Brewing is burning it up in Appalachia. And West Virginia, in the heart of the Appalachians, has a microbrewery and beer distributor of its very own too. Mountain State Brewery opened its doors in 2005 and now boasts three locations in Morgantown and Thomas, as well as a brewery and pub in Deep Creek, Maryland.
The business was the brainchild of stepbrothers Willie Lehmann and Brian Arnett. After experimenting with homebrews and Appalachian still hooch, the young men finally gathered up enough equipment and financing to open their own brewery and go “legal.” And they are all the rage with the locals.
“It’s fantastic; I love it,” says Kyle Greenleaf, an eighth-grade teacher at West Preston Middle School, who is a regular at the Morgantown location. “They have great food and it’s a really cool atmosphere.”
Mountain State Brewery touts five custom beers:
- Cold Trail Ale is an American blonde ale that includes a healthy heap of wheat and oats. It’s named after a popular activity in West Virginia — hare hunting. Local lore has it that while you’re hare hunting, you find lucky “hot tracks,” or unlucky “cold tracks” — tracks in the snow made by rabbits that passed through a few days earlier.
- Almost Heaven Amber Ale is light brown in color and lightly hopped with Willamette for a “heavenly” caramel finish. This brew is named after the John Denver tune Almost Heaven, which West Virginians quickly claimed as their own. The tap handle for the beer features the Mountain State Brewery logo, highlighting the peaks and summits of the Allegheny Highlands.
- Ramsey Rock Porter is a seasonal brew that’s rich in chocolate, fermented with an English pub yeast. The name is a nod to the nearby town of Ramsey at 1,526-foot elevation.
- Miner’s Daughter Oatmeal Stout is coal black and really smooth. The creamy brew holds a light tan head and is named after the hard-working immigrant coal miners who worked the West Virginia mines from the 1890s to the 1940s.
- Seneca Indian Pale Ale is a moderate body beer that is at first bitter, but doesn’t leave a bitter aftertaste. The name comes from the original settlers, the Seneca Indians, who roamed the Appalachian Hills in the 1700s.
And Mountain State Brewery is not just about beer. The founders proudly tout their wood-fired ovens as the reason they draw such a diverse and hungry crowd. Their meats are slow roasted in the wood fired ovens and can be purchased in various take-home sizes.
If you’re hungry, check out the following special menu items:
- Boar's Nest: “Overnight” pulled pork is topped with coleslaw and a tangy apple cider BBQ on a toasted brioche roll.
- Wild Boar: Pulled pork is piled with pickled jalapeño and sharp cheddar on a brioche bun with their spicy chipotle BBQ sauce.
- Apple Butter Pulled Chicken: Wood-fired pulled chicken and pickled apples are combined with sweet apple butter BBQ on a brioche bun.
You’ll also find a complete menu of signature sandwiches as well as a slew of toppings to go on the wood-fired pizzas that just naturally complement the brews. Make a night of it. It’s easy, since there’s live music most every night of the week.
Photos: mountainstatebrewing.com, halfpricemorgantown.com