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Beers and banjos

May 24, 2019 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Like baseball’s spring training, area craft beer lovers are going to be able to hone their skills before the big game.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your beer drinking engines to prep for Huntington’s flagship super-sized August brewfest, Rails and Ales, with a fun-sized spring brew fest this Saturday at Heritage Station.

Now up to bat, in its second year, Taps at Heritage Station is hosting BrewGrass, a tasty blend of more than 70 mostly regional craft brews, some food trucks such as Southside Sliders, as well as a steady stream of live acoustic string band, bluegrass and country music from Moonshine Crossing, Sour Mash String Band, and Matt Petty and the Whiskey Chasers.

BrewGrass runs from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 25, at Heritage Station, 210 11th St., Huntington. Music and beer vendors will be in the gazebo area while more beer and food vendors will be along a closed off 11th Street.

Tickets are $40 through www.eventbrite.com. Only 500 tickets will be sold for the rain or shine event, with 10 tents available should there be some liquid sunshine. VIP tickets allow for a noon entry. Festival organizer, Ray Frye, who owns and operates Taps at Heritage Station, said in spite of rain and many other events, the first year for BrewGrass went so well that they had to go back for seconds.

“It was Cinco de Mayo and Marshall graduation and it rained a bit, but we still had more than 340 people and over 50 craft beers,” Frye said. “We feel like this is kind of the same thing we do with Taps is try to create an experience. We don’t want this to go over 500 people. The feedback we got last year was

keep it this size. It is comfortable and manageable and we like it.”

Frye said they’ve got eight tents along 11th Street alone and they are ready for any weather come Saturday.

“If the weather switches we can shove everything under the tents,” Frye said.

As far as beer vendors, Frye said they will have a good number of West Virginia breweries including Weathered Ground, Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company, and, of course, the Jewel City’s only brewery, The Peddler.

Fresh off of a gold medal win at the West Virginia Craft Beer Festival for best specialty brew for its Roobus, a blackberry wheat ale, The Peddler will be bringing over four seasonal brews. Those brews will be the Snake Charmer Lager, Smash Bros. Pikachu (Session IPA), Bearded Lady Blonde and the Boogercat Blonde.

Frye said they are also cherry picking some of the new breweries to come into the Mountain State including the red-hot Scottish brewery that is now global, BrewDog, as well as Ithaca Brewing, which just came to the Mountain State in the past couple weeks.

“We’re going to have a nice mix of West Virginia breweries and some new breweries that have just come into the state,” Frye said.

While there will be a chance to take a sip on the dark side (stouts and porters), Frye said mostly there will be summer seasonal types of beers such as Hefeweizens, blond ales, lagers, Pilsners and those on the lighter side.

Frye said they made a change from last year, and will have four or five beer stations up by the music.

“We’re going to try to make it more quaint bringing people into the music and that will make people move around,” Frye said.

Food vendors for the fest will be Moonlight Cookies, Boonedini, Southside Sliders and Abby Shae Bakes.

The fest will also be providing water hydration stations as well. LaFontaine’s will be back to sell cigars at the fest and there will be some other vendors as well.

After BrewGrass, there will be an after party on the Taps patio deck that is tucked behind one of the rail cars at the former C&O train station. The after party will feature live music from Barry and Noah Frazee from 7 to 9 p.m.

Frye said that folks loved the setting at Heritage Station, which was the birthplace for Huntington’s now big-city-sized Rails and Ales which started at Heritage Station before out-growing the spot and moving across the Boulevard to Harris Riverfront Park.

“We’re excited for it, and we wanted to keep it kind of quaint,” Frye said. “Last year we had three bluegrass and oldtime bands and an Americana band and we think that bluegrass movement really jells with the craft beer movement. They seem to pair up quite well. Most people came for the beer but those people love live music too. With Heritage Station being so old and historic we wanted to keep with that theme and the bluegrass music really fits at Heritage Station.”

Go online at https://www.facebook.com/TapsatHeritage/for more info about BrewGrass.