FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Rambling Root has pretty much everything you could ask for if you’re a Star Wars fan who also happens to enjoy craft beer.
Located on Fairmont Ave. in… Fairmont, this restaurant and brewery has been serving a wide variety of West Virginia-made beer for more than five years.
Owner and founder of The Rambling Root, DJ Cassel, said his dad was a home brewer but didn’t get into it himself until he graduated college. Cassell was helping a friend move out of her apartment because she had broken up with her boyfriend, so she gave DJ her ex’s Christmas present, a homebrew kit.
“Being a broke, just-graduated kid from West Virginia, I knew it was way more economical to brew your own beer than to buy it,” Cassell said with a smile.
Cassell and his old business partner Josh Clark founded the Rambling Root in 2017 and just wanted to make a place where people could hang out and geek out, all while enjoying some delicious craft beer.
When it comes to actually brewing beer, Cassell says his favorite beers to make are the “weird and off the wall” kinds. One example he gave was a beer called gruit, an extremely old style that is unhopped and uses herbs for flavoring instead of hops.
“I like to do that because it’s just not what you expect. You expect the hops, you expect the malt, but when you throw in something weird like rosemary and green tea it’s like, ‘That’s strange, but I like it.’ Using weird, fun ingredients is my favorite part to experimenting with beer,” Cassell said.
Cassell enjoys beers like the gruit because his relatively small-scale operation, compared to larger local breweries like Big Timber Brewing, often allows him to make interesting and wacky small-batch brews and not have to worry about distribution because they are available only at The Rambling Root.
Experimentation is a main focus for Cassell, who enjoys the challenge of using ingredients he hasn’t used before. He looks for ingredients that aren’t just fermentable, but also have a lot of flavors.
“I’ll have a farmer on who says that have 30 pounds of beets they’ll give me a good deal on, and I’m like ‘Alright, we’re doing a beet beer!’” Cassell said.
When Cassell was asked if he had any advice for people who are first getting into brewing for themselves he said to not be afraid of making a bad beer.
“The biggest thing honestly is just do it. Because honestly, everyone messes up, and you’re gonna mess up and you’re gonna make bad beer sometimes.”
Cassell says that even since he started The Rambling Root, he’s had to dump 22-gallon batches of beer because he messed it up. “Just pull the trigger,” he says.
One of the beers Cassell has been trying to get working is his own spin on Star Wars “blue milk,” a blueberry and cotton candy hazy IPA, but still hasn’t found a way to get the look he wants.
At the end of his interview with 12 News, DJ Cassell was asked a series of quickfire questions like his favorite beer – here were his answers:
- What’s your favorite beer to drink and your favorite to make? – “Lagers and Lagers.”
- Dogs or cats? – “I used to say I was a dog person. I’ve got cats now and so now I just say I’m an animal person because I’d pet a skunk if I could.”
- What’s your favorite beer? – “It depends on the season and it depends on my mood. I think West Virginia brewers make some of the best beer in the world, and I’ve traveled a good bit. I’m originally from Seatle and I think we make amazing beer here. So if I had to pick a favorite, it’s going to be something local.”
- What’s your favorite movie? – “I mean, I love all the Star Wars, but that encompasses like nine movies.”
- What’s your favorite Star Wars character then? – “Han Solo and I really like Diego Luna’s character in Rogue One and Andor.”
- What’s one beer people should go try right now? – “I think people should try styles they’ve never heard of before you know? Like, try a Saison, try a Schwarzbier. Tastes change, and even if you don’t like it, at least you tried it. It’s not gonna hurt ya.”
If you find yourself in the Fairmont area and a hopless beer sounds interesting or maybe you’re looking for somewhere to relax and meet some fellow beer nerds, The Rambling Root is open Tuesday to Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and opens at noon on Friday and Saturday.