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Beer festival doubles in size

Aug. 16, 2014 @ 10:00 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Anyone wanting to get tickets to the 3rd annual Rails and Ales festival next year at Heritage Station better line up early.

Only 1,500 tickets were available for this year's craft beer festival in downtown Huntington, and they went fast. Diane Pendleton of Hurricane, W.Va, was able to get six the first day they went on sale. "We were lucky," she said. "We got ours just in time before they sold out."

"We've gone to other beer festivals," she said. "This is comparable. This is a big success. Craft beer is very popular now. People love tasting the different beers."

"My son got tickets for me," said Pat Reger of Huntington. "This is a great little thing for Huntington."

Jessica Pressman of the Better Beer Coalition, which hosts Rails and Ales, said tickets were limited because "we want the experience for everyone to be enjoyable. We want everyone to have a good time. We want to grow slowly so we can provide a quality experience for everyone."

Eighty-nine different beers brewed or distributed in West Virginia were available at the festival. There also were six food vendors including the folks from Backyard Pizza, which has been without a home since a fire in downtown Huntington several weeks ago.

The group would like to expand the festival next year, Pressman said.

Shelly Keeney of Huntington went to the inaugural festival last year and knew she wanted to come back this year. Only 750 tickets were sold last year.

"It was really good, and the food vendors were very good, so I've been looking forward to it," she said.

Bill Rittenour, owner of Chestnut Brew Works in Morgantown, W.Va., was attending the festival for the first time. He opened his brewery in April of last year and plans to expand from 200 barrels to 1,100 barrels this November. Things are going well."

He was offering three types of draft beer, but his Halleck Pale Ale was the favorite of many.

Chip Roedersheimer of the North End Tavern and Brewery in Parkersburg, was another of the microbrewers participating in the festival.

"We were here last year," he said. "I picked up five accounts. I deliver to Huntington every other week or so."

"I was bred to this," he said. When his parents brought him home from the hospital, they put him in an Inglenook wooden wine crate instead of a baby bed. "We're the oldest, continuous operating brewery in West Virginia. The company has been in business since 1899."

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