Craft Beer Added to the WV Legislative Mash

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Will West Virginia give a warmer regulatory welcome to the ever-growing craft beer industry in 2015?  That’s what an interim WVU Senate committee – which includes WV Senators Bob Beach and Bob Williams – will explore in advance of the 2015 legislative session.

According to Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 81, craft beer “is a growth industry with positive public esteem and broad approval” and local breweries contribute “to the image and identity of the communities” in which they are produced.  The resolution’s lofty language on market growth is backed by convincing data from the Brewer’s Association:  in 2013, US craft beer sales increased over 17%, which is the opposite direction of overall beer sales. West Virginia, however, has seen slower growth in this market:  the state sits at #43 on the list of breweries per capita and #48 on economic impact of craft beer per capita.

Determining how to stimulate additional craft beer production and sales within the state will be discussed later this year, when the committee meets monthly for three-day sessions beginning in September. The committee will study “fees, taxation and other regulatory provisions” that impede or promote the craft beer business in the state, with plans to report its findings – and perhaps provide new or revised legislation – during the 2015 regular session.  In the meantime, WV craft beer fans should contact their local representatives. And don’t forget your consumer power:  request more craft beers at your favorite establishments and support our growing number of local breweries!

Senator Bob Beach was kind enough to send me Resolution 81, but it is also available here:


Have a Quaffable, Flavorful Fourth!

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America has never shied away from bold and even boisterous behavior.  Our declaration of independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776 set off a metaphorical show of red, white and blue fireworks that continues even today.  This courageousness has trickled down throughout the generations – and to all forms of enterprise – so that it fizzes up even within today’s pint of American craft beer.  But not all craft beer consists of punch-in-the-mouth bitterness or knock-you-down ABV; a new trend has emerged that meshes flavorful beer with a day’s worth of quaff-ability:  the session beer.

How do you differentiate between a session beer and, say, an industrial light beer? Both are low in ABV, but the session beer’s goal is to add a sparkle of taste to your day-drinking, whether in the form of hops or, as is the case in one of my suggestions below, pineapple (seriously).  And the goal is to do this without overwhelming your taste buds.  Many craft brewers have added a sessionable option to their seasonal or year round beer lineups, and expect to see more show up on shelves in the future.

As you scan the beer shelves or taplists on or in advance of your (Friday!) July 4th celebration, keep your beer goggles focused for the below beers, each of which has less than 5% ABV and has been sighted (by yours truly) in stores or establishments in Morgantown:

  • Flying Dog Easy IPA (4.7% abv):  Crisp, hoppy, with noticeable bitterness; possibly my favorite FD Offering. Available year-round in bottles and draft.
  • Morgantown Brewing Two Weeks Lager (4.7% abv):  Hops aren’t your thing? Love Lagers? Pick up a growler of this locally-made, clean-finishing treat at “The Brewpub.”
  • Southern Tier Farmer’s Tan IPA (4.6% abv): Citrusy, sweeter & less bitter than the FD. Far from my favorite ST offering, but still an easy drinker.  Bottles & draft.
  • Rivertowne Brewing (PA) Hala Kahiki Pineapple Beer (4.8% abv):  Yes, that’s right, pineapple beer. Don’t be afraid, though – unless you hate pineapple.  The tropical fruity flavor is not subtle, but this beer is surprisingly enjoyable and refreshing, and is available in cans and on draft.
  • Sierra Nevada Nooner IPA (4.8%): Another hoppy, crisp, drinkable delight. The catch? I’ve only found it as part of the “4-way IPA” mixed packs that SN is selling around town (Dear Sierra Nevada:  we need this in cans!).

Happy Fourth of July!  ‘Merica!  Cheers, and please be safe.

The Path to Craft

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In 2008, I left Morgantown on that beaten path that leads to an out-of-state job. The path was a short one that followed the Mon, and I landed due north in the wonderful City of Pittsburgh. My bags were packed full of many things, one of which was a novice’s taste for wine developed in part by access to Slight Indulgence, one of my favorite Morgantown small businesses.

But I didn’t find another Slight Indulgence in Pittsburgh, because, much to my dismay, the Commonwealth desperately clings to its control over the state’s wine and liquor stores.  The result is a limited selection at many stores, so the day I followed my husband into a beer store was the day I chose to explore a fizzy booze alternative:  craft beer.  Compared to the dust-covered “selection” available in Morgantown at the time, Pittsburgh’s craft beer scene was almost dizzying.

Flash forward to now:  life’s unexpected turns have dropped me (and my suitcase full of craft beer love) back off in Morgantown.  And while the American craft beer market explodes, the West Virginia market has been slow to respond (hampered at least in part by former legal restrictions).  Even so, options have increased during my six-year absence:  breweries such as Morgantown Brewing CompanyMountain State Brewing and Chestnut Brew Works are fixtures in town, and establishments such as Apothecary Ale House and Black Bear Burritos serve both local options, as well as selections from a few established craft breweries that have entered the WV market.

So what does the WV craft beer future hold? Consider my glass half full; the success and increased availability of local craft beers will only increase WV’s thirst for beer variety. The trend is bound to continue locally and nationally, and it’s my simple goal to help with spreading the good news.