Hops & Heat has evolved into a really sweet little craft beer festival. Put on as a fundraiser for Charleston Main Street’s East End programs, it’s hard to think of a more entertaining neighborhood festival than this.
Hops & Heat combines West Virginia and Appalachian region craft beer with a chili competition featuring all local chefs. The roughly 500 attendees sampled beer and chili, while they for shopped local crafts and listened to regional bands for four hours on Saturday afternoon (10-21-17). The East End Bazaar venue was blessed with great weather and lots of good beer.
West Virginia breweries represented included Big Timber, Pubstomper, Screech Owl, Bad Shepherd, Brewstel, Bridge Brew Works, Wheeling Brewing, Mountain State, Parkersburg Brewing, Sophisticated Hound, Lost River, Weathered Ground, North End Tavern, The Peddler Brewpub, Morgantown Brewing, and Greenbrier Valley. A lot of the beers poured at the festival are rarely, if ever, seen on Charleston taps. Additionally, breweries from the surrounding region states of Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina were there. Those sending actual brewery representatives were Stone Brewing. New Belgium Brewing, and Country Boy Brewing. It’s great seeing them supporting craft beer sales in our state.
Uncommonly good beer
Speaking of beer, here are some of my personal highlights for the day from West Virginia breweries.
Líquido Fundido by Pubstomper Brewing Company, Morgantown – This small batch Mexican Hot Chocolate Imperial Stout was top notch. The luscious 10% ABV Imperial Stout was flavored with habeñeros, cacao nibs, vanilla, and cinnamon. The Pubstomper guys hit the center of the target with this one. I helped judge the chili beer competition and this one was the unanimous gold medal choice of all four judges. Based on its overwhelmingly positive reception at the festival, the brewery may produce a larger batch for release in February. Watch for it.
Tequila-Barrel Aged Iapetus Gose by Bridge Brew Works, Fayetteville – I heard more than a few beer drinkers comment that it doesn’t taste like beer, and I think that’s pretty accurate. TBA Iapetus Gose is an absolutely beautiful beverage that truly nails downs one beautiful scene from craft beer’s contemporary landscape. Brewer Adam Herrold’s talent for making tart beer and for selecting the right type spirits barrel to age it in are a masterful stroke. Light, tart and lemony, a hint of slat, no perceptible hops, with just a kiss of tequila’s unique flavor and smoky quality from the barrel, the brew is about as far away from pilsner or IPA as you could get. It is a great example of how contemporary craft brewers are expanding the craft beer envelope to areas beer never went before. And in this case, it’s a very good place.
Hop Harvest Autumn IPA by Big Timber Brewing Company, Elkins – For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed this brewery’s Wet Hop ale made with all local hops from Spring Water Farm in Fairview, WV (Marion County). With this Hop Harvest Autumn IPA however, Big Timber has taken WV-hopped beer a big, tasty step forward. The beer was a show stopper for me. I have never had a West Virginia hopped IPA that tasted this good. Using all 2017 harvest Cascade and Chinook hops from Spring Water Farm, head brewer Matt Kwasniewski has produced a winner. Due to the fleeting nature of citrusy hop flavors, I highly recommend you drink this beer now, while it is very fresh in order to get the lovely WV hop signature.
Struggle Street Breakfast Stout (Batch 2) by Weathered Ground Brewery, Cool Ridge — If you thought Batch 1 of Struggle Street was a good beer, then you will want to try Batch 2. The beautiful coffee aroma is killer, so much more intense and attractive than the first batch. Overall, the beer has superb balance giving you everything you want in a breakfast stout: coffee, toast, and a little caramelized brown sugar delivered with a creamy mouthfeel. Weathered Ground brews this beer with variety of dark malts and oats and ages it on freshly roasted whole coffee beans from The Chocolate Moose in Beckley, WV. Whatever tweaks brewer Sam Fonda made from Batch 1 to Batch 2 really worked out to produce an outstanding beer. Like dry-hopped beers, coffee beers are at their best when fresh, before the coffee flavors begin to change and fade, so drink it now if you can find it.
Hops & Heat Photo Gallery
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