In small towns and cities with such a great community feel like Salem, folks generally like to shop local. Merchants in Salem certainly rise to meet that demand: area farmers sell their goods at the beloved Farmers Market downtown, small businesses line Main Street with all sorts of shops for all sorts of needs, and coffee enthusiasts can enjoy special roasts at several locally-owned coffee shops based right in Salem.
And for those who enjoy sipping on more than coffee, Parkway Brewing Co. will soon offer locally crafted seasonal beers–also right here in Salem.
Shopping locally is also very important to owners Lezlie and Mike “Keno” Snyder. The Snyders, alongside brewmaster Ryan Worthington (plus a number of other rotating helpers), have got their reclaimed warehouse space on Kessler Mill Road humming with activity as they cook up their new creations. Keno and Ryan worked together at Roanoke Railhouse Brewing Co. before making the decision to branch out and make craft beers of their own.
The Snyders say they’ll have four types of beer available to start.
“We’re starting small,” Lezlie says. “We don’t want to compromise on the quality of the beer” by taking on too many different brews, she says.
Options for tasting and for purchase will start out with the Bridge Builder Blonde, a brew similar to a Blue Moon or Shock Top, which they anticipate will be the biggest crowd pleaser; the Get Bent Mountain IPA; the Four Damn Fights to a Pint Double IPA, named after a quote from an episode of “Moonshiners”, which was partially filmed in Franklin County; and the Magella Dark Belgian Abbey Ale, named for Ryan’s wife–and the brewery’s resident artist–Jessica Magella Worthington.
Jessica helped to design the logos for each of the brews–and the coolest story behind the designs has to be the one for the Bridge Builder Blonde.
The Bridge Builder logo, which is based off of an old Parkway photo the Snyders found a while back (courtesy of National Park Service, Blue Ridge Parkway), is pictured in the slideshow above and features one of the Parkway’s signature stone bridges with a gentleman in clodhoppers standing proudly in front. The gentleman is David O. Vecellio, an Italian immigrant and Salemite, according to Lezlie. Vecellio worked building those stone bridges that dot the Parkway.
But the most noteworthy connection was yet to come. Lezlie was leaving the brewery one day a few months ago to pick up her child from the Salem Montessori School and was a few minutes early, she says. Lezlie’s parents and grandparents were Salemites–she herself lived in Salem until the third grade–so she says she often drives through East Hill Cemetery to visit her grandfather’s grave.
“I’m standing on the hill at my grandfather’s grave–I can basically see the brewery from there,” she says. She turned around and saw that the headstone two plots away from her grandfather’s reads David O. Vecellio.
“Isn’t that wild?”
Keeping it local just comes naturally to the Snyders.
They want to reach out to biking enthusiasts–which shouldn’t be too hard, since the Greenway passes directly by their building. They also love their close proximity to I-81, and plan to offer specials on Virginia Tech game days, in order to catch the crowd on their way to Blacksburg.
After months of planning and work, with still more yet to do, “it’s feeling real,” Lezlie says. “There’s stuff in those tanks finally!”
They’re building a stage at the brewery so they can host live music events, and they plan to have a beer garden outdoors. Lezlie also says she hopes to have food trucks at the brewery from some of their larger events–and she and Keno are interested in renting out space to folks for parties of their own. Ryan is also available for tours of the brewery, Keno says.
Parkway Brewing Co. will be open for tastings on the weekends (Thursday through Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m.) within a few weeks, and the Snyders have plans for a more formal grand opening/party in the Spring.
Check back here for updates, and be sure to visit their Facebook page for more information.