As West Virginia’s craft beer industry continues to draw attention, more regional breweries are braving the steep hills and steep mountains of paperwork to bring their wares to the state. On Wednesday January 11th, Thirsty Dog Brewing celebrated their first pour in West Virginia at Morgantown’s Apothecary Ale House & Cafe.

Located in Akron, OH., Thirsty Dog has been brewing for nearly 20 years. Prior to arriving in West Virginia, the brewery was cleared to distribute in ten other states, including West Virginia border states like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Maryland. The process of receiving approval to distribute in West Virginia took the brewery over a year to complete.


“The state’s old liquor laws meant that we only had one beer that we could legally sell in West Virginia.” explained John Najeway, Co-Owner of Thirsty Dog. Those laws legally defined beer as having an abv of 6% or less, a throwback to the state’s attempts to bypass prohibition restrictions on alcohol. As West Virginia’s alcohol laws have modernized, more breweries have looked to expand their market into the state. “We just received approval to distribute about two weeks ago. Our beer often traveled through West Virginia to get to other states for sale. It makes a lot of sense to be able to distribute in a neighboring state.”

Thirsty Dog Brewing’s distinctive bone shaped tap handles stand out among the Apothecary’s many beer options.

Najeway and the Thirsty Dog team were very happy with the turnout for their first pour. “We received a warm welcome from you guys” said Najeway.  “Morgantown has a nice mix of craft beer bars and retailers, and we’re excited to be here. You’ve got the right demographic of grad and post-grad drinkers, lots of legal age drinkers. Morgantown is the right kind of community for a craft brewery to target.”

Co-Owner Najeway has family in the area, and has enjoyed many of the region’s outdoor recreation options. “We’re especially excited to launch our first canned beer option, our Citra Dog IPA, which will arrive in April” shares Najeway. “Cans are much easier to pack and take with you, especially when you’re going out for a day on whitewater.”

Interview Edited for Clarity and Content

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