SALEM – If everything goes smoothly, three weeks from now Parkway Brewing Company in Salem will have its first beer ready for tasting.
Salem’s first commercial microbrewery is 739 Kessler Mill Rd. in Salem. The
microbrewery, started by a couple of Roanoke-area brewers, is close to opening to the public.
“We are so close to opening, and are planning to do their first brews on Dec. 28 and 29,” said Mike “Keno” Snyder, whose wife, Lezlie, grew up in Salem.
If everything goes smoothly, the doors should open three weeks later.
Snyder said from a brewing day until finished product, it takes about three weeks for beer to be ready. “At that point, we look forward to having everyone come to the tasting room to try it.”
A couple of weeks before Christmas, the manufacturer of the equipment, J.B. Northwest, arrived to “commission” the equipment, and basically get it running, said Snyder, and make sure everything is operating properly.
Brewers Snyder and Ryan Worthington recently finished up the process of outfitting the warehouse with a 30-barrel brewing system. They received the last of the equipment necessary to start up production for the general public, and were thrilled to show off their new “toys.”
Both have previous experience in brewing beer. The two met while working together at Roanoke Railhouse Brewery, where Snyder was Head Brewer and Worthington was Brewmaster.
Lezlie Snyder grew up in Salem in her early years. Her grandfather was Al Jones who owned Salem Frame that was later purchased by Rowe Furniture. Her dad, Robert Bradley, designed the Salem Public Library shortly after graduating from the University of Virginia Architectural School, and also had a hand in developing Spartan Square. Bradley’s dad built the waterwheel that went with the former restaurant in the courtyard, Snyder said.
“I started coming here about 25 years ago with Lezlie,” Snyder said.
They have two children, the youngest, 8-year-old Ava, who attends Salem Montessori, and 11-year-old Olivia, who is a middle school student at James Madison in Roanoke.
Worthington, who studied brewing techniques in Chicago and Germany, holds an International Diploma in Brewing Technology.
Snyder, originally from Knoxville, Tenn., and Worthington, from western North Carolina, are visibly elated about their new craft brewery. Worthington has lived in the Roanoke area for a little over two years, while Snyder has lived in Roanoke with Lezlie since 1999.
The two look forward to creating a local hang-out spot at the brewery, where they will serve their brews at a stand-up bar. Parkway will not serve food in the brewery, but Snyder and Worthington hope to attract local vendors to set up food trucks outside. They also plan to host games of shuffleboard at the bar.
When looking for a site for a small brewery, the guys looked around Roanoke, eager to get started on their fresh project. When they found the empty warehouse in Salem, though, they knew they’d found the place. Both Snyder and Worthington were pleased by the space and setting of their location, and began making plans for the space right away.
In the past, small breweries have concentrated around Asheville, N.C. When asked why they chose to build a microbrewery in Salem, the two described the City of Salem as being “good to small businesses,” and said they liked the closeness of a small and supportive community.
The brewers also referenced a recent law passed by the State of Virginia, which allows retail sales and serving of beer on the premises of craft breweries.
Parkway Brewing Company will feature several styles when they open, including their “Bridgebuilder,” a Belgian-style blonde they anticipate will have mass appeal. They will also feature a West-Coast style India Pale Ale and a Double IPA— a stronger, “hoppier” version of the standard IPA, as well as a Belgian dark Strongarm.
The brewery will feature seasonal brews to accompany their year-round staples, and the brewers plan to produce more styles of beers as the brewery grows.
Parkway will be hosting a series of “soft” openings. The two brewers look forward to launching a website for the brewery soon. For now, fans and beer enthusiasts can keep up with news and brews on their facebook page.
– By Marissa Barker, Intern