Old Spruce Brewing at Snowshoe officially open-ed August 24, 2019, as the third business owned and operated by Lawrence Walkup on the mountain.
The brewery joined the Old Spruce Café and Tavern and Old Spruce Draft House, both of which are located in The Village at Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
One part brewery and one part bar, the new business is the best of both worlds, which is evident by its décor. From the outside, the brewery seems to be just another metal building, but once inside, the rustic décor and rich wood accents have the feel of a cabin or lodge.
On the brewery side, it’s less rustic and more industrial, with shiny silver brewing equipment where resident brewers Chris Eure and Nick Ransom create all the Old Spruce originals.
“Right now, Eure’s doing about twelve and doing test batches all the time,” Walkup said. “We’re constantly doing small batches to test the market, work on recipes, give us time to think about what people want.”
As for varieties, Old Spruce has a blond, IPAs, a pale ale, amber, porter and stouts. Nothing is off limits for these brewers.
“We’re still trying to stay very streamlined,” Walkup said. “We’re not trying to go too far off with doing sours. We are looking at doing a seltzer. They’re so different from beer, but we know that it’s a niche that people want. Some people don’t like beer.”
Along with the Old Spruce brews, the brewery serves West Virginia cider and some liquor, but it does not have a full bar.
“We do the West Virginia cider and then we have a whiskey bar upstairs, and we do a small selection of liquors,” Walkup explained. “It’s just to accommodate the people who are coming with the beer drinkers because some people won’t drink anything but liquor.
“You want to make it an experience for everybody,” he added. “Sometimes we’ll get them to try beers and sometimes they’ll find something they like. They don’t realize they like beer because the niche of what’s always been – what people always thought was beer – the flavor profiles are different now.”
With so many options in the beer world, Walkup said it’s interesting to see what his brewers create.
“It’s crazy the different beers you can do,” he said. “I rely on my brewers for that. Eure and Nick are the brewers. I’m not a brewer.”
At this time, the brewery supplies all the Old Spruce businesses, but Walkup hopes to also have six and 12-pack sales soon.
“We’re doing the Crowler cans – the 32 ounce cans – but I’m looking to do more,” he said. “I don’t really have the desire to go into big distribution, so I’m looking for a small canning system where we can sell six packs and twelve packs from here, the Tavern and the Draft House in The Village.”
The brewery also has a kitchen with a unique menu of appetizers and “bar food” with a twist.
Chef David Carte creates starters like spice edamame, a jumbo pretzel with beer cheese, candied cayenne bacon and Highland nachos.
For something more hearty, diners can choose from a list of four types of tacos or rice bowls – cracklin’ chicken, beef brisket, veggie, seared ahi tuna – and the menu continues to grow.
After opening last summer, the brewery has had a successful run, that is until the Covid-19 pandemic made things a little difficult – but not impossible.
“We were actually open more than I planned to be open,” Walkup said of the statewide quarantine. “In April, I planned to be closed, but because of the pandemic, we were getting more local people.
“We did curbside in April and did really well,” he continued. “We’ve been really busy with curbside. This winter, curbside will be a big deal.”
Looking ahead to the winter season, Walkup said he plans to be open at the same time Snowshoe opens around Thanksgiving.
Since the pandemic shutdown in April, Walkup has streamlined the way the brewery sanitizes and socially distances its customers.
“Masks are required,” he said. “I will tell somebody if they don’t have a mask on, they have to leave. No questions. It’s not debatable. It is what it is. It’s not political. The Health Department says wear a mask; I say wear a mask. And if you don’t like it then I’m willing to sacrifice your dollars to do what’s right. It’s not always about money. It’s about people.”
The brewery has limited seating due to the social distancing requirements and both the downstairs and upstairs dining areas will be open by reservation to ensure there is not an overcrowding issue.
With grant funding, Walkup was able to purchase hydrostatic sprayers, and the staff uses them to sanitize the bathrooms every 90 minutes.
“You do what you’ve got to do,” he said. “You adapt. If you want to survive, you’ve got to adapt.”
Old Spruce Brewing will be open Thursday through Sunday during the winter season. For updates, visit Old Spruce Brewing on Facebook.