Rails and Ales Festival to bring craft brews to Huntington

Beer kegs were brought in by the truck load Friday in preparation for the festival. (WCHS/WVAH)

Saturday several tents at Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park will be filled with people and flowing with beer of almost every imaginable taste, color, and consistency.

Organizers like Jessica Pressman have spent a long time putting the annual festival together.

"It's a historic 2 session beer festival,” Pressman said, “and it's also historic because it's the largest gathering of West Virginia Breweries in the History of West Virginia."

More than 250 hand-made craft beers, not all from West Virginia, will be poured in an afternoon and evening session.

Pressman said the festival was created by craft beer enthusiasts to push the industry into West Virginia.

“We wanted to grow the craft beer scene in Huntington," she said.

It has worked, opening the door for businesses like Summit Beer Station on 9th street.

Owner Jeff McKay says interest in craft beer has steadily increased in his small pub and across the state.

"It's a way to connect to the industry," he said.

According to the Better Beer Coalition, 24 breweries run in the state which is up from 11 just two years ago. In 2014, they said, craft beer contributed more than 200 million bucks to the state economy.

"We get people who are new to craft beer and then suddenly we see them two three times a week," McKay said.

McKay said there is still a lot of room to grow.

He said the state will not truly capitalize on the craft beer sensation until enthusiasts travel cross country to get a taste of Mountain State beer.

"Craft beer is not unlike many other industries in West Virginia,” McKay said, “we're about 7 to 10 years behind other states."

Rails and Ales first session opens at noon, and the second runs from 6P.M. to 10P.M.

Tickets can be purchased online here until the festival begins, and at the door for a higher price.

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