Friday, August 22, 2014

Rails & Ales Craft Beer Festival

Rails & Ales

West Virginia is coming around to the craft beer scene. Legislation will hopefully lighten up on breweries, and the number of brewers in the state is growing steadily. If you're keeping track, in West Virginia, we have:

    Rails & Ales
  • Basement Brewery
  • Big Timber Brewing Company
  • Blackwater Brewing Company
  • Brewstel Microbrewery & Hostel
  • Bridge Brew Works
  • Charleston Brewing Company
  • Chestnut Brew Works
  • Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company
  • Lost River Brewing Company
  • Morgantown Brewing Company
  • Mountain State Brewing Company
  • North End Tavern & Brewery
  • Wheeling Brewing Company
  • Rustik Bru Brewing Company (in planning)?
Rails & AlesRails & Ales

A good bit of those were in attendance for West Virginia's largest craft beer festival: Rails & Ales in Huntington. Other smaller beer festivals are popping up, but this one is the largest (as far as I know) and dedicated to the beer. It's in high demand, too. This year, they had 1,500 tickets for sale, and they sold out within hours. Many, including this blogger, didn't nab one. Luckily, they did one even better for me and got me a media pass so I could check the festival out.

Rails & AlesVIP tickets were available and allowed visitors in an hour early - from noon to 1 p.m. From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. was beer service, and by 6 p.m., the festival is over. I tried to get as many West Virginia beers as I could, because there were other domestic and international breweries available. The following breweries were on our list of attendance (and I tried most of them!)

Bridge Brew Works - I tried their "Crux" beer, which was least hoppy of the bunch. Very good.

Blackwater Brewing Company - Not there.
Rails & Ales
Chestnut Brew Works - Bill is one of my favorite people ever, I think. I tried the beer I hadn't had yet - Soma. Hoppy, but in a nice citrus way.

Charleston Brewing Company - Skipped this one because I have had it before.

Morgantown Brewing Company - Skipped this one because I have had it before.

Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company - The Wild Trail Ale was tasty.

Rails & AlesNorth End Tavern - Their Cherry Saison definitely had a little cherry kick, and it was nice to finally try this place! Been on my list for a while now.

Mountain State Brewing Company - Skipped this one because I have had it before.

Big Timber - Another that has been on my to-try list for some time. I tried their blonde, which was great.

Rails & AlesThere were other U.S. Breweries, including Blue Mountain (VA), Southern Tier (NY), Rogue (OR), Sierra Nevada (CA), Harpoon (MA), Shipyard (ME), Good Island (IL), Widmer Brothers (OR), Country Boy (KY), and Great Lakes (OH).

Plus some international breweries: Ayinger (GER), Brouwerij Affiligem (BEL), Brouwerij Van Honsebrouk (BEL), Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven (NL), Brouwerij Van Steenberge (BEL), Brouwerij De Brabandere (BEL), Meantime (UK), and Weihenstephan (GER).

Restaurants: Black Sheep Burritos and Brews, La Famiglia, River and Rail Bakery, Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar, and University Giovanni's Pizza. I DID get to try one, and I'll post about that later.

In addition to the local beer, I had a nice pumpkin beer, an awesome sour beer and a few others from outside of the area.

If you didn't get a chance to go, be on the lookout for when they announce next year's festival and be ready to get your tickets super early - like, within the hour they announce. It's a really cool event to try all of our state's beers in one place, meet fellow beer-lovers and support a growing industry.

Rails & Ales

TL;DR Super cool event in West Virginia that celebrates local beer. Go.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lewisburg Edition: General Lewis Inn

General LewisFor my work trip to Lewisburg, we stayed overnight at the General Lewis Inn. In addition to being a super cute, homey place to rest (and the most amazing little garden), it has a great little restaurant. After a night at the bed and breakfast, I went for the breakfast part.

They have a complimentary coffee bar, but we went into the actual restaurant for some grub. The first thing that stuck out to me was the Belgian waffles. You could add strawberries, so I did. I also got a side of sausage.

General Lewis 2Pretty tasty. Best waffle I've ever had? No, but it was lightly crisp and soft and pretty darn tasty. It got a little mushy, but not a problem. Sausage was a little overcooked, but I'd rather it be that than the other way. A little bit more expensive than our dinner the day before.

Overall - quite tasty. Want a good waffle, fresh fruit and a side of protein? They have your number. Lewisburg is full of great options, and this is just one of them.

General Lewis Inn

Grade: B
General Lewis Inn on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lewisburg Edition: The Market

The MarketA work trip took me to Lewisburg. And there are only a handful of restaurants I haven't tried there yet - including The Market, the breakfast and lunch arm of Food & Friends. As soon as we entered town, we parked along the street and walked to the side of the building.

