West Virginia is coming around to the craft beer scene. Legislation will hopefully lighten up on breweries, and the number of brewers in the state is growing steadily. If you're keeping track, in West Virginia, we have:
- Basement Brewery
- Big Timber Brewing Company
- Blackwater Brewing Company
- Brewstel Microbrewery & Hostel
- Bridge Brew Works
- Charleston Brewing Company
- Chestnut Brew Works
- Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company
- Lost River Brewing Company
- Morgantown Brewing Company
- Mountain State Brewing Company
- North End Tavern & Brewery
- Wheeling Brewing Company
- Rustik Bru Brewing Company (in planning)?
A good bit of those were in attendance for West Virginia's largest craft beer festival: Rails & Ales in Huntington. Other smaller beer festivals are popping up, but this one is the largest (as far as I know) and dedicated to the beer. It's in high demand, too. This year, they had 1,500 tickets for sale, and they sold out within hours. Many, including this blogger, didn't nab one. Luckily, they did one even better for me and got me a media pass so I could check the festival out.
VIP tickets were available and allowed visitors in an hour early - from noon to 1 p.m. From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. was beer service, and by 6 p.m., the festival is over. I tried to get as many West Virginia beers as I could, because there were other domestic and international breweries available. The following breweries were on our list of attendance (and I tried most of them!)
Bridge Brew Works - I tried their "Crux" beer, which was least hoppy of the bunch. Very good.
Blackwater Brewing Company - Not there.
Chestnut Brew Works - Bill is one of my favorite people ever, I think. I tried the beer I hadn't had yet - Soma. Hoppy, but in a nice citrus way.
Charleston Brewing Company - Skipped this one because I have had it before.
Morgantown Brewing Company - Skipped this one because I have had it before.
Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company - The Wild Trail Ale was tasty.
North End Tavern - Their Cherry Saison definitely had a little cherry kick, and it was nice to finally try this place! Been on my list for a while now.
Mountain State Brewing Company - Skipped this one because I have had it before.
Big Timber - Another that has been on my to-try list for some time. I tried their blonde, which was great.
There were other U.S. Breweries, including Blue Mountain (VA), Southern Tier (NY), Rogue (OR), Sierra Nevada (CA), Harpoon (MA), Shipyard (ME), Good Island (IL), Widmer Brothers (OR), Country Boy (KY), and Great Lakes (OH).
Plus some international breweries: Ayinger (GER), Brouwerij Affiligem (BEL), Brouwerij Van Honsebrouk (BEL), Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven (NL), Brouwerij Van Steenberge (BEL), Brouwerij De Brabandere (BEL), Meantime (UK), and Weihenstephan (GER).
Restaurants: Black Sheep Burritos and Brews, La Famiglia, River and Rail Bakery, Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar, and University Giovanni's Pizza. I DID get to try one, and I'll post about that later.
In addition to the local beer, I had a nice pumpkin beer, an awesome sour beer and a few others from outside of the area.
If you didn't get a chance to go, be on the lookout for when they announce next year's festival and be ready to get your tickets super early - like, within the hour they announce. It's a really cool event to try all of our state's beers in one place, meet fellow beer-lovers and support a growing industry.
TL;DR Super cool event in West Virginia that celebrates local beer. Go.