Parkway Brewing Company – Picture Perfect So Far, Great Beer To Come.
A passion for creating sensory rich experiences is an integral part of, if not at the absolute heart, of craft brewing. Treats for the eye and nose as well as the mouth flow from breweries on a daily basis. Visit most any brewery and you’re likely to find souls hard at work, who, on any given day, are busy finding new ways to stretch the boundaries of taste and aroma with their ales and lagers, while also making them uniquely their own. At the new and soon to be open Parkway Brewing in Salem, Virginia, it’s obvious that such artistic and creative spirit resides within their building’s walls – and that’s before you even reach the front door.
Gracing a large section of the front of the main building is a beautiful and fanciful mural, complete with mountain streams flowing into a larger body, all not of water, but – you guessed it – beer. A gently drawn, graceful looking figure sits on a river bank, pouring ale out from a large vessel, as the sun beams down overhead. Needless to say, it’s enough to make you more than a little thirsty. It’s also so much more than any “normal” welcome sign on the front of a brewery could ever hope to be. It incites a sense of curiosity and wonder. It’s also a signal that other grand creations are likely to be found behind the wall on which it is painted. As calmingly majestic as the mural is, a quick look at the beers which Parkway intends to release in the coming months means no one is going to get caught spending all of their time in the parking lot. The beer coming our way simply sounds too good.
Of course, the brewery isn’t quite open yet. But a glimpse at some of the styles with which the brewery plans to launch itself with, and those which might follow thereafter shows a brewery full of ideas – and one not willing to develop one or two “flagship” beers and stop there. The four styles planned for launch are an IPA, an Imperial IPA, a Belgian Blonde style ale, and a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. Belgian and other classically European styles also seem to figure predominantly into styles to follow. Ryan Worthington, Parkway’s Brewmaster, is looking into developing a Saison, a Biere de Garde, an Altbier, a Witbier, and a Dark Mild Ale. All together, it’s an impressive list style wise, stretching from the purely American craft beer end of the spectrum, with the Imperial IPA, to the classic European styles, such as the Saison. It’s certainly one that seems to back up Parkway’s tag line on their facebook page, which describes the brewery as one “specializing in complex ales for the discriminating beer enthusiast.”
Parkway’s anticipated opening is still on for late fall to early winter. Until then, the mural may be the only visible evidence of Parkway Brewing’s existence. But the mystical and somehow calming, idyllic setting which it depicts, one in which the sun and the moon share the sky simultaneously overtop a body of ale and a deeply rooted tree stands on a hillside under which hang pint glasses of beer ready for the picking, seems to be the perfect representation of the world of craft brewing in painted form – one of rich, full sensory experiences. If such a glorious depiction on the outside of the brewery gives even the slightest hint at what Parkway Brewing is capable of, beer wise, behind that wall – and I feel pretty sure it does – we’re in for quite a few of these experiences to come.
Note: The amazing mural, by the way, was painted by none other than Brewmaster Ryan Worthington’s wife, Jessica.