexistent, so we decided to stay another night.  That decision was made when our new friends asked us if we liked drinking beer from a skull, and we could stay in their driveway the next night. Done! The beer is good, but it is always about the people.

Beers, Skulls, and New Friends

Father John's Brewing April and SkullAs were were entering the brewery the next night, filled with anticipation about this cool way to introduce a new beer, we were reflecting on how quickly strangers can become friends if only we let them. Warmed with this thought and the summer evening air, we followed about 15 other people into a dungeon-like room, complete with a long knight-like table, candles, and the proper eeriness to drink from a skull.

Kraemer, one of the coolest guys we have ever met, and a well-known fixture at Father John’s, nonchalantly poured the fresh batch of a blend of a Dark Belgian and Imperial Stout into the skull (fake, by the way), offered it first to the heavens (just kidding), and passed it around for everyone to take a sip.  Can drinking beer get any cooler than this?  Once the ritual was complete, the brewer walked in with tulip glasses of this delectable sipper for everyone.

Father John's Brewing KraemerBut the night was not done yet.  As beautiful as the inside of brewery was with its dark decor, the beer garden was even more so, complete with hops growing on vines, a variety of artful benches, tables, and seating areas, enough to please any beer drinker on a gorgeous summer evening.  And with the original and soul-searching sounds of a very talented local musician, Ryan Roth, keeping us company, the conversations, drinking, and laughter continued late into the night.

So, while you may not be invited to the exclusive “drink beer from a skull” club, it is still worth your time to make the trip to Bryan, Ohio. With beer names such as Holy Diver, St. Michael’s Pale Ale, and Sacrificial Goat, and a variety of Porters, Reds, IPA’s, and Stouts, you just can’t go wrong here. Oh, and the beer is good. So good that you might think you died and went to heaven.  Get it?

Father John's Brewing Hops and Beer GardenFather John's Brewing SanctuaryFather John’s also offers a delectable food menu, great craft beer, amazing people both on staff and as regular customers, cozy decor both inside and out, and an actual active congregation and sanctuary to forgive all of your sins, this place is not just a brewery, it is a must attend destination.

To check out previous Stout Life Approved stories, click here.

Enjoy this short clip of Ryan playing at Father John’s. He’s good!

To follow Ryan, click here.


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Mike and Julie
Mike and Julie
5 years ago

Great article on Father Johns! You described it perfectly! Can’t wait for you to return and join us regulars at the bar!

Ken Pishna
5 years ago
Reply to  Mike and Julie

I can tell you right now if we lived statically anywhere near Bryan, we would be regulars right alongside you. As it is, you guys and Kraemer made us feel like we already were regulars. Our time with you and at Father John’s is something with which we have regaled many people that we’ve met along the way and our friends and family back home. … And there’s more to the story to come on the site. – Ken