Nominees announced for West Virginia’s Best New Brewery 2017

Each year for the past few years, West Virginia has been blessed with a good crop of new breweries. Of the new ones that came online in 2017, we found three of them unusually good right out of the gate and doing so many things right. Those three are Brilliant Stream’s nominees for West Virginia’s Best New Brewery 2017. 

Abolitionist Ale Works of Charles Town, Short Story Brewing of Rivesville, and Weathered Ground Brewery of Cool Ridge are nominated due to their exceptional performance as new breweries. The families involved in each of these breweries are so impressive. They each demonstrate a strong commitment to their regions and to West Virginia. And we think each has a really cool, creative brewery name. If this is the future of brewing in West Virginia, then you want to stay here and enjoy it.

After a bit of further consideration, the winning brewery will be announced on December 20.

There is so much to like about each of the nominees for Best New Brewery 2017. Listed below are some of the main things Brilliant Stream and others loved about each.

Abolitionist Ale Works 

  • Attractive taproom with a classic pub vibe
  • Well-made beers across the line
  • Exceptional brews: West  Funkin’ Virginia Wild Ale, Dirty Beard Imperial Stout, Blue and Golden Delicious Saison & creative, innovative barrel-aged sours
  • Taproom faves: Alpha Mayle IPA & Hoppy Retreat Session IPA
  • Made first bottle release: Gin & Juice
  • Very good use of social media
  • Very good brewery website
  • Current tap list kept online
  • Hosted scores of in-brewery events since opening in June
  • Live music in taproom on weekends
  • Super renovation of a historic structure for brewery & taproom
  • Nice variety of merchandise from hoodies to tap handles
  • A 2 BR apartment upstairs over brewery for nightly rental through Airbnb
  • 2,000+ entries on Untappd with a solid 3.66 overall rating

Short Story Brewing 

  • Really cool taproom design and decor
  • Well-made beers across the line
  • Exceptional brews: Woke Up Like This Imperial Stout & Working Title Imperial IPA
  • Taproom faves: Ready, Steady Go! Pale Ale, Argonaut Helles Lager & My Friends Call Me Red Ale
  • This Road Travelled Saison collaboration with Weathered Ground
  • Excellent use of social media
  • Very good brewery web site
  • Current tap list online
  • Participates in many bar events, tap takeovers
  • Regularly self-distributes across their region
  • Great refurb of a commercial structure for their brewery/taproom
  • Features local music in taproom on weekends
  • Good looking variety of branded merchandise for sale
  • Member of WV Craft Brewers Guild
  • 1,900+ entries on Untappd with a very good 3.75 rating overall

Weathered Ground BreweryWGB logo

  • Beautiful brewery taproom building and grounds.
  • Very solid line-up of beers overall
  • Exceptional brews: Barrel-aged Burley Barleywine, More Haggard Than Haggard Double IPA, & Struggle Street Imperial Stout
  • Taproom faves: Cool Ridge Lager & Enniskillen Dry Irish Stout
  • This Road Travelled Saison collaboration with Short Story
  • Excellent use of social media
  • Very good brewery website
  • Current tap list online
  • Beer location guide on website
  • Local bands in taproom on weekends
  • Two true collaborations in first 4 months (w/ Short Story and Triple C)
  • Self-distributes across southern WV, Beckley, Charleston, Huntington
  • Active in bar promotions, tap takeovers
  • Nice bunch of branded merchandise at brewery
  • Member of WV Craft Brewers Guild
  • 2,100+ ratings on Untappd with an excellent 3.86 overall rating

Impressions of the new WV beer market

Who would have thought we would have three such exceptional new breweries open in the same year. Choosing one for New Brewery of the Year is not easy. It’s interesting to hear how the owners thought about entering the brewery business in West Virginia. When asked to sum up their overall impressions of opening a brewery in West Virginia, you get very thoughtful answers. For instance:

Aaron Rote, Short Story Brewing — My main impression is that the level of enthusiasm for craft beer in this state is far greater than some people, including us, ever realized. We went into this business expecting that we’d be supported by the community of people who love to drink craft beer, but you can never really know exactly how far you can reach beyond that community until you open the doors. We have a lot of people who come in that have never tried a craft beer, but they’re totally game to try something new. There is still a lot of open minds about craft beer in the state, and that means plenty of room for growth.

My other impression is that everyone connected to this industry is really friendly and helpful. From other brewers to bar and restaurant owners to local farmers, we’ve met so many cool people who have given us such great advice and have supported us during these early months.

Sam & Aryn Fonda, Weathered Ground Brewery — Our overall impression of opening a brewery in West Virginia has been that there is no better place to enjoy a good beer. We love sipping on one of ours or another WV beer while watching the sunset in Cool Ridge. You cannot beat the scenery. We also love our clientele and we just feel like this brewery was meant to be in West Virginia. Also, the competition is there. There is a lot of great beer being made in the state and that is a good thing. It elevates everyone’s game. 

Josh Vance, Abolitionist Ale Works  — I heard lots of stories good and bad about opening a brewery in the state and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth the process was for us.  Since we applied while we were still renovating the space, and we timed it out right, the wait didn’t hurt us as a business. From a market and community point of view, we could not be more happy with the support we have received as a new brewery. 

Watch for the announcement of the winning brewery on Wednesday, December 20.

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