BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — The new craft beer company Berkeley Springs Brewing Company celebrated its first full year of operation and officially unveiled its expanded production facility with a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon Friday, Sept. 16.
The celebration continues with a traditional Ocktoberfest, Saturday, Sept. 17, starting at noon, at the brewery located at 91 Sugar Hollow Road, Berkeley Springs.
The brewery features standard and adventurously flavored microbrewed beers made from award-winning Berkeley Springs mineral water. Locally sourced, creative ingredients are reflected in the beverage names, such as Warm Springs Pale Ale, caCapon Kolsh, Apple Butter Ale, Lovers Leap IPA and Lord Fairfax English IPA. Surprise seasonal concoctions may also appear, such as Paw Paw Ale brewed with locally harvested fruit.
The food on the brewpub menu also features their beer, including a red ale barbecue sauce, beer cheese dip, brisket slow-roasted in brown ale, and beer-infused brownies and cupcakes. Wines and distilled spirits produced in other parts of West Virginia are also featured.
The Berkeley Springs Brewing Company is owned by husband-and-wife team Karl and Denise Wagenbrenner. He’s the brew master, and she’s the business manager. Before opening the craft brewery, the Wagenbrenners sold home-brew materials and taught brew-on-premises classes in their Mountainman Brew Supplies shop. Students raved about the quality and taste of his concoctions and urged him to start his own brewery.
Making the leap to commercial operation required some expert help. Among the resources the Wagenbrenners called on was the West Virginia Small Business Development Center (WVSBDC). The business couple credit former WVSBDC Business Coach Robert Marggraf and current WVSBDC Coach Mary Hott, based in Martinsburg.
WVSBDC provided guidance in writing a business plan, sharpening business management skills, financing options and access to capital.
“Because we are a husband and wife team trying to build and operate a startup, our business coach Mary Hott was invaluable in helping us define our roles, determine the direction to proceed in and keep focus,” Denise said. “This has helped us expand and better define our market.”
Business coaches like Hott operate from WVSBDC offices across West Virginia. They collaborate with other business coaches in the statewide network. WVSBDC coaches are skilled individuals with professional certifications ranging from exporting, innovation, technology, economic development, finance, management, marketing and entrepreneurship.
“Berkeley Springs Brewing is a startup company that has proven itself through that difficult first year of operation and was primed for its first expansion,” Coach Hott said. “WVSBDC offers skills, services and connections to resources and funding to help small business owners make good business decisions that lead to success.”
Funding for the brewery’s expansion came from the Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF), which advises and finances small to midsized enterprises in rural and underserved communities across a nine-state region. The new brewing equipment doubles the volume of beer production, and also provides the essential clarity and consistency of product that is needed to move into broader product distribution.
The Wagenbrenners also credit the West Virginia Division of Tourism and its GoToWV.com tourism development campaign for increasing the number of visitors to their brewery.
“Last weekend there were visitors to the brewery who traveled more than three hours to receive their ‘On-Tap Badges’ from the West Virginia brewery tour sponsored by Tourism,” said Denise. “We frequently have visitors from throughout the New Jersey, Delaware, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., region saying they found us through the state tourism mobile apps.”
Local support from the Berkeley Springs Chamber of Commerce and Travel Berkeley Springs has also been essential to the company’s growth.
“We want to give a special thank you to West Virginia Senator Charles Trump and Delegate Daryl Cowles, local legislators who supported the passing of Senate Bill 273,” Denise said. “This piece of legislation was critical for the fledgling brewery industry to be able to fulfill its potential as an economic driver in our state.”
The WVSBDC is part of the West Virginia Development Office and creates economic impact by offering cost-effective business coaching and technical assistance. The SBDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and is an Accredited Member of America’s Small Business Development Center network. For more information visit www.wvsbdc.org.
# # #