From pastor to brewmaster, man brings brewery to North Side

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CHICAGO — It takes a lot of faith to change paths from pastor to brewmaster.

For years, Pastor Brent Raska stood at the head of the altar at First Presbyterian Church of North Riverside.

He and his wife, a pastor in Wilmette, both graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Blessed with two children and congregations they loved, they started a little side hobby at home.

"Brewing was just a passion of mine. It was a lot of fun," Raska said.

Turns out, he was pretty good at it too, with friends encouraging him to put it on shelves.

But it wasn't until Raska's church was forced to close its doors that he considered a change.

"It just seemed like the timing was right to jump in and go for the brewery,” he said.

It was the beginning of what is now the first Chicago taproom with a name inspired by a bible passage, Burning Bush Brewery. Once open it will be located at 4014 N. Rockwell Street

Instead of water into wine, Raska's mission is to turn yeast into six of the best house beers on tap by opening day.

"This just combines everything together,” he said. “Fellowship, community involvement and a lot of great conversations over beer.”

A welcoming community taproom with perhaps the closest thing to blessed spirits in town.

Raska hopes to open this winter.

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