Just a few miles off Route 19, and a couple of minutes from downtown, Freefolk is located in the beautiful Fayetteville, West Virginia. Once voted the “Coolest Small Town in America”, Fayetteville is known for its white water rafting, zip-lining, amazing local eateries, beautiful hiking spots like Endless Wall and Beauty Mountain, and of course, the New River Gorge Bridge.
Freefolk is nestled alongside a typical WV road – small, pretty, and sometimes boring – but the brewery is anything but! A steel statue stands over the limited roadside parking area, and the outside of this modern brewery is covered in art work from local artists. When you step inside, the artwork and murals continue alongside every wall of the building. According to their website, the founder and cofounder of The Freefolk Brewery had previously formed Vandalia Bronze, a sculpture firm, where they produced statues of the West Virginia icons Jerry West and Don Knotts. The cofounder, Jamie Lester, also designed the WV State Quarter which features the New River Gorge Bridge.
The brewer, Jim Way, met me on my way into town and took me to Kobe in Fayetteville, WV to eat some sweet potato sushi and tofu Pad Thai noodles. Way talked about the brewing process, and I’ll be honest – it was so much more scientific and precise than I imagined. He went over the parts of the tank, the cleaning process, and how they use large medical-grade oxygen tanks to aid in yeast health but how oxidized beer can produce a stale and identifiably strange-tasting batch.
I was in town for the Freefolk Maple Fest and BBQ, and a winter bonfire for “burning away the winter blues”. And let’s face it – we all need a little help showing this dark and dreary winter the proverbial door. Freefolk was featuring some local maple syrup on-site that day. Blossom Hill Farm out of Victor, WV, had mason jars of their maple syrup, but they also provide maple water that is used in Freefolk’s Hickory Horn Devil. Lost Ridge Farms out of Fairdale, WV, also had a booth with fresh eggs, maple syrup, and maple sugar (which I had never used, but bought a bag to try!). I use maple syrup as a sweetener in so many recipes, specifically my favorite sugar-free dairy-free “nice” cream, so I was excited to buy some local maple syrup (and sugar!) to take home with me. If you’re interested, you can find some of my other anti-inflammatory recipes on my www.painfreejourney.com blog.
Freefolk was also offering a pop-up kitchen dining experience showcasing Chef Todd Perry originally from Asheville, North Carolina, and his Bon-Fire-It-Up menu which had wings, BBQ burger sliders, and brisket tacos. Way, the brewer, explained the pop-up kitchen trend to me. Freefolk provides their full-service kitchen to chefs for a pop-up event which gives local talent a kitchen in the established brewery. It’s a low-cost and low-maintenance solution for local chefs to share options from their menu with the community. Chefs who don’t have the traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant are choosing the now trending pop-up restaurant option all over the country. Additionally, this offers the Freefolk patrons and local community members access to an array of chefs serving up a variety of cuisine throughout the year. I typically live a plant-based and vegetarian lifestyle, but took a break for the brisket tacos (because “when in Rome”, right?) and was not disappointed. Everyone else must have agreed because Chef Todd ran out of food before nightfall.
I was able to find an Airbnb just minutes up the road and wanted to stay overnight so I could enjoy hiking with friends the following day. If you want to come to Fayetteville to enjoy everything the “coolest small town in America” has to offer, I definitely recommend stopping by Freefolk, and the Airbnb I chose is a pretty sweet deal. Although it was only 22 degrees and snowing on the day of my visit, there’s a nice little outdoor patio area that would be perfect for a hot day and an ice-cold Freefolk beer, so I’ll definitely be returning in the Spring.
You can find footage from this visit, along with more fun West Virginia spots, on the Wild and Wanderin’ YouTube Channel. Join us on Instagram for some photos and videos from our travels and some of our work along the way.
Christie was born and raised in West Virginia and has worked for 20 years in the tech business as a programmer and designer, dabbling in her love of photography and videography along the way. She currently works as a programmer for clients located across the East Coast and blogs for Wild and Wanderin’ travel blog. She also writes for Hill Tree Roastery, works as a Designer/Animator for Apocalypse Gaming, LLC, and is a publisher / content creator for Pain-Free Journey, and WV Weird.