Charlottetown brothers open 'holy' brewery in old New Brunswick church

Brothers Peter and Jeff Grandy are converting an old church, in a tiny New Brunswick village, into a café and brewery.

Peter and Jeff Grandy open brewery and café in former United church near Fundy National Park

Peter and Jeff Grandy are working on their dream project: the Holy Whale Brewery in Alma, N.B. (Peter Grandy)

Never before have beer and church gone so well together, according to Peter Grandy. 

Grandy and his brother Jeff are converting an old church into the Holy Whale Brewery, a café and brewery in the picturesque village of Alma, New Brunswick.

"We've always wanted to start our own business. It's been a dream forever really. We've been brewing for at least 10 years. We're just really passionate about beer."
The former St. Stephen's United Church will soon be home to the new brewery and café. (Peter Grandy)

Jeff recently went to Olds College in Alberta to become a brewmaster, while Peter is a mechanical engineer. Both are putting their skills to good use in their dream project.

Located in the decommissioned St. Stephen's United Church, Grandy said the business takes it name from its unique location in a church and because the Fundy coast is known for its whale sightings. 

The brothers scouted out locations across the Maritimes, but found Charlottetown and Moncton were too expensive. That's when they turned to Alma, one of their favourite places since childhood, nestled beside Fundy National Park. 
"We're just really passionate about beer," said Jeff Grandy. (Peter Grandy)

Jeff said the church suited their needs and can easily accommodate brew tanks inside its spacious interior without knocking out any floors. 

"We looked into the logistics of doing it and it was almost too good to be true," he said. 

Once they see the finished project they'll be pretty pleased with it, because we really are trying to maintain the character of the church.- Jeff Grandy

The old church has a deep connection to the community. It was rebuilt in 1932 after a fire and the names of those who donated money to resurrect the building from the ashes are etched in the stained glass windows.

There's lot of interest from locals in the project, said Jeff.

"There have been a lot of heads poking in the door, pretty much constantly actually. Some are excited, some are a little apprehensive, but once they see the finished project they'll be pretty pleased with it, because we really are trying to maintain the character of the church ... a lot of them are pretty happy that we're doing something with it, as opposed to it just kind of sitting there rotting," he said.
The Grandy brothers plan to sell Maritime craft beer and plan to brew their own, eventually. (Peter Grandy)

The brothers are restoring the old pews for seating and they're also keeping the church bell to signal happy hour, and they're working on a plan to keep the church organ, as well. 

The stained glass windows will remain and have become part of the logo for the brewery, a whale in a stained glass window.

Jeff Grandy said he expects the café to be open by the end of the summer, offering up brews from around the Maritimes. 

The brothers plan to start construction on their own brewery this fall, with the goal to of serving their own suds early next year.