Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Country Roads took me to West Virginia

A couple weeks ago, I traveled to Morgantown, West Virginia for a friend's Bachelor party.  While the going out til the wee hours of the morning then waking up for white water rafting was fun, I found a city that was dying for a great beer culture.  Pieces were starting to get in place, but there were still some major building blocks to go.

As with other states, until a last year West Virginia was a state that didn't allow beers that were over 6%.  Think of all the beer that is left out.  If most beer geeks list their top 10 beers, I would bet 8 wouldn't have been allowed.  Yes, there were ways around it, drive to Maryland or Pennsylvania, but technically, that would be illegal.

I arrived in Morgantown at around 3 on Friday afternoon.  With my friends in the middle of a round of golf, I did what anyone else would do.  Found myself a brewpub.  I headed downtown and arrived at Morgantown Brewing(Brew house in pictures to the above and below)  Lucky for me, they opened 2-3 minutes before I arrived.  I walked into the brewpub and found a great open space, that held two rooms.  The first room had tables and a U-shaped bar.  The second room held the brew house as well as another bar and some video games.

I took up a seat at the bar (I was the only one there, save for the employees) and ordered their Alpha Blonde Ale.  Nice blonde, but nothing that I would go back for.  The beer menu said it perfectly:
"perfect for the session connoisseur and the timid domestic drinker looking for an introductory craft beer. "
It would be a great beer to give someone to introduce them to craft.  It was very mild on the flavors, but there were good flavors there.  After the blonde, I had to give their Zach Morgan IPA a try (it helped that I got a curry chicken salad sandwich to match).  The IPA was a very good, simple IPA.  This was a beer that I thoroughly enjoyed on a beautiful, warm day, if only I had sat outside.

About this time, another guy pulled up to the bar, and we started chatting.  His name, Travis Carrow.  He is doing his best to get good beer to West Virginia, with the creation of West Virginia Craft Beer Appreciation Society.  He updated me on a brew fest they held the weekend before (that would have been awesome to go to).  They were able to get 50 different brews poured for the participants.  He also filled me in on the law changes that have taken place in the past couple of years, and what the beer drinkers of the state are hoping to accomplish in the future.

Travis also introduced me to the Brewer and Assistant Brewer.  Both nice guys doing their best to make good beer. Next I had what I feel was Morgantown Brewing's best beer, 80 Shilling Scotch Ale (even though I do not normally like Scotch ales, this was a very very good one- even though I wouldn't order it again).  The next night, I brought all the guys down for dinner there.  One friend, who works as an assistant brewer at a larger brewery and loves scotch ales, was thrilled with the 80 Shilling, it made his weekend to get such a smooth, malty beer, when you expect the weekend to be full of adjunct lagers.  That next night, I had the Old Morgantown Amber Ale and the Two Weeks Lager, two more good beers, but the prize of the brewpub is the Scotch Ale.  I left the brewpub and headed to a bar that Travis said was the best in town. 

Jay's Getaway is probably not even known to most of the residents or college students in Morgantown, but it will be in my mind for any future trips back. (I had to use a BA page, since it doesn't have a website, the "A" rating is well-worth it.)  Inside there were only 6 taps- yes, the best beer bar in Morgantown has 4 taps.  Where they make up for it is the selection in their fridge.  It is not 400 bottles, truthfully it probably was around 70.  (Beer refridgerator in picture at right.)  But all of the beer was quality.  As I walked into the bar, the bartender was stacking the fridge with the new beer she was able to get it.  She was thrilled to finally get Flying Dog on the shelves.  It was great to hear from a second person that they want to improve Morgantown's beer culture.

It was unique going from a thriving beer city (Baltimore) and visiting a city that wants to have a strong beer bars and breweries.  I could see the people working hard to bring good beer to the city and state, and know in the future Morgantown will be proud of their beer culture.


  1. Morgantown Brewing makes some pretty decent stuff. It is a pretty fun city to visit as well, my girlfriend did a rotation there.

  2. Hey Jay, it was great meeting you the other day and be sure to look me up when you return in the future.

    We are working hard to make WV a better beer state. We have a ways to go but we will get there sooner than later.

    Hope to see you soon,

    Travis Carrow
    WV Craft Beer Appreciation Society

  3. Jay, thanks for all the kind words about The Getaway! I really appreciate it, and hope to see you again soon.

    Thanks again,