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Snowshoe’s Best Brewery

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The beautiful mountain community of Snowshoe, W.Va., was recently enhanced with the opening of Old Spruce Brewing. The mastermind behind this new craft brewery is Lawrence Walkup, who had purchased six acres of land a couple of miles north of downtown five years ago, intending to open this brewery. 

 This venture’s money and hard work have been well worth it. The brewery is one of West Virginia’s largest brewpubs, with a capacity of 300. These people 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 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 – including supplies, increased transportation costs to transport those supplies, significant distances in many cases, and paying extra for skilled labor, which isn’t generally nearby. 

 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. He knew what to expect regarding the challenge of being in the mountains and how to overcome them.

 He was helped by nearby brewing peers who had outgrown equipment that proved perfect for him. This equipment included a glycol chiller, grain mill, and keg washer. Additionally, a brewery’s financial ups and downs in this type of seasonal destination will be no surprise to Walkup. 

 Those visiting 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. 

 April H. recently left a review for Old Spruce on Yelp that stated, “Also, really, really good food. The brisket nachos were a 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 the 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.

 Walkup has also dedicated himself to helping Snowshoe become 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 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 his brewery will attract some to the area who might not otherwise have come. Additionally, he knows that many of those from large metropolitan areas such as Washington prefer to spend time in breweries in their local regions. He 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 that he wants to ensure that he only provides 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, what his patrons will like, and, most importantly, what he’s looking for. To help him with this brewing, experimenting, and selection process, he hired Chris Eure, who has plenty of knowledge.

 He has made five brews available throughout the year: 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 this brewery or 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 brewery equipment takes up nearly two-thirds of the 4,000 square feet on the building’s main floor. Its focus is a five-barrel brewhouse, which has the potential to produce double-batch brew days. A boiler makes the steam necessary to complete the brewing process in a nearby room. After the brewing is completed, kegs are 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 excitedly stated that “our first few months open have been beyond anything we could have hoped for.”

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