Thought of in 2013, brought to fruition in 2014, and named the West Virginia Beer Festival of the year a mere eight years later, Mountaineer Brewfest has become an end-of-summer staple for craft beer lovers. Who wouldn’t want to end their summer surrounded by delicious food, local and live music, and of course, a wide variety of craft beers from many of the greatest breweries in the state of West Virginia? This year’s celebration of all things beer will take place this Saturday, August 19 at Wheeling Heritage Port.
Founder and president Jeff Hayes is local to Wheeling and works as a consultant for a data integration company whilst operating as the founder and president of Mountaineer Brewfest. Throughout the last decade, Hayes has seen the festival grow immensely. “At the end of every year, we account for approximately 1900-2000 attendants. Last year saw 2100 in attendance.” In addition to the growth of the festival, its philanthropic efforts have reached over $166,000 since its inception. The proceeds of the festival, as well as tips collected in the beer garden, continue to benefit charities in the area. This year, proceeds will support Family Services–Upper Ohio Valley, an organization that supports the Senior Meals on Wheels program that serves seniors in both Ohio and Marshall counties.
This year’s festival has over 50 local sponsors operating in a variety of capacities, whether supporting brewers directly or sponsoring through media and distribution. For the ninth year in a row, the Brewfest’s title sponsor is the Wheeling Island Racetrack and Casino. “We’re able to get together to promote West Virginia craft beer,” states Hayes. The options are unique to West Virginia as every single brewery and cidery represented is located in our state.
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The layout of the Brewfest, with vendors located all throughout the waterfront winding to a beer garden that boasts four distributors offering over 50 additional domestic craft beers, lends itself to a truly collective experience. “It allows for a social event. Some of my favorite memories are getting to know the brewers, working with them, and having fun with them enjoying great craft beer,” states Hayes.
VIP and general entry tickets are available through Instagram, Facebook, or by visiting mountaineerbrewfest.com. Aside from craft beer and various food trucks, music will be offered throughout the day beginning with The Hooch during the VIP hour, followed by Spinning Jenny at 4:30 p.m., Sydney Mack at 6:30 p.m., and Liquid A closing out the mainstage beginning at 8:30 p.m.
•Karin Butyn was born and raised in Wheeling, WV. A graduate of Wheeling Central, West Liberty University, and Wheeling Jesuit University, Karin spent nearly a decade teaching both English as Second Language and Reading Language Arts. She is currently in her third year as an Assistant Principal for Ohio County Schools. In her free time, she enjoys running and music. She and her husband, TJ, are raising their young sons, Finn and Watson, in Warwood.