On a recent weekday at Parkway Brewing Co. in Salem, only me and a few employees rattled around inside the yawning industrial building.
As I talked to brew master Ryan Worthington, company founder Mike “Keno” Snyder was busy scooting one of six picnic tables in the warehouse space into a diagonal position.
“I don’t like them all in a straight line,” he said. “It reminds me of a school cafeteria.”
That’s Keno for you, his friends say — always thinking and never walking a boring straight line.
As they prepare to open the brewery in a few weeks, life is about to take an interesting turn for Snyder and his wife, Lezlie. It is a diversion born of a love of good beer, a fascination with the brewing process and a firm belief that craft brewing is a sound investment right now.
There is strong evidence to support that belief. According to the Brewers Association, a nonprofit trade association based in Boulder, Colo., the craft beer industry grew 13 percent by volume and 15 percent in retail sales in 2011. Alcohol sales in general — including wine, beer and spirits — have continued to climb despite the recent recession, presumably because people like to drink as much — if not more — when they are bummed out than they drink when they are happy.
The caveat is that craft beer enthusiasts have to like the product. Judging by what I’ve seen and tasted at Parkway Brewing Co., that’s not likely to be a problem.
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What do you think about southwest Virginia’s craft beer scene so far? Are you looking forward to tasting Parkway’s beer?