Owner says microbrewery needed downtown
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you build it they will come — and drink your beer.
That's what Charleston Urban Renewal Authority Executive Director Jim Edwards thinks about the new microbrewery under construction on Quarrier Street near the corner of Summers Street.
"I think a microbrewery will do well downtown," Edwards said. "It will cause some folks to stay downtown longer after work during the week, and it will help pick up the weekend traffic a bit."
Ann Saville, owner of Taylor Books on Capitol Street, will open the new brewpub in the city-owned parking garage at the corner of two busy downtown streets. Saville also believes the brewpub will open in a prime spot.
A restaurant featuring former Bluegrass Kitchen chef Gary Needham will be located in the brewpub, Saville said.
"I'd say we'll get a lot of the lunch crowd," she said. "You can't beat the location."
Saville, 79, does not believe the brewpub will directly compete with any of the other restaurants and niche bars in the downtown. She said it will lure more people downtown and help all of the business prosper.
"The brewery will be just another piece in the downtown puzzle," Saville said.
Edwards agreed, saying that a downtown area needs a "critical mass" of restaurants and niche shops before it can become a destination.
"People won't come to an area that only has one or two things to do," he said. "But they will come to an area that has multiple venues."
Construction workers with Saville's son's company, Saville Construction Inc., were busy digging through the dirt floor of the building on Tuesday.
The workers were also tearing up the concrete and rebar that was part of the Lyric Theater, which used to sit on the corner where the parking garage now stands.
The work is slowing down construction, but Saville still hopes to open by sometime in March, she said.
Saville has already come up with a name for the company, Charleston Brewing Company. But she is still looking for a name for the brewpub itself.
She is even kicking around the possibility of a contest where people could submit their names for the pub. The winner would likely be paid in beer from the brewery, she said.
"I'd like to see what people come up with," she said.
What Saville will be coming up with is the beer. She will brew on-site behind a glass wall where patrons can watch the process.
She plans to concentrate on English style ales, which offer a wide spectrum for the palate.
For example, West Coast style ales trace their linage to English ales, said Ryan Heastings. The West Coast style ales have a hoppier taste than the traditional English ales, Heastings said.
Heastings, who is currently an employee at Pies & Pints, orders the beer and wine for the popular downtown pizzeria. He will be brewing beer for Saville when the brewery opens.
Heastings, 29, of Teays Valley, whose unofficial title at Pies & Pints is beer czar, has been making beer for about eight and a half years. He also volunteers his time at Bridge Brew Works in Fayetteville.
"We're going to be making a ton of different beers," he said. "That's the fun of it."
"We'll be doing things to capture the best of the classical brewing regions of the world," he added.
Saville said she was very pleased to have Heastings on board. Not only is he experienced at brewing beer, but he is also a hands-on people person who will be working the bar, she said.
"He has a lot of experience," Saville said. "And I really like his enthusiasm, his attitude and his people skills."
"He's just superb," she added.
Heastings will not be the only ones with his hands in the barley. Another of Saville's sons, David Saville, will also be assisting.
David Saville is a retired petroleum engineer who is familiar with the science associated with brewing beer. He has also been taking classes on brewing, Saville said.
Although he will be helping brew the beer, David Saville's main responsibility will be running the brewpub and restaurant, she said.
A world-renowned brewing expert, Dr. Paul Farnsworth, will also be a consulting brewer at Charleston Brewing Company, Saville said.
Farnsworth, an Englishman now living in Florida, has written textbooks on brewing beer. He also teaches the science of brewing and fermentation.