(Register-Herald (Beckley, WV) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 22--Billed as "West Virginia's wildly wonderful craft brewery," the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Co. is ready to put its product where its mouth is, with production of a pair of flagship beers set to start within the next few weeks.
Located in a $1.3 million, 13,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in the Greenbrier Valley Airport Industrial Park just north of Lewisburg, the brewery grew out of a chance encounter a little over two years ago between two beer enthusiasts.
Wil Laska and David Kucera struck up a conversation over some of the craft beers served at Lewisburg's Irish Pub. During the discussion of the merits of the various brews before them, Laska picked up on Kucera's enthusiasm and told of his own longtime dream of opening a brewery, a notion hatched when he retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994.
By coincidence, Kucera revealed that he harbored hopes of opening a nano brewery, and the two men agreed to team up in a business venture that evolved into the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Co. (GVBC).
"We started this whole process two years ago, but we discovered that starting a business takes a long time," Laska says. "We had to formulate a business plan and work out the finances. There was a lot of paperwork and dealing with bureaucracy. It takes a long time to get through it all."
The Maxwelton facility will begin production as a package brewery, not a brew pub, Laska explains. Bottles, cans and kegs of beer for off-premises consumption will comprise the brewery's products for now, but Laska envisions a future that includes a tasting room adjacent to the production area.
The brewing process takes two weeks from start to finish for each batch, with water, malt, yeast and hops slowly combining characteristics in huge fermentation tanks that dominate the brewery.
Although only those four ingredients go into each beer, adjusting the proportions, timing and methods of brewing can result in quite complex flavors, Laska notes.
Properly manipulating the brewing process and proportions requires expertise acquired through experience, however, and that's one of GVBC's strengths, according to Laska.
Pointing to brewmeister Brian Reymiller, Laska says, "Brian's an artist."
With more than 17 years of experience in brewing beer professionally, Reymiller brings a deft hand and finely tuned instincts to the GVBC. He began his career with Hops Bar and Brewery, eventually moving up to the position of head brewer at Falls City Brewing Company. Along the way, he gained experience in brewing various styles of beers at multiple production levels.
"We're using technology here (at GVBC) that was not available previously to craft brewers," Reymiller says, using as an example the advanced mash filters that the big brewers use. "That's the most exciting thing for me."
The first two beers that will be put into production at GVBC are Mothman IPA (Indian Pale Ale) and Wild Trail Pale Ale.
Laska describes Mothman, a black IPA, as "a really hoppy beer," while the Wild Trail is an American pale ale. The company's promotional material further details Mothman's flavors as hinting at grapefruit, mango and peach, thanks to the use of the choicest Pacific Northwest hops.
The colorful names didn't happen by accident. Laska says, "We sought a West Virginia connection for each name. We want to keep everything as West Virginia as possible."
Future plans call for the brewery to expand its line to include such products as Steel Drivin' Stout (an homage to John Henry), Patrick's Irish Red, Devilanse Ale and Flanders Red Ale, which will make use of bourbon barrels from Smooth Ambler Spirits, an award-winning distillery conveniently located just across the street from GVBC.
Distribution of the brewery's output is expected to blanket the entire state, according to Kucera.
"We also plan to expand to all bordering states eventually," he adds.
The company's longer-term plans also include a gradual expansion of the workforce, Laska says, expressing the hope that GVBC will employ 23 or 24 people at the five-year mark.
In the shorter term, GVBC needs to gain name recognition in order to build the brand loyalty its founders believe will surely follow the quality of the beer.
To that end, Crystal Bishop, the company's director of marketing and sales, has already signed GVBC up to participate in the Brew Skies Festival at Canaan Valley on July 25 and 26, Huntington's Rails and Ales event on Aug. 16 and the Mountaineer Brew Fest in Wheeling, also on Aug. 16.
And Laska optimistically predicts that 2015 will see a craft brew festival at the State Fairgrounds in Fairlea, just down the road from GVBC.
For more information about Greenbrier Valley Brewing Co., write the brewery at 862 Industrial Park Road, Suite A, Maxwelton WV 24957, or e-mail Bishop at Crystal@GVBEER.com.
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