To call him a hop-head is putting it mildly. The owner of this upcoming brewery likes his hops big, up-front, and juicy.
“We’re hop-centric,” said Jonathan Robeson when concisely defining the DNA of his Stumptown Ales brewery project in Davis, West Virginia.
Like owner, like brewery, the old saying goes.
While the date is a bit fluid, Robeson hopes to have the new brewery fully licensed and open for business the first of August.
Stumptown expands Tucker County’s beer universe
While other breweries in the Tucker County area feature nice, easy drinking styles (Mountain State’s popular blond, amber, pale ale, and oatmeal stout; and Blackwater’s excellent European-style session ales), Robeson’s brews are more likely to be in your face, as well as in your glass.
Just a sampling of the working names for his beers should give you a clue: Mrs. Hippie Session IPA, Cave Dweller Pale Ale, Bewildered Hippie IPA, Big Boy Pants Double IPA, Holy Citra! Double IPA, and Multiple Hopgasms Triple IPA. We’ve never seen anything quite like this in West Virginia.
Can you imagine walking in and finding all of these on tap the same day. Probably won’t happen, but a guy can dream.
While I’m not always a fan of the big imperial styles of IPA, I found Stumptown’s Triple IPA to be an exception. The hopping was luscious, chewy, and substantial. The malt clean and silky. The 10% a.b.v. well hidden. I trust the final production version of this beer will be just as good.
Still lots of wood around Stumptown
You see Stumptown is an old nickame for the town of Davis from back in its timbering days. They said you could walk across the area, stepping from stump to stump, without ever putting your foot on the ground.
While outdoor recreation has taken precedence over timbering these days, you will find some beautiful examples of woodwork in Stumptown’s tasting room. The impressive bar is made from a 21-foot solid red oak log. Tables are crosscut slices of logs, as are the backboards for the brewery taps.
You don’t have to be a lumberjack to appreciate the warm ambiance the woodwork imparts to the room. With a fireplace at one end, just picture yourself sitting there cozying up this winter with your Big Boy Pants in your hand. Oh my.
Not fond of hops, try the Blond
For those not so into hops, Robeson promises to keep a couple of milder beers around, including his Easy Blond Ale and the I Barely Knew Her Porter or a Stout. But of the six beers on tap, expect half or more to be of the signature hoppy variety. The tap selections will rotate through the styles and seasons and, now and then, may include a guest tap from another West Virginia brewery.
As much as possible, Stumptown will attempt to include local ingredients in its brews. They developed a recipe for Cranky Conifer Ale that includes local spruce tips. As the brewery develops, look for more beers flavored with ingredients foraged from the local mountain forests and farms.
“We want to start small and stay local,” Robeson said, recalling that some of his favorite breweries are Vermont’s Hill Farmstead and Lawson’s Finest Liquids.
Jon and his wife Cindy have been in Davis since 2003. They moved there to purchase the Meyer House bed & breakfast inn, which they continue to operate. (I stayed at the inn and found a comfortable room and a most awesome breakfast.) When not working on his brewery, you can find Jon donning his lawyer hat and doing real estate closings in West Virginia and Maryland.
At the brewery, Robeson pulled in Jeff Melnick to assist him with the brewing. Melnick has been a fast learner, mastering the operation of the Sabco Brew Magic system that will supply the brewery taps. Melnick even developed his own hop infuser apparatus he named Jeff’s Hopitizermjiggy. You can see he fits right in.
Stumptown will feature a limited restaurant at first. You’ll likely find items such as pulled pork sandwiches, chili, and popcorn. Down the road, they hope to do theme nights featuring local food products. The taproom will seat 35 people.
Davis takes the lead in brewing
So what’s up with the town of Davis? It has only 660 people but will soon be home to its second craft brewery. If you go three miles down the road to Thomas (pop. 586), you have another brewery. It is definitely the most brewery saturated locale in the state. As for breweries per capita, it may lead the nation.
To be fair, the area’s population swells, especially on weekends, with visitors. Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley state parks are big tourist draws. Trail hikers, mountain bikers, downhill and cross-country skiers, hunters, fishermen/women, leaf peepers, backpackers, and kayakers make up the majority of guests. Lots of others come simply for relaxation and the fresh mountain air. They keep the local restaurants and bars humming for at least 10 months out of the year.
A new expressway across the mountains is better connecting the area to Northern Virginia and DC. The expressway’s Davis exit should be completed this fall.
“I have a lot of confidence in the future of this area,” Robeson says.
Stumptown Ales will likely find a warm welcome and will certainly fill out the dance card of local brewery offerings. It should complement both Blackwater and Mountain State breweries by offering a different twist to its beers.
Locals and visitors alike, you’re a lucky bunch.