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Lost River Brewing Co.

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ANDREA LANNOM / The State Journal ANDREA LANNOM / The State Journal
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Brewing Company Honors Town's History

By ANDREA LANNOM ∙ alannom@statejournal.com

Adam Myers said the small Hardy County town of Wardensville picked him. 

Myers owns the Lost River Brewing Co., located in a historic building on West Main Street. And the history of the building and the town adorns the pub, ranging from black-and-white pictures of the town and the building that once served as a doctor's office. 

The sign for the doctor's office, listing its hours, also hangs on the wall. 

"The original owner appears in a number of pictures," Myers said. "The gentleman actually met my parents at one of the other restaurants, and his father and grandfather were the town doctors. They gave us an ash tray from the old season grill that is long since gone. … The building has a ton of history. It was built in the 1800s, and the original Steinway piano has been in that building since 1902. People still come in and play it." 

Myers wants to tie in his love for beer with its rich history.  

"Historical beer styles are extremely unrefined," he said. "And generally, it's not what modern day beer drinkers like. I've done a few, and historical styles are coming back. … Over the winter, I did a winter warm, which was aged on an oak barrel on the bar. I served it out of the oak barrel. It's something I want to do again this year." 

He also wants to do historical beers unique to Wardensville and West Virginia.  

"It's called Swanky. It's a sour beer. It's something I'll probably try to do a small batch of this winter. West Virginia had a really diverse brewing history," he said. "The area around Wheeling had a number of breweries in existence up until Prohibition. … That's something I would like to try to track down. It would be interesting to track them down and make it to tie it in." 

Myers' mother was born in Wardensville, and his grandfather was the town's sheriff. Before owning the brewery, Myers worked at a food processing plant in Winchester, Va. 

"I had just a monstrous amount of responsibility and a monstrous amount of hours. I kind of said, ‘I should give this a shot while I can and take the opportunity to do something I was passionate about," Myers said. "If it works and it grows, that's great, and if it didn't, I was young enough where I could recover from it." 

Taking a gamble, he moved to Wardensville, opening up his brewery in 2010.   

"So far, it's paid off," he said. "Our attention to detail and our almost dogged unwillingness to change and take it easy on ourselves has given us the reputation that we have. Currently, the last time I looked at the numbers, a beer I wrote the recipe for, we sold 1,000 of it alone at the pub last month and 30 Bud Lights in that amount of town. This is coming from a town that has a very strong hold on Budweiser and Bud products." 

And his brewery business kept growing and growing. Myers said he couldn't make the beer fast enough to supply the demand. A distributer in Charles Town started selling his beer. 

At the time, his brewery was much smaller. 

"We are underserved in the restaurant market and craft beer market," he said. 

Myers then made the decision to expand, ordering a new seven-barrel brewing system, custom made from Portland Kettle Works.

"That's the brewhouse," he said, noting they start with malted barley and cracked grain. It's prepared it in three vessels. "The mess in the back center is the liquor tank where we heat and prepare the water, and the vessel on the left side, we fill with grains, selected and cracked, and we pour that hot liquor over the top. That submerges the grain in the water. … The sugars break down, and it's transferred to other vessels and we add the hops after and boil it. After we transfer to the fermenter, we add yeast and it becomes beer." 

The process up to adding the yeast takes about eight hours, he said. After that, it could take anywhere from 10 days to several months. 

"Everything we are doing right now is an ale," he said. "We do have a recipe written for a lager." 

Myers said they run about five seasonal beers a year, depending on ingredients he can get.

"Late in August, we got some local malt, or as local as we could get it from Asheville, N.C. We paired with hops we got from Virginia to create a white IPA. That did really well." 

Myers also operates his restaurant from a farm-to-table philosophy. 

 "As often as we can get local produce, we will. We have not found a local meat supplier yet. … I was working on some of that, toying around with heritage pork as well with the pigs I raised." 

He said everything in his restaurant, except for French fries, is made from scratch. His dad also brings in fresh fish and soft shell crabs from the Chesapeake Bay. 

"My saying is we take things that could be extremely easy and make it as difficult as possible," he joked. "It's a labor intensive and prep intensive process, but it's the only way we can keep the quality where it needs to be."