Aug 07

Weathered Ground Brewery breaks ground in Cool Ridge

By Jordan Nelson – Register-Herald Reporter – Aug 6, 2017

A good omen for groundbreaking day.

Weathered Ground Brewery, located on a high-country 30-acre farm in Cool Ridge, has been a brewery-in-planning for two years. Saturday, it officially opened its doors, offering that distinct craft beer taste to anticipating locals. A joint effort between husband and wife, Sam and Aryn Fonda decided they wanted to move back near Aryn’s childhood home of Daniels, and search for the craft beer business opportunity. “We had been living in Charlotte, N.C., for the past six years,” Aryn Fonda said. “We wanted to move back to where I grew up, and after having our daughter, Willa, we finally did so.”

Aryn said she and her husband found a farm in Cool Ridge, and decided not only to open up a brewery, but to live on the property as well. “Growing up here, I have a special connection with this place, and we wanted to bring something to southern West Virginia that we thought many people would love.” Aryn’s husband Sam worked at two breweries in Charlotte in the past, so they were able to transfer their knowledge of the subject into their own business. “We wanted to do our own thing, and this is something we have always been interested in,” she said. “We have wanted to grow organically for a number of years and use those items for our brews.”

With Winterplace Ski Resort just up the road from the brewery, both Sam and Aryn hope during the winter season Weathered Ground will be an attraction to tourists. “There are so many outdoor opportunities out within this area,” she said. “We are hoping to expand that even more with our brewery to not only locals, but to the people that come and visit the state.”

(Brad Davis/The Register-Herald) Patrons hang out in the main pub area during the grand opening celebration for the Weathered Ground Brewery Saturday afternoon in Cool Ridge.

Carter Lewis, of Charlotte, N.C., drove to Cool Ridge for the brewery opening. He said he did not want to miss out on the event. “I’ve heard that the brew master, one of the owners, is actually from Charlotte as well, so it’s really something to learn that he’s bringing his knowledge here,” Lewis said. “I think this will do something great for this small community,” he said, while sipping one of the many brews available at the facility. “So far, every one of the beers taste really good.”

Sam Fonda said the brewery plans to hire only local employees. “We want to provide opportunities for people around here, and we don’t want to stray away from that.” Sam said the idea for the name Weathered Ground came to him and Aryn once they learned of the history of the land. “A lot of animals were raised out here, and a couple of generations of families lived out here as well,” he said. “We believe the property is weathered by people and nature, and it was a name that stuck and had meaning.” Sam explained his nervousness about opening something new in the area, and said sometimes the anxiety sets in. “We have a few panic attacks every now and again,” he said with a laugh. “But we are confident in the beer we make, and we are confident in the type of people we are. All we really want to do is bring something cool to the area, and we really hope it works out.”

Within a barn-like building, the dining area of Weathered Ground houses spacious seating, high ceilings and a full-size bar on the back wall, offering several brews, coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages. During the grand opening Saturday, local musical favorite The Kind Thieves, along with Vessel, a band based out of Louisville, Ky., performed to customers outdoors at the back fields of the brewery, where picnic tables are placed all around. Customers were able to enjoy a cold brew indoors, or take their brew outdoors to enjoy music and company.

Aryn said she and her husband found a farm in Cool Ridge, and decided not only to open up a brewery, but to live on the property as well.

Christina Wright, of Oak Hill, said she had heard some buzzing about the new brewery and wanted to come check it out for herself. “I’m highly impressed,” Wright said. “There’s breweries in the Fayetteville and Lewisburg area, but they’re all usually closed off to the public, nothing like this.” Wright said she thinks Weathered Grounds will be a big plus to not just the Cool Ridge area, but throughout the state as a whole. “I really enjoy these types of venues, and I will definitely continue to come back.”

Aryn said since they have just opened, their food menu will be based on simple, more snack-related items. “We have some really good snacks people will want to try out, though,” she said. “We’re going to have chicken salad sliders, pepperoni rolls, just a lot of finger foods.” She said if the brewery progresses and expands as she and Sam hope, they will expand their menu with more lunch and dinner items.

For now, hours for Weathered Ground are Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. Aryn said those hours might expand as more staff becomes available. “We’re just really excited to finally be open, and we hope it’s a big hit.”

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