The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Brew Pubs
West Virginia





Lost River Brewing Company
155 W Main St,
Wardensville, WV 26757
(304) 874-4455

I do not know what town holds the record for most breweries per capita but Wardensville, WV with 273 people and Lost River Brewery has to rank right up there. At that rate Portland, OR ought to have 2209 breweries, so maybe we have Beervana East?

You ain't gonna find this place by mistake. Or maybe that is the only way you'll find it. Any way you find it you are in luck because this one-time dry goods, hardware, furniture store, cum brewery is one dynamite little place for a beer and a meal.

It is only open when tourons, a cross between a tourist and a moron, are on the road...that means weekends. The red-roofed white building is festooned with a Lost River flag and a sidewalk blackboard declaring they are open for business. On the left is the tavern/restaurant; on the right is the brewery. On a sunny afternoon the muted darkness of the tavern challenges the eyes to adjust but adjust they do. On the left is a lacquered hardwood bar that seats 15 or so to the right are high tables for groups. The walls are boards, red behind the bar, beige everywhere else. The floor looks like original hardwood, the ceilings are mostly wood with exposed ductwork. Drapery curtains separate spaces where doors might otherwise. It works.

I sat at the bar, to my left were spacious storefront windows. The homes across the street were spittin' distance. Traffic was rare. Bluegrass music plays gently in the background. Before you leave you're gonna wish you played the fiddle.

A blackboard announces four Lost River Beers. Today they have Cranberry Wit, Black Ale (5% and 24 IBUs), Pale Ale (5.5% and 47 IBUs), West Virginia Common (4.5% and 18.9 IBUs). I sample all four and dread the wit. It is sickly pale with a pinkish hue. Sonofagun if they don't nail it! It is tart and refreshing, a nice summer beer that manages the right balance between cranberry (which I hate) and wheat (which I like). WV Common is the hoppiest 19 IBUs I've had in a while, it'sa session beer.

Now here is the Questor's bonus. The menu ain't shabby. Lamb chop starters! What is this New Zealand?Tuna, calamari, shrimp, oysters? What up? Can't they see we are landlocked in mountain country? The sandwich menu is attractive if limited but the entrees make up for it and today a lunch special is an oyster po'boy. "Prove it!" I say, give me one and beer battered onion rings too. I wish this was in my neighborhood because this landlocked microbrewery served the best oyster po'boy this side of Nawhlins. The sesame onion roll was so fresh women got up and moved. The oysters may not have slept anywhere yesterday but they were not frozen and the fixins were fresher than the oysters. The onion rings were killer, as in too many of them are going to kill you.

There were three guest taps - Mountain State's Cold Trail, Long Point Lager, and Yuengling and about a dozen forgettable bottles. Behind the bar was a selection of whiskies that ran to CC and Seagram's 7.
Goddam I wish Icould play the fiddle.





Morgantown Brewing Company

1291 University Ave.
Morgantown, West Virginia
(304) 296-BREW

What used to be West Virginia Brewing Company has now become Morgantown Brewing Company. Re-opened in 2009, and under new ownership, MBC is revitalizing West Virginia's oldest operating brewery. Alumni owned and operated, MBC is committed to high-quality, on-premise craft brews that satisfy the evolving tastes of today's responsible beer consumers.

Currently, the brewery offers eight craft brews in its arsenal with several seasonal brews and small-batch special brews released every week.

The dining side of the establishment has been updated, with booths and dark wood...very pub-like. Also, an oval bar has been added for when things get busy.

MBC offers full-service dining, a large outdoor deck, and Fresh Beer for Home Use packaged in carry-out growler containers.




Mountain State Brewing Co.
1 Nelson Blvd.
Thomas, W.Va.

Brewer Brian Arnett, who used to brew for Ryleigh's in Baltimore before they ceased their brewing operation in 2005, has succeeded in bringing his craft brewing skills back to his home state.
Along with his partner, Willie Lehmann, they have set up shop in beautiful and rustic Thomas, in West Virginia's scenic Canaan Valley.
Mountain State Brewing is not hard to locate...right on Rt. 32 in Thomas.
These lads turn out some great brews.
The small onsite outlet is a snug little pub, with lots of stone and timber. They featured three beers at the time of our visit; Almost Heaven Amber Ale, Seneca Indian Pale Ale, and Cold Trail Ale.
The crowd was lively, and all the beers were different and delicious. Whether you are in the Valley for skiing, hunting, or hiking, you'll want to make sure Mountain State is at the end of your trail.
Mountain State also has restaurants in Morgantown and Deep Creek Lake.




Blackwater Brewing Company
PO Box 356, Davis, WV 26260
Phone: 304-259-4221

Nestled in the mountains, not far from Blackater Falls, West Virginia's highest cataract, is the Blackwater Brewing Company.

The newspaper on the men's room wall proclaims Peyton Manning and Steve McNair are sharing the MVP, so some things have not changed at the Blackwater Brewing Company.
The good news is the beer has.
Dr. Lincoln Wilkins cut his teeth on brewing in his backyard in New Orleans and in May 2012 he became the new owner of the Blackwater Brewing Company.

The inside of this place has always been interesting. Pine booths, tables, benches, high tables, a small wooden bar, a game room, a small lounging area, and on the day of my visit... five new beers on tap.
They were Goldenrod Golden Ale, 3200 Alt Bier, Mountain Marzen, Vanilla Maple Porter, and Sweet Oatmeal Stout.
I had all but the Goldenrod and enjoyed each one. These are solid, consistent session beers; I could have spent the night with any one of them. The Porter was made with locally sourced maple and it was my favorite until Lincoln let me preview an English Pale Ale he is getting ready to bring online. I'd go back for more of that one.
The Marzen was very repeatable...there was nothing extreme about any of these beers but each made a good companion. That is not a bad thing in a craft beer world where "one is enough" is too often the rule—for any number of reasons.
The stout, by the way, poured thickly and had strong coffee notes.
Each beer left a lacy story on its glass.

Lincoln really wants to brew beer, I think. The equipment sparkled and it has not sparkled for some time.
I say he wants to brew beer because the food and the service were both hard to find on this visit. The menu is gone, forget what the sign outside says. You can basically have wings or a burger. I had the wings and they were very tasty.
Every time I wanted a refill I had to go find someone, usually a young lady not old enough to pour me a beer who, in turn, had to go find somebody.
Let's hope that part gets worked out quickly.

Lincoln Wilkins is a personable and terribly polite guy. He carded me (I am 81) and examined my license hard for a good 30 seconds. Expect the same if you order a beer. His task is daunting. He is trying to teach craft beer to an often young crowd that prefers Macro Lite to anything with taste. So he sells $3.50 bottles and cans that compete with his own nice beers at $5 a pint. Hopefully he'll find some bars to stock his beers, a bar maid who wants to take care of the bar, and a few food items that fit.
This is a nice brew pub in a tough location. Godspeed Dr. Wilkins.
And leave that McNair story in the men's room, it warms the cockles of me heart.