Troy Freels is a busy man these days. In addition to his family life and a full-time job, he has also recently opened a beer-lover’s paradise – a beertopia, if you will – right outside of Morgantown’s Greenmont neighborhood. The demands on his schedule have been intense. “It’s overwhelming at times, but we’re managing,” he tells me after serving up a seasonal brew.
Also overwhelming: the sheer quantity of options. Beertopia not only has 16 drafts, but more than 150 bottles and an entire brewing supply shop. The location is sizeable – large enough for the long bar, a number of tables, a darts/cornhole area, lots of coolers and the supply counter. The atmosphere is laid back and the jukebox plays at a lower volume, which Troy says was an effort to make sure customers didn’t have to scream over music or televisions to interact with each other.
Local and regional beers are a big focus for Beertopia, stocking one whole kegerator of West Virginia brews and another of regionals. Troy says that both Morgantown and the state are poised to join the craft brewing renaissance that has been occurring throughout the surrounding region. An important part of that process will be introducing the people of West Virginia to beer that is already made here.
“For a lot of small breweries, unless you visit their taproom or go to their regional city, you can’t experience them,” he points out. “There’s only a handful that are even bottling and distributing across the state. I think we have 21 breweries in the state, and a lot of people couldn’t name more than 5 or 6.”
When the Brockway Avenue location came available, he knew it was perfect: it already had walk-in coolers, a keg room and enough space for the location to be everything he wanted it to be. Beertopia has now been open for less than two months, yet I get the impression that the idea of a place like it has been brewing in the back of Troy’s mind for a long time.
“ I feel like you can spend the first part of your life afraid to fail, then spend the second part of your life regretting you never tried. You start sitting back and thinking, ‘I never really did the things that I daydreamed about. Maybe it’s time to make the jump.’ ”
The jump was ambitious. He wasn’t sure what to call the new venture, and solicited a friend for advice. He explained that he wanted to deal in everything related to beer. “I want people to come in for homebrewing, for a pick six, for single bottles, drafts, flights, kegs,” he explained. “I just want it to be a whole beertopia…”
“There’s your name right there,” his friend responded.
If you’re a craft beer lover in Morgantown, Troy’s dream is definitely worth checking out. Stop in for a pint, throw some darts, have a pepperoni roll, or maybe even pick up a home brewing kit as a last-minute holiday gift.
Best of all, you can walk out with West Virginia brews that would otherwise require hours of driving to get your hands on. Let West Virginia’s beer renaissance begin.