Interview with Jeff Edwards of Freefolk Brewery
Visit Fayetteville had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Edwards, founder of The Freefolk Brewery, to get to know him and learn about our new brewery in town.
Here’s a little bit about Freefolk:
Head brewer/founder Jeff Edwards and artist/co-founder Jamie Lester have been doing business together for over 15 years. Together they formed Vandalia Bronze, a sculpture firm that has produced iconic public artworks such as The Jerry West Statue, The Don Knotts Statue, and The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance. Jamie also designed the West Virginia State Quarter featuring the New River Gorge Bridge. It turns out large scale public art was not the only creative business they would explore.
In the meantime, Jeff Edwards began brewing beer in his Morgantown, WV back yard in 2014, on a 15-gallon system that he cobbled together from a few different garage sales. What started as a hobby soon turned into an obsession, as he fell in love with the process of creating beer. Soon he was making some pretty good homebrew and wanted to take his craft to a higher level. After Jeff and his wife moved to Fayetteville, WV in 2018 (home of the New River Gorge) Jeff and Jamie found a run-down little building near downtown that spoke to them. They had a vision for it that was hard for even them to see at first, but after a few years of handcrafting nearly every object in the building, it finally became the place they wanted to share with folk.
Jeff, Jamie and the Freefolk team filled the space with handcrafted steel features, wood, blacksmithing, concrete, and covered every inch of the walls with painted murals. The brewpub model is a key element at Freefolk, centering on the ability to brew and serve beer in an environment designed to be comfortable, inspiring, and fun. The craft of Jeff’s brewing has grown, blending his love for traditional English and German style ales, stouts and saisons with newer craft traditions of IPA’s, hoppy and juicy east coast style Pale Ales.
“The Freefolk Brewery is dedicated to the balance of success while also serving our community. We are focused on being a steward for the environment, and a cultural ambassador for visitors from all over the country. We are excited to show everyone what we have to offer, and how we can help to make our world a cleaner, more beautiful andtasty place,” Jeff said.
1. What brought you to this area?
My wife, Sarah and I grew up in Beckley, WV. After spending many years in Morgantown, we decided to move back to the area. My mother and her husband live in Fayetteville and Sarah’s father lives here. We both have fond memories growing up with friends and family biking, hiking and boating in the New River Gorge.
2. What makes Fayetteville the right fit for Freefolk? What was the inspiration behind Freefolk Brewery?
What makes Fayetteville the right fit for The Freefolk Brewery is the spirit foradventure and independence that exist physically and spiritually. I feel that Fayetteville represents the new West Virginia: A place where people can dream of an existence that has life/work balance. The inspiration behind the name “Freefolk” is the West Virginia state motto Montani Semper Liberi (Latin for “Mountaineers are Always Free”).
3. What inspired the menu and what are your favorite drinks and foods that you offer?
The menu is inspired by simplicity. We had help with the menu from a fellow Fayettevillespot The Wood Iron Eatery and Jeffrey Toth. We want to be a brewery that offers food. Our focus is making great beer with the understanding that food cancomplement beer. My favorite beer so far is the “There Gose the Neighborhood” paired with the Backyard Bird – chili chicken tacos. The Gose is technically difficult to make because it requires a souring stage and then a fermentation stage. The Trucker Speed IPA is fast becoming a Freefolk fan favorite. The Hook 99 – crispy fish tacos go great with the Trucker Speed IPA. There has been an emphasis on serving locally sourced meat. Pam Bailey (Five Springs Farm), Chris and Christine Jackson (Deep Mountain Farm) and Swift Level Farm have all supplied beef for our Burger Specials. We also have an espresso machine. We serve shots of espresso and Cappuccino. We are looking forward to offering beer and food pairing specials over the next few months.
4. What do you love about Fayetteville?
The ease with which you can be outdoors. After or before a brew day it is no sweat to hop on trails to bike or river to float. This ease makes us feel connected to nature. The people in Fayetteville are super CHILL. The community has been great and we feel at home here. Our staff has been great to work with and we appreciate them immensely.
5. How long have you been brewing and how did you get into it?
I have been brewing on a home brew system for the past five years. I started by making plum wine from a plum tree in my yard. WVU offered a course in brewing in 2017. It was after that class that Jamie Lester (business partner) and I decided that we could make a go of owningand operating a brewery.