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Celebrating the microbrew at the Greenbrier's Discovery Series

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Brian Arnett clearly recalls craving a beer on a 6th grade camping trip. He didn't get one, but at age 37, he's had a few since then.

Arnett is co-founder along with his step-brother, Willie Lehmann, of http://mountainstatebrewing.com"> Mountain State Brewing Co., a brewpub and microbrewery based out of Thomas, W.Va., with locations in Morgantown and Deep Creek Lake, Md.

"A lot of people when they first taste beer they don't like it. That wasn't me," said Arnett, who founded Mountain State with Lehmann in 2005.

They'll be bringing their brew to the Greenbrier as part of the resort's Discovery Series "Brews and Blues Weekend" from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, celebrating artisanal breweries and blues music. Other breweries represented include Bridge Brew Works based in Fayetteville, Morgantown Brewing Company in Morgantown and Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, Va.

"Most people are more accustomed to a wine and food pairing," Greenbrier President Jeff Kmiec said. "We're working closely with these four microbreweries to come up with food and beer pairings and mixing in some really memorable blues act through the course of the weekend."

"It's a little bit non-traditional for us to feature beer and food pairings -- and we're devoting an entire weekend to both the blues and the brews which is something new for the Greenbrier," Kmiec said.

The weekend begins with Brews and Blues Reception in the Crystal Room with favorite beers on tap and "The Best of the Blues" performed by the Adrian Duke Project.

Mountain State Brewing Co., will host a BBQ-inspired meal with beer pairings.

Charles Rick of Blue Mountain Brewery will take guests through the history of American beer from its early beginnings, Prohibition, the Volstead Act and the current craft beer renaissance.

Bridge Brew Works founders Ken Linch and Nathan Herrold will discuss making quality brews at home and how they transitioned to their own micro-brewery.

Home brewing was the seed for Mountain State Brewing Co., Arnett said. His dad had dabbled in home brewing when Arnett was a kid. "My dad had books from the '70s on home brewing beer and I kind of pieced together his equipment."

In those early days, he used what he could find including packets of Fleischmann's Yeast for the fermentation. "It was horrible. But it worked," Arnett said.

After college he had "a corporate cubicle job," which he hated. So he took six months off and hitchhiked across New Zealand. "I didn't really want to go back to the cubicle."

He met a guy from Belgium, who introduced him to a high-end research lab devoted to brewing beer at a university. "One of the Ph.D. students gave me one of the research beers. I was sold at that point. That's when I came back and started home brewing all the time -- I brewed 15 or 20 gallons a week and drank that much between my friends and I."

He became an assistant brewer at Riley's Brewpub in Baltimore, where he learned the ropes of producing larger quantities of artisanal beer.

These days, Mountain State is producing more and more beer. "We do about 2800 barrels a year and we started at 300 barrels a year," Arnett said.

Mountain State has four standard beers as well as seasonal varieties. "We're just starting to rock seasonals now. We're introducing more and more seasonals." Among them is Dolly Suds, a cranberry Belgian Wit brewed with orange peel, coriander and cranberries.

Mountain State has ridden the craft beer renaissance. "It's grown beyond what I ever imagined and its still growing and there's still room," Arnett said. "It is a revolution -- it's people who are fed up being forced fed the same stuff. They want a story behind the stuff they consume. I think the whole thing is kind of rooted in like a good local revolution."

Being featured at the Greenbrier is just another plum.

Here is a sample of the beer/menu pairing for part of the Mountain State Brewing meal:

Mountain State beers: "Seneca Indian Pale Ale" and "Rumsey Rock Porter"

  • Smoked Beef Brisket with Maple-Porter BBQ Sauce
  • Grilled Prime Filet of Beef with IPA Chimichurri
  • Lobster Mac N' Cheese
  • Creamy Anson Mills Grits
  • Beer Battered Onion Rings with Smoked Tomato Ketchup
  • Braised Collard Greens with Pork Cheeks

These are Greenbrier prices so expect to pay $150 per person for the Mountain State Brewing evening of food and beer pairings. But whatever the cost, being a featured microbrewery at the Greenbrier is the real deal, Arnett said.

"Having our beer there is definitely a very cool thing."

For more information on the Brews and Blues weekend and other Discovery Series events, visit www.greenbrier.com/discovery.

Reach Douglas Imbrogno at douglas@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.


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