Here is a round-up of WV brewery news from a variety of sources.
Big Timber Brewing Company
Brewery construction on schedule
Construction at the new brewery in Elkins is coming along on schedule. The installation of new windows and the underground utilities was recently completed. The big glycol chiller has arrived and is being installed. A late April opening is likely.
When the new production brewery opens, it will not have an on-site tasting room. Big Timber will keep is current tasting room open for selling its beer. Down the road, a new tasting facility and outdoor space will be built at the new brewery site. It will include a beer garden along the Tygart River that looks like it could be wonderful.
Excelling at marketing
A good example of the beer community service this brewery performs was the brewing and release of Appalachian Brew Club’s contest-winning beer. Winner Scott Biola’s Robber Baron Rye IPA is being served this month in the Big Timber tasting room. Soon, the brewery will produce another contest winning beer, the White Elephant IPA, which will be sold as Pies & Pints house beer in their Morgantown and Charleston strores.
Big Timber, which is West Virginia’s most promotion-savvy brewery, can be counted on to be the first brewery people call when they need some help with ideas for a beer event or bar promotion. Co-owner Sam Mauzy, who heads sales and marketing, is augmented by a team of talented ambassadors who all know their beer.
Whether it is Sam Mauzy, Ashley Kwasniewski (co-owner & wife of brewer Matt Kwasniewski), Erin Young, or occasionally Amber Kwasniewski (also the label designer and Matt’s sister), you can count on Big Timber’s representatives to be some of the most professional you’ll find at any beer event. They understand the importance of promotion and do a good job at it.
Also on the marketing front, be looking for new label graphics on Big Timber’s 16-oz cans. The brewery wants the cans to stand out and be more instantly recognizable on retailer shelves.
Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company
Small batches build variety
You might find a small batch of just about any beer stye imaginable on tap at Greenbrier Valley Brewing’s taproom in Maxwelton. GVBC uses its pilot brewing system to try out new beer recipes and see what people like. The beers are served exclusively at GVBC’s tasting room, and eventually, some of them may turn up as brewery seasonal releases.
These beers are all brewed on a half-barrel Sabco pilot system that produces 10 gallon batches (two sixtels). That means these are very limited quantity brews that turn over quickly. Some recent small batches were a Chocolate Cherry Cordial Porter (for Valentine’s Day), an English-style Old Strong Ale, a single-hopped Citra Pale Ale, and a Black Lager.
Maggie Hower does a lot of the small-batch brewing for GVBC’s tasting room, even though her primary job at the brewery is Canning Manager.
Though pretty new to brewing, Hower really enjoys making beers in a wide range of styles.
“I’ve always liked beer,” Maggie told us.
She said she was “the beer girl” at the bar where she worked in Morgantown while attending college. She has always loved researching beers and trying new brands.
“I won’t pour beer out,” she insists. “It’s a big no-no.”
When asked how she went from beer server to canning manager and small-batch brewer, she replied, “I just got lucky.”
“They needed somebody (at the brewery) and I’m from Lewisburg. So I was there over the summer working at the brewery part-time. And then they ended up needing somebody full-time.
“I love it, all the time, even though I mostly just do just a bunch of cleaning. That’s mostly what brewers are — they’re kind of like janitors.”
All joking aside, it’s nice to see younger folks being given the opportunity to develop their brewing skills at WV breweries. Hower is also one of the few females brewing commercially in the state.
Berkeley Springs Brewing Company
Karl Wagenbrenner, owner/brewer at Berkeley Springs Brewing Company, was a late addition to the recent Cabin Fever Craft Beer Fest. His brand new Morgantown distributor knew about the festival and suggested he get involved. It’s a good thing he did, because the festival proved to be a fantastic sampling opportunity with over 1,000 area beer fans.
It was Berkeley Springs Brewing Company’s first promotional venture in the Morgantown area since signing with Jo’s Globe Distributing.
“We’re excited to be in Morgantown” he said. “This is our first time with Jo’s Globe, and we’re hoping to be able to expand out here into more of the western part of the state.”
Wagenbrenner brought one of the more robust group of offerings to the festival. His six beers included Vienna Calling, Mountain Man Martzen, Hellish Winter IPA, Old Oak Stout, Lover’s Leap IPA, Warm Springs Pale Ale. This selection mixed some of his more popular standard brews (Vienna Calling, Lover’s Leap IPA) with his newer seasonal stuff (Old Oak Stout, Hellish Winter IPA).
New brewing system brings positive changes
Last summer Wagenbrenner installed a new and much larger brewing system that is allowing him to expand his distribution footprint.
Asked how his new brewing system changed things, he answered quickly.
“It changed things immensely,” he said emphatically. “The beers are much better. I can push beer a lot faster.
“Trouble is right now, we are kind of bottle-necked with a keg shortage. We don’t have enough kegs. We’re working on remedying that problem and hope to come on real strong this spring.”
This week at his Bath Water Brewpub, Karl is holding a craft beer and food pairing event in honor of the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting competition. He believes that the local spring water he uses for brewing is one thing that makes his beer stand out.
“It makes excellent beer,” he said.