Jim Justice¹ isn’t the only guy in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, supercharging the local economy. Enter Wil Laska, whose Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company (GVBC) began distribution this week as the state’s 11th licensed brewery.
Laska and company invested over $1.3 million to build the state’s largest capacity brewery to date. A 20-barrel brewhouse and over 100 barrels of fermentation space (with room for much more) give GVBC the capacity to become a serious player, not only in West Virginia, but also a chance to enter the much bigger Virginia and DC beer markets.
David Kucera, GVBC co-founder, general manager, and long time homebrewer, guided the overall buildout of the facility as well as the development of the branding and marketing plans. One of the more challenging parts of his responsibilities was signing up a network of distributors, but with that feat accomplished, GVBC draft is hitting on-premise accounts around the state this week.
Easily the state’s most impressive facility, the 13,000-square-foot brewery is a beautifully put together sculpture of stainless steel tanks and piping. The installation includes a boiler to produce the steam required for mashing and boiling, a glycol chiller to cool the wort after boiling and to control the fermentation temperatures, and a grain mill and grain storage unit.
Their set up also includes an impressive and somewhat uncommon mash filter device instead of a lauter tun. After completing the mashing phase, the thick oatmeal like mash of grain and water is pumped through the filter unit. The mash filter separates the brewing liquid (wort) from the solids (spent grain). The wort flows directly into the brew kettle, while the spent grain is given to a local farmer for use as livestock feed.
Located at Maxwelton in the airport industrial park, the brewery was built just across the road from Smooth Ambler Distillery—a location that should benefit both from a tourism perspective.
Laska and Kucera made a good move bringing in veteran brewer Brian Reymiller, whose resumè includes a stop at Victory Brewing Company, one of my personal favorites. Once he gets this pristine new brewing system totally dialed in, I bet we’ll see some wonderful creations from him.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with Laska, Kucera, and Reymiller together at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver last April, and you couldn’t ask for three nicer guys. Their enthusiasm was infectious. I’m definitely pulling for them to make it big.
GVBC begins operation with two beers, available in draft only. Soon, they will utilize a mobile canning line to produce six packs for distribution to off-premise retail. Bottles will also follow.
Over the coming months they will add a couple more full-time beers, then add seasonals and a special high-octane project they have named The Bunker Series after the now well-known congressional Cold War hideout at The Greenbrier resort.
The first two full-time beers along with their brewery descriptions are:
Wild Trail Pale Ale is a golden amber ale featuring hops from the Pacific Northwest. The robust hops are balanced by a blend of British floor malted barley and American 2-row. At a moderate 5.3 abv and 43 IBU’s, this is a flavorful, sessionable American Pale Ale enjoyed at home or after a hike on one of West Virginia’s Wild Trails
Mothman Black IPA is a hop forward brew with flavors of grapefruit, mango, & peach from the use of the Pacific Northwest hops. The hops are balanced by German 2-row and English crystal malts. At 6.5 abv and 65 IBU’s this ale promises to satisfy any hop head.
The brewery equipment at night is still a beautiful sculpture.
¹ Jim Justice is the amazing billionaire who bought the languishing Greenbrier Resort a few years ago and invested untold millions, to not only restore it to prominence, but also to take it to new heights. His successes include adding a PGA tour event and the summer training camp for the New Orleans Saints. Now he is building a tennis showcase for the likes of McEnroe, Sampras, and Roddick.