Festival pairs craft beer, bluegrass music at Heritage Station

May 26, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Bluegrass and beer took over Heritage Station on Saturday afternoon for the second annual BrewGrass craft beer festival hosted by Taps at Heritage.

Tents were set up in case of rain that never came, so the crowd of about 400 revelers was able to enjoy the approximately 70 different brews — many from West Virginia — in great weather. While enjoying beer brewed as close to home as The Peddler, folks also got a taste of bluegrass music from area bands like Moonshine Crossing and Sour Mash String Band.

Festival organizer Ray Frye, who owns and operates Taps at Heritage, said he wanted to create a unique event and chose to pair craft beer with bluegrass music because of the music genre’s recent uptick in popularity thanks to artists like Tyler Childers.

“If someone shows up here a bluegrass fan and they leave here a craft beer fan, and vice versa — you come for the beer, but you leave thinking, ‘I liked that music.’ We are going to culture people a little bit,” Frye said, “because there is a great tradition of bluegrass music here.”

Frye said he wanted to give Huntington residents a reason to stay in town for the Memorial Day weekend, and he believed he achieved his goal.

Kayla Massie, who moved back to Huntington last year, said she was thrilled to see events like BrewGrass happening and bringing the community together. She said it’s events like this that foster a sense of pride in the community and encourage people to stay — though as someone who left then came back, she thinks Huntington is “contagious.”

“It takes a village to keep things going,” she said.

Massie said she and her fiance have made a hobby of trying new craft beer, frequently stopping at new breweries when they travel. Last year, she tried 179 new beers, and she said she was impressed with the quality of the brews she had tried so far Saturday.

“I think I like (craft beer) so much because, especially when you get to meet the person who made the beer, it’s almost like, even if you spend five minutes with them and you taste the beer, you can tell that person would make that kind of beer,” she said. “It’s totally their personality. As an artist, you put your heart into a lot of things, and they do the exact same thing. It’s just a different type of art form.”

Frye is keeping the community spirit going into the summer with live bands on the new deck situated behind the black train near Taps. Then it’s onto the city’s largest beer festival, Rails and Ales, in August, which he said he will close up shop to attend. Tickets for Rails and Ales go on sale Friday, May 31.

“We are always trying to help each other, and I think that’s something special to Huntington,” Frye said about the craft beer community in the city. “If you go to some cities, it’s cut-throat. It’s so not that here. Weathered Ground, Short Story Brewing, Bad Shepherd — they’ve all said to me, ‘If you want to start brewing, let us know. Don’t figure it out yourself. We will help you out.’ ... You don’t find that everywhere. That’s West Virginia. That’s Huntington.”

Taps at Heritage is located at 210 11th St., Huntington.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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