The beautiful mountain community of Snowshoe WV was recently enhanced with the opening of Old Spruce Brewing – the very first Snowshoe WV Brewery! . The mastermind behind this new craft brewery is Lawrence Walkup, who had purchased six acres of land a couple of miles north with an eye towards opening this brewery.
It’s clear that all of the money and hard work that went into this venture has been well worth it. The brewery is one of West Virginia’s largest brewpubs with a capacity of 300. Patrons can be spread out amongst 10,000 square feet on two floors in addition to an impressive variety of patios, porches and decks.
It’s also artistically designed with wood and metal in a rustic manner. Several of its tables have been made from wooden cable spools while there’s also a beautiful communal table that was made from wormy chestnut. In addition, an impressive metal logo sign welcomes visitors to the brewery.
It has been a challenge to get to this point, however. For one thing, nearly everything costs more in this remote location. This includes supplies, increased transportation costs to transport those supplies, significant distances in many cases, and paying extra for skilled labor, which isn’t generally nearby either.
However, one factor that Walkup took advantage of was his experience in the Snowshoe area as he’s been a part of this community since 2006 and has operated Old Spruce Tavern for the past nine years. As a result, he knew what to expect as it relates to these challenges of being in the mountains and how to overcome them.
He was also helped by nearby brewing peers who had outgrown equipment that ultimately proved perfect for him. These pieces of equipment included a glycol chiller, grain mill and keg washer. Additionally, the financial ups and downs of a brewery in this type of seasonal destination will be no surprise to Walkup.
Those visiting the new Snowshoe WV brewery can expect a carefully selected variety of Old Spruce beer on the main floor while your choices will be more varied on the second floor; that’s where a whiskey bar is situated. Visitors also regularly take advantage of Old Spruce’s food offerings, which include tacos, sliders and appetizers.
In fact, April H. recently left a review for Old Spruce on Yelp that stated, “Also, really really good food. The brisket nachos were a true delight and the tacos were great.” That was in addition to her comments about Old Spruce’s “delicious brews,” which were “SOLID.”
Meanwhile, those who want to play games like corn hole, foosball and bocci ball can do so in a back area of the second floor. During warmer weather, plenty of seating is available outdoors as well. Additionally, Old Spruce regularly offers live music in its outdoor beer garden at this time of the year.
In fact, Walkup has also dedicated himself to help Snowshoe became a solid summer destination in addition to its already famous reputation as a winter mecca. Snowshoe being that summer destination too has become more and more apparent over the past several years as increasing numbers of people make their way here then.
For example, the International Mountain Bicycling Association recently designated the area as one of the nation’s best for mountain bikers. Additionally, festivals and sports events are generally held in Snowshoe every summer weekend. Walkup knows that hikers, bikers, golfers, skiers and festival lovers are demographically similar to craft beer lovers and plans to capitalize on that.
Walkup is also hoping that his Snowshoe WV brewery will attract some to the area who might not have otherwise come. Additionally, he knows that many of those from large metropolitan areas such as Washington are used to spending time in breweries in their local regions and wants to recreate that type of atmosphere at Old Spruce.
As far as the beer goes, Walkup is planning to offer five year-round and two on a seasonal basis. The primary reason for limiting this number is because he wants to ensure that he only offers high-quality brews. He’ll likely add more in the future, but that will only occur after careful consideration.
As an experienced brewer, he knows what’s good, he knows what his patrons will like, and, most importantly, he knows what he’s looking for. To help him with this brewing, experimenting and selection process, he hired Chris Eure, who has plenty of knowledge himself.
The five brews that he has made available throughout the year are a Red IPA, Hazy IPA, Blonde Ale, Porter and ESB. He’s expecting a Scottish Ale and a spruce tip beer that will include spruce tips that were cut on nearby Snowshoe Mountain to be his seasonal selections. Eure in particular is expecting to experiment with these IPA recipes to find tasty new blends.
Walkup added that he doesn’t plan to distribute any of his brews, so those who want to enjoy what he has on offer will need to come to Snowshoe to purchase his wares at either this brewery or at his nearby tavern. Those who do arrive, ready to try some of these brews, will be able to do so in growlers, flights and pints.
The Snowshoe WV brewery equipment itself takes up nearly two-thirds of the 4,000 square feet on the building’s main floor. Its focus is a five-barrel brew-house, which has the potential to produce double-batch brew days. The steam that’s necessary to complete the brewing process is produced by a boiler in a nearby room. After the brewing is completed, kegs are being kept in a cold room. Beers will not be canned or bottled.
Old Spruce Brewing opens every Thursday and Friday at 4 p.m. and every Saturday and Sunday at noon while it closes at 10 p.m. on each of those four days. Its telephone number is 304.572.0391 while those at Old Spruce can also be reached via its Facebook page. One of its recent posts there excitedly stated that “our first few months open have been beyond anything we could have hoped for.”