The Greenbrier Valley is well-known for its variety of local small businesses, including a handful of privately owned breweries and distilleries that have burst onto the scene in recent years.
Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company is the home of award-winning West Virginia craft beers Devil Anse IPA, Mothman Black IPA and Wild Trail Pale Ale, along with an ever-changing selection of small batches for every occasion.
The Maxwelton-based company just announced the next special occasion to be commemorated in its cans and kegs will be LGBTQ Pride month which occurs each June.
Inspired by one of the earliest known transgender people in the Greenbrier Valley, Maynard Best is a brand-new brew created exclusively for Greenbrier Valley Pride (GVP), an organization committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and visible community for LGBTQ+ people in the Greenbrier Valley area.
Formed in June 2021, GVP hosts different events and meet-ups to grow the LGBTQ+ community’s network and facilitate safe events. GVP is a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting for and preserving LGBTQ+ rights in the Greenbrier Valley and West Virginia.
The new GVP signature beer was named after Maynard Best, known as one of two early transgender people in the Greenbrier Valley. Maynard Best will be served exclusively at local venues in Lewisburg throughout the week-long Pride festival.
On Monday, the brewery invited members of the GVP and its allies to help mill and mix the ingredients for Maynard Best. The beer is fermenting now and will be served to the hundreds of attendees expected to attend Pride events next month.
It took less than 30 days to organize last year’s surprisingly successful Pride event. More than 500 people attended to help build a stronger LGBTQ+ community in the Greenbrier Valley. Last year’s success has given organizers the enviable problem of making this year’s event even better.
GVP treasurer Molly Arbogast hopes the addition of the Maynard Best brew will promote Pride in the community and legitimize the event.
“This collaboration with the brewery was actually something that they [GBVBC] came to us with, which is so incredible,” said Arbogast. “They had an idea for a Trailblazer series for its June trailblazers and they wanted to honor Pride.”
Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company head brewer Kandyce Kirk said Maynard Best’s flavor profile will be appropriately unique.
“It is going to be strawberry lemonade sour,” she said. “Summertime is really nice for sours, and strawberries are coming into season, so I figured it was the best thing to do; and it’ll be pink, so it’ll be pretty.”
Greenbrier Valley Pride president, Kelsie Tyson said, “There are many colorful and very recognizable people in my small town, but Maynard Best was a true trailblazer and we really wanted to honor that courageous spirit.”
According to the Greenbrier Historical Society, Maynard Best was born Mae Best in May 1868 to Ellery and Jennie Best in Pennsylvania. The Best family was very involved in Ronceverte, where Ellery Best served on the Ronceverte City Council and helped establish the first Ronceverte Fire Department.
Tyson hopes the addition of Maynard Best, along with several new events and activities throughout the week, will not just generate buzz for Pride week but also create lasting inclusion for a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and groups, races, religious beliefs, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation and gender identity in the community.
“By providing a venue where diverse perspectives, cultures and values are accepted, appreciated and celebrated, it’s our goal to make diversity something to celebrate more than once a year,” she said.
The first public tasting of Maynard Best will take place during Pride Bazaar held June 10 at Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company.
Greenbrier Valley Brewing has been manufacturing diverse brands of popular beers in the region since 2014. The popularity of its products grew so quickly that it seems like an overnight success.
Alexander Durand has served as director of brewing operations for two years. In this capacity, he develops and oversees the brewery’s entire production program. In his opinion, the recipe for the brewery’s success has been simple.
“I’ve worked on making it so every single beer tells the story of West Virginia. So all of our beers are based on folklore and historical events,” he said.
Durand is a big believer in beer’s ability to bring communities together and uniting like-minded souls who may have never encountered one another without it. According to Durand, that’s why Greenbrier Valley Brewing company has intentionally picked some of the most colorful local characters, such as Maynard Best, to commemorate.
As Durand explains, having a wide variety of products is just as important to the brewing business as having people from different backgrounds and cultures.
“We want to change the dialogue and the perception of West Virginia. And I’ve just made it a personal mission of doing it one beer at a time.”
For more information about the upcoming GVP events, visit www.greenbriervalleypride.com.
|Employees of Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company and Greenbrier Valley Pride members and supporters at the Maynard Best brew day on May 23. Photo credit: Jim Shock|
|Brewery employees, community members, and Pride supporters enjoy a meal after spending the day making June’s specialty beer, Maynard Best, named for one of the Greenbrier Valley’s earliest known transgender people. Photo credit: Jim Shock|
|The Maynard Best brew begins to ferment. Photo credit: Jim Shock|