Greenbrier Valley channels Cardinal for new Scottish Ale

Call it a new take on an old theme. Call it a collaboration between then and now. Call it recognition for those who paved the way. Whatever you call it, get ready for the tasty release of Cardinal Red Scottish Ale from Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company on January 22.

cardinal red

To create this new brew, GVBC’s brewer, Will Guðmundsson, worked with Sam Walker-Matthews, one of the original brewers at Cardinal Brewing, Inc. Cardinal Brewing operated in Charleston, WV, from 1993 until 1997.

For the past several months, Greenbrier Valley has been utilizing Walker-Matthews as a consultant on its overall brewery operations. The idea came to Sam that it would be fun to brew a beer in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the founding of Cardinal Brewing. Guðmundsson jumped on the idea because he thinks that it’s important to remember those breweries that paved the way for the current craft beer movement.

Cardinal Red Scottish Ale

This past fall, the two men got together and worked up a new recipe for a big Scottish-style ale. They brewed the beer on November 17.

Cardinal Red, the resulting deep mahogany-red colored ale, was produced using Scottish malts and yeast and hopped with the varieties traditional to the style: Kent Goldings and Fuggles. Cardinal Red comes in at 6.5% ABV.

The brewery reports the ale has a fresh floral hop aroma with earthy tones of malt in the nose. They say it presents a strong Scottish malt profile with mild notes of roasted malts and a balanced hops presence. The finish is slightly sweet with malted barley being the primary taste note. They suggest the beer be paired with “red meats and wild game, blue veined cheeses, and hearty breads slathered with butter.”

Expect a number of beer release events in the Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling, and Lewisburg markets. Check GVBC’s Facebook page for details.

Sharing knowledge and love of brewing

Cardinal Red
Sam Walker-Matthews, left, and Will Guðmundsson in the brewery. [GVBC photo]
In creating the beer, the 29-year-old Guðmundsson says he enjoyed working with the more senior-beer-statesman Walker-Matthews.

“It has been an honor working with Sam,” Guðmundsson said. “He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and an undying love for craft brewing. ”

Guðmundsson says he finds it exciting and humbling to be a part of the community of craft beer, “of which Cardinal Brewing was one of our state’s pioneers.”

Likewise, Walker-Matthews liked what he saw in Guðmundsson.

“Will is a talented brewer who is passionate about craft beer,” he said. “I respect his awareness to traditional styles while being able to see beyond the brewing horizon.”

What’s a 93 Shilling

GVBC put 93 Shilling on the beer’s label. GVBC’s use of 93 Shilling is an homage to 1993, the year Cardinal Brewing was formed. In traditional beer terms, “90 shilling” designated a Scottish Ale that was over 6.0% A.B.V. and originally sold for about 90 shillings a barrel. Today, we more commonly call this class of beer a Wee Heavy.

Cardinal Brewing, Inc.

Cardinal by Adam Patnoe
Beers brewed by Cardinal Brewing back in the 1990s. Photo by Adam Patnoe.

Founded by three local residents, Joe Spratt, Mark Saber, and Will Slicer, Cardinal Brewing pioneered microbrewing in Charleston. It produced both ales and lagers and was the first West Virginia brewery in the modern craft beer era to bottle its beer in addition to kegging it. Cardinal produced a lager they called Devil Anse, a name that Greenbrier Valley Brewing later adopted for its hoppy IPA. Beyond Devil Anse, Cardinal’s primary labels were Seneca Red and New River Ale. For a few years their beer was popular across West Virginia.

Following a number of difficulties, the brewery went out of business in 1997. It sold much of its brewing equipment to Parkersburg’s North End Tavern, which then was starting a brewery. Some of that equipment is still in regular use at the NET.


Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company
862 Industrial Park Rd.
Maxwelton, WV 24957
(304) 520-4669


Thanks to Lisa Stansell at GVBC for her help in providing some of the information and photos contained in this article.

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