MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Chestnut Brew Works in Morgantown has been in business for nearly 10 years but continues to innovate with new brews, like its blueberry blond ale, Bloob. 12 News talked with head brewer and founder, Bill Rittenour, to talk about Chestnut Brew Works and
Chestnut Brew Works started out on Halleck Road, between Morgantown and Fairmont, where their most iconic brew gets its name, the Halleck Pale Ale. Rittenour said they made their first commercial sale at the Star City Volunteer Fire Department Brew Festival in 2013, the last year the event was held.
Bloob was released for the first time this year and seeks to be a regular, down-the-line blond ale that lets the blueberry shine without being too tart.
“Sours are a specific palate. Some people enjoy sour beers some people don’t, so we wanted to get a fruit beer out there that was just having the fruit at the forefront.” Rittenour said. “We wanted to make a fruit beer for people who don’t enjoy sours.”
Keeping this beer as a blonde instead of making it a sour makes it more desirable to some drinkers, and keeps the cost and time of production down, as the souring process can take several months.
While making the beer, Chestnut Brew Works uses an aseptic blueberry puree to give the beer its distinct but not overpowering blueberry flavor and purple color. “Aseptic” means the puree is free of any bacteria or outside contamination that may inadvertently cause the beer to sour.
“We like making stuff that’s different, to get out of the rigamarole and the routine of making Halleck all the time. Souring, it’s more of a process, it takes more time and stuff, but it can be fun,” Rittenour said.
When creating a new brew, Rittenour said the first thing they do is look at what they currently have available to avoid having too many beers in the same style. Next, they look at the ingredients that would be needed. Can the beer be produced at a price that will make both CBW and the customer happy?
Rittenour said this was a factor in one of their other beers, Berry Me in West Virginia, a raspberry blonde ale in a similar vein to the Bloob. The price of raspberries has risen drastically in the last two years, which is why the beer has been on a hiatus.
“Everything has gone up in price. Everything has,” Rittenour said. “We like to try to keep our fruit beers affordable, so we started experimenting with different fruits and that’s how we ended up with the blueberry.”
Other times, when they are sourcing ingredients, they will be made aware of lower prices on certain ingredients like hops or other fruits, which enables further experimentation.
However, sourcing specific ingredients can be a common problem in brewing, since there are more than 30, likely upwards of 50 or 60 varieties of hops, according to Rittenour, and brewing yeast and grain also have tons of different varieties. Rittenour said one example of this problem happened with the Bloob. The blueberry puree they usually get wasn’t available from their normal distributor, so they tried a different one. Unfortunately, this alternate puree did not impart the same qualities as the original, and resulted in a beer that didn’t taste like their usual recipe.
“It’s all a very complex equation to get the flavors that we’re looking for. Even just within a very simple beer recipe, there’s a lot of variety,” Rittenour said.
With that being said, he and Chestnut Brew Works fans, are always looking forward to what will come next.
“Especially now, there’s really no limit. Before you used to have, ‘Well, is it within this style guideline or this style guideline?’ And really, if you’re staying within style guidelines, you’re almost doing yourself a disservice.”
If you are looking to try the Bloob you can find it on tap at the Chestnut Brew Works taproom in Morgantown, with a fresh batch of cans to be available soon. Chestnut Brew Works also has several new and returning beers that will be coming to taps in the near future:
- Blue Lot Special: A “Tailgate IPA” loaded with aromatic and flavorful hops and a bit lower alcohol content to make it more drinkable.
- Oktoberfest: An Oktoberfest-style beer made with German Munich malts and created in collaboration with Von Blaze in Morgantown.
- Your Best Hoption: This west coast double IPA is a CBW classic that will be returning soon and was one of the first beers the brewery sold back in 2013.
- South Park Porter: A seasonal porter CBW makes during the winter months.
Rittenour also said that work on Chestnut Brew Works’ new location near the Westover bridge is continuing but is still unable to pin down a firm date on when it will open.
When asked if there was anything he wanted to add at the end of the interview, Rittenour had this to say:
“Thanks to all our customers out there. It lets us do what we love to do. We really appreciate the support, especially the Halleck fans, but everyone. It’s always nice to run into people and have their support. It keeps us doing what we’re doing.”
If you want to try some of Chestnut Brew Works many delicious craft beers, they distribute to Morgantown, Fairmont, Clarksburg and Bridgeport.