In West Virginia, breweries are finding plenty of places to grow and Pocahontas County most recently made the list. Thanks to Lawrence Walkup and his stellar team, Snowshoe Mountain’s craft beer scene is attracting skier and snowboarders from all walks of life to escape the cold and enjoy good company. Old Spruce Brewing and Old Spruce Draft House have been in the works for quite some time and you may have seen its owner, Walkup, at his Tavern. Both the brewery and craft house are located on top of the mountain and offer patrons with a large variety of craft brews, live music, and/or good eats. They also welcome guests with an atmosphere that lets you know it’s a local spot.
Walkup originally came to Snowshoe as Food and Beverage Director 15 years ago and in 2010 he opened Old Spruce Tavern, which is located in the center of the village, beside Starbucks. Walkup has been a fan of craft beer for a long time. He tells us when he opened his tavern it was a challenge to acquire any craft beers and almost no West Virginia craft beers were available because of state regulations. His tavern’s main focus was to always carry the largest selection of craft beers in the region and this spawned the idea for the Old Spruce Draft House. In early 2017, Lawrence obtained a lease and opened the draft house across the village, located in front of the Junction and just 50 feet from the slopes.
The draft house sells craft beer brewed in West Virginia featuring various breweries throughout the state including Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company, Big Timber Brewing, Bridge Brew Works, and Stumptown Ales. Lawrence goes onto say the natural progression fell into place and plans began to create a brewery. He was able to acquire 6 acres of land between Snowshoe Village and Silver Creek Resorts. Regarding the facility’s design and layout, Lawrence tells us, “The initial plan was a 3,000 square foot building housing a production facility and a small tasting room. This concept changed pretty quick by adding wine, food options, a whiskey bar, and a play area, 3,000 square feet became 8,000 square foot indoors with an additional 2,000 square foot of deck and patio space.”
Old Spruce Brewery makes 5 year-round beers and seasonal offerings. The standard brews include: Blonde, ESB, Hazy IPA, Red IPA, Porter. Right now in the fermenter they have a Christmas ESB! They have also brewed test batches of Coffee Milk Stout and Scotch Ale that will both be produced on a larger scale. Behind the scenes are Christopher Eure, lead brewer, and Nic Ransom, assistant brewer. These two are in complete control of the brewing aspect.
The craft brewing industry in the mountain state has ample room for growth. Lawrence says, “West Virginia is ranked at the bottom for the number of craft breweries throughout the country so there was not a lot of attention going to the industry to start. We have some great breweries just not a lot of them. We have less than 30 while North Carolina and Virginia are right at 300. It took a while to make it to the state because the alcohol by volume percentages had been restricted by the state but this has been addressed by the ABCA. The state ABCA is now actively working with the West Virginia Craft Brewers Guild to help our state catch up to other markets.”
Both Old Spruce Tavern and Old Spruce Brewery carry a full menu. The draft house offers patrons with a few snack items. Lawrence considers his culinary team like family. His chefs are Dave Carte and Cornell Morris and they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the family. You can find menus for both the tavern and brewery at oldsprucetavern.com.
Throughout the winter ski/snowboard season, the brewery will have acoustic music most Saturdays from 7:30p-9:30p. They also plan to have a few concerts on the back lawn this summer. Also, make arrangements to attend their Beer Dinner which is planned for late winter/early spring. Follow them on facebook @OldSpruceBrew for updates.
Lawrence says he would not be where he is today without his family (staff). In this interview, he gives special thanks to Valerie Wade, Jonathan Peters, Christopher Eure, Cornell Morris, Dave Carte, Jason Long, Kasea Marquardt, Lucas Holt, Nic Ransom, Sara Jonese, and Nicola Reid. “They are the reason for the Success, it takes a team,” says Lawrence.