CRAFT DRINK EXPLORER: How to Be a West Virginia Craft Beer Enthusiast in 5 Easy Steps

Aaron Rote, Craft Drink Explorer

First off, let me be the first to congratulate you on your decision to become a West Virginia craft beer enthusiast. You have spent so much time being enthusiastic about so many other things, like your cats, or wooden shoes, or small-engine aircraft. It’s honestly just nice to see you be enthusiastic about something that really matters: namely, delicious craft beer brewed within the borders of our weirdly shaped state.

As one of the owners of Rivesville, West Virginia’s oldest, newest and only breweries, Short Story Brewing, it’s important to me that the level of enthusiasm for West Virginia craft beer is as high as possible. Why? Because the breweries here have worked hard to earn this enthusiasm, and the current West Virginia craft beer scene truly rivals that of any other state. We have breweries here producing clean, crisp ales, stouts and lagers to pay homage and offer refinement to classic styles. We have breweries experimenting with flavor profiles and brewing methods to challenge the very notion of what a beer can actually be. And, perhaps most importantly we have a large community of restaurants, craft-centered bars and beer aficionados who support our industry.

So, yes, the scene is flourishing, and enthusiasm is high. But I won’t be truly happy until craft beer is the thing about West Virginia that everyone is MOST enthusiastic about. According to my extremely scientific calculations, the current West Virginia Craft Beer enthusiasm level is 7.2. For comparison, Bob Huggins has an enthusiasm level of 9.3, while the New River Gorge Bridge has a 7.8. The Grafton Monster is currently at a 2.3. Stop scaring people, Grafton Monster!

If we beer folk are ever going to start pulling Huggy Bear numbers then you, a newly minted West Virginia craft beer enthusiast, have some work to do. Luckily, I’m here to help! Without further ado, here’s how to be a West Virginia Craft Beer Enthusiast in 5 Easy Steps.

Step 1. Read This Article.

This one is going to be easy because you are doing it right now. Just keep going. You’re doing great.

Step 2. Try as Many West Virginia Craft Beers as Possible!

There are currently 25 breweries in the state of West Virginia, and you are going to need to try the beer from all of them. This can be tricky, because the breweries are not all located on the same street in Flatwoods where everyone might be able to reach them conveniently. You must WORK to visit West Virginia breweries, but that’s actually part of the fun. To visit a West Virginia brewery is to see everything that West Virginia has to offer. Head east to Stumptown Ales and Mountain State Brewing in Davis, and you’ll find yourself high in the mountains near Blackwater Falls. Head south for Weathered Ground Brewing in Cool Ridge, and you’ll likely cross the aforementioned New River Gorge Bridge, perched high above some of the best whitewater rafting in the country. Please try not be too enthusiastic about the bridge. Its numbers are good enough.

Step 3. Tell Everyone About All the Great West Virginia Craft Beer You’ve Been Drinking           

To be a true craft beer enthusiast you can’t just drink craft beer, you have to tell as many people as possible about all the craft beer and breweries you’ve been sampling. Try to slip West Virginia craft beer facts into at least three conversations a day. For example, while waiting in line at the DMV, why not casually mention to a stranger that Abolitionist Ale Works is doing some really interesting things with sours and barrel-aging. Or ask your eye doctor if she’s had a chance to try Big Timber’s new hazy IPA, available only in can. There is a zero chance that they will stare back at you with a luck of utter confusion. I promise.

Step 4: Replace Your Entire Wardrobe with Brewery-related T-shirts and Hats

In case you can’t speak directly to every human with whom you come in contact daily, be sure you to wear lots of West Virginia beer attire at all times.  Remember to keep a good variety of colors and styles so you’re prepared for any type of events, like a karate tournament, snow storm or your own wedding. Nothing says “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and I’m very enthusiastic about West Virginia craft beer” like a dark green T-shirt with a Chestnut Brew Works logo on it.

Step 5: Become an Official Card-Carrying West Virginia Craft Beer Enthusiasts

Did you know that West Virginia has a Craft Brewers Guild, and that you can become an enthusiast member? This guild encompasses most of the breweries within the state and is tasked with sharing ideas with one another, monitoring state laws and regulations and growing the industry so that more people can create and enjoy craft beer. Enthusiast members can support these causes for a small membership fee, receiving a very sleek stainless steel drinking mug and a coupon book in return. I dare you to name one thing cooler than a coupon book. I dare you.

On behalf of all the breweries in West Virginia, thank you for your continued enthusiasm for our industry. Now strap on those wooden shoes and hop aboard your tiny airplane! You and your cat have a lot of exploring to do.

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Aaron Rote is one of the owners of Short Story Brewing in Rivesville, West Virginia. He graduated from West Virginia University with an MFA in poetry, and spends most of his free time running, hiking and enjoying the Morgantown bar and restaurant scene.

This post was last updated on March 17, 2022