Category Archives: Craft Beer

Articles on craft beer and breweries in and around West Virginia

Hightower Brewing opens in Ohio near Wheeling

His name is Greg Whiting, but he says most people know him by Hightower because of his 6′ 7″ and 300 lb. size. As you can guess, that’s where he got the name for the brewery.

Hightower Brewing Company opens today at Rayland, Ohio, which sits near the Ohio River about 10 miles north of Wheeling, WV. It promises to be a tall addition to the local brewing scene.

Hightower Brewing Company

As a brewery pioneer in his area of the Ohio Valley, Whiting has been thinking about founding a brewery for a while.

“About 6 years ago I realized there was better beer in the world and started getting into craft beer,” he said. “I used to go to some local bottle shops on the weekend and would spend a lot of money on beer. So I got to thinking one day about brewing beer.”

He started with 5-gallon extract kits and fell in love with the process.

Grain ready for brewing

“I quickly upgraded to a three vessel, all-grain setup doing 10 gallon batches. I was just doing it for fun, though, but eventually I got into building recipes and doing competitions.”

Once he started doing well with brewing, the idea of starting a brewery came to him.

“I figured if there is ever a time to take a chance in my life it’s now when I’m 30, instead of 50,” he explained.

So he founded Hightower Brewing Company. He is starting out with a  2-bbl electric brewhouse. He has 5 fermenters, 1 brite tank and a small canning line. He is kegging and canning all his beer.

Initially, he  plans to start self-distributing to a handful of small stores in the area with hopes to grow.

“I’m opening with five beers,” he said.

He has a Double IPA, IPA, Porter, Pale Ale, and Blonde Ale. Coming over the next few months will be a New England IPA, Amber Ale, Wheat beer, Imperial stout, and Pumpkin Ale.

Hightower Brewing

Hightower is a to-go brewery only, with no on-site consumption. It offers 6 packs, mixed 6 packs, 32 and 64 ounce growlers and growler fills, as well as 1/6th barrel kegs.

The brewery will have a few specials for opening weekend. If you buy a growler and get it filled, you get a pub glass or can glass for free. Also if you buy two cases of canned beer, you get a free shirt.

Brilliant Stream welcomes Hightower Brewing Company to our upper Ohio Valley region. Let’s get over to see Greg Whiting and give his brews a try.

Hightower Brewing Company
3445 County Road 16
(Near Route 7)
Rayland, Ohio
Phone: (740) 859-0764

More information at the brewery website.

All photos in this article provided by Greg Whiting.

WV Craft Brew Festival announces competition winners

The WV Craft Brew Festival announced the award winners from last Saturday’s beer competition. Held in Lewisburg at the State Fairgrounds, the festival included a competition for West Virginia-made beer from commercial breweries.

“For a first-time event, we thought the WV Craft Brew Festival was a huge success,” said Kelly Collins, one of the lead festival organizers. “We ended up with over 1,400 people on grounds, and 66 craft beers from 13 breweries around the state of West Virginia. We are very excited to make this an annual event here in the Greenbrier Valley.”

wv craft brew festival

The judging

At the festival, breweries entered a selection of their beers into one of three categories to see who the panel of judges would rate as the best. Beers were divided into Light, Dark, and Specialty divisions and then competed against the others in the division. An overall Best of Show was also selected from among the division winners. All judging was done blind so that the judges did not know whose beer they were tasting.

The winners

The Petite Rye Saison from Bad Shepherd Beer was crowned grand champion as it took home the Best of Show award. It won the Light division. Festival beer judge Jeff McKay, owner of two premier craft beer outlets in Huntington, was impressed with the beer.

“I judged the Light category so I was lucky enough to judge the overall winner, Bad Shepherd Petite Rye Saison,” McKay said. “It was a very solid entry. The three of us in the group had only positive comments about it.”

Bad Shepherd also picked up first place in the Specialty Division for its The Loud IPA. The brewery had a good day.

Festival beer judge Rob Absten, from Charleston, felt a couple of the other entries really stood out as well.

“The Petit Rye Saison was the category winner,” Absten said, “but the Ipaetus Gose from Bridge Brew Works was a very good, refreshing take on that unusual style. Bright, effervescent, and with enough of a savory quality to offset the tartness.

“And the Dark beer division winner, a Cascadian Dark Ale, or Black IPA, from Parkersburg Brewing was dead-on to style — well bittered but balanced, with just enough roast notes  make it stand out from a standard IPA.”

Judging was led by long-time beers judges Jane & David Zalewski of Chesapeake, Ohio. David Zalewski also serves a treasurer of the Greater Huntington Homebrewers Association and Jane is club president.

Here are all the winners:

Light Division

1st – Petite Rye Saison, Bad Shepard Beer Company
2nd – Iapetus Gose, Bridge Brew Works
3rd – Logger Lager, Big Timber Brewing Company

Dark Division

1st – From Ash & Amber Cascadian Dark, Parkersburg Brewing Co.
2nd – Black Diamond Lager, Bridge Brew Works
3rd – 80 Shilling Scotch Ale, Morgantown Brewing Company

Specialty Division

1st – The Loud IPA – Bad Shepard Brewing Company
2nd – Double Bit IPA – Big Timber Brewing Co.
3rd – Double Dubbel Bourbon Barrel – Bridge Brew Works
Honorable Mention – Smoke Hole Lager, Chestnut Brew Works –

Best of Show

Petite Rye Saison, Bad Shepard Beer Company

The festival and competition were sponsored by the State Fair of West Virginia and the Lewisburg Rotary. All profits from the festival went to their respective foundations to support scholarship funds.