The Market operates out of the back end of the building, with just a few tables inside and more outside under a shady tree. After quickly looking at the menu board behind the counter, I decided on The Mountaineer – roast beef piled high with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar and horseradish mayo. It's a quick turnaround, and my meal was out to me within minutes.

The MarketThe bread was pressed and had a nice crunch. There was a ton of meat and cheese and crunchy onions all held together with a horseradish mayo that gave just a slight kick without being overwhelming. Everything was fresh, crisp and despite being incredibly filling - but light. Awesome.

Grade: A
Market on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Second Annual Best Chef Cook Off

Sher YipI wasn't able to go to this year's Second Annual Best Chef Cook Off at Lakeview because I was out of town (and state and country!). Don't worry, I'll post some (brief) reviews from Montreal soon, but I wanted to share some photos that superstar photographer Sher Yip took while there. BRB, salivating over all these amaze dishes.

ATOMIC GRILL - pork belly duet with braised cabbage, cilantro grits, pickled melon trio on arugula, apricot sambal and soy lime reduction. Pulled pork sliders with housemade BBQ. Mojito meringue pie with mint and lime.

Sher Yip

Sher Yip

MORGANTOWN BREWING COMPANY - House brined 'Zack Morgan's IPA' beer pickle served with '80 Shillings Scotch Ale mustard. Roasted ratatouille with green and yellow zucchini, purple and yellow onion, red, yellow and orange peppers, roasted then simmered in a sauce of red and green tomatoes, basil, garlic and scallions. BBQ pulled pork canape with 'Old Morgantown Amber Ale' braised and hickory smoked pork sauced with a sweet spiced BBQ and served on bicolor corn tortilla chips, topped with hot pepper peach puree and purple onion marmalade. Mixed berry, basil and beet bavarian with sweet beet bavarian swirled with basil, blackberries and blueberries topped with a burnt orange caramel and toasted almonds.

Sher Yip

Sher Yip

COACH'S CRAB SHACK - crabby spaghetti - pasta cooked with old bay seafood seasoning loaded with blue crab meat. Lobster meatball made from scratch with Maine lobster in red sauce with parmigiano reggiano. Gator eggs with alligator meat, crab meat, cream cheese stuffed in a jalapeno and panko fried.

Sher Yip

LAKEVIEW - vegetable pad thai with pan-seared scallops and firecreacker shrimp

Sher Yip

Sher Yip


Sher Yip


Sher Yip

LAKEHOUSE - Steak and lobster empanadas

Sher Yip

STEFANO'S - shrimp and grits

Sher Yip

TABLE 9 - pan-seared lamb, charred onions, roasted garlic, salted yogurt, celery root crumble. Buttered popcorn, pot de creme and salted caramel.

Sher Yip

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Motown Mac 'N Cheese Cook Off


The United Way hosted Morgantown's first macaroni and cheese cook-off. I was honored to be one of the judges, along with Del. Amanda Pasdon. The event had an incredible turnout with more than 350 people attending and eight incredible restaurants competing: Atomic Grill, Iron Horse Tavern, Hash Browns & New Grounds, Oliverio's Ristorante, Morgantown Brewing Company, Table 9, Terra Cafe and Tailpipes. For whatever reason, Stefano's didn't show up. No home cooks entered the competition, but I think that's something that might take off next year.

Iron Horse Tavern - tater tot wafer with black truffle sour cream topped with four cheese macon mac - smoked gouda, pecorino romano, white cheddar and gruyere - smoked paprika, garlic panko crust and chives.

Motown Mac & Cheese Cook OffTailpipes - "Maki Roni & Cheese" - Irish cheddar, goat cheese, candied bacon, parmesan, spicy mayo and Japanese panko.

Motown Mac & Cheese Cook Off

Terra Cafe - "Blue 'BLT' Mac N' Cheese" - homemade orecchiette in a tomato and blue cheese sauce. Served in a fresh-baked bread bowl and garnished with candied bacon and kale chips. Kale and onions from Round Right Farm. Allegheny Chevre and Black & Blue from Firefly Farms. Eggs from Possum Tail Farm.

Motown Mac & Cheese Cook OffMorgantown Brewing Comapny - "Beer & Bacon Cheesy Mac with '80 Shillings Scotch Ale" - asiago, sharp white cheddar, mozzarella, smoked provolone and smoked gouda cheeses with whole wheat macaroni and semolina cavatappi pasta with grilled leeks, black beans and roasted red peppers topped with crispy house-cured pork jowl bacon crumbles.

Motown Mac & Cheese Cook OffOliverio's Ristorante - "Lobster Mac and Cheese" - homemade lobster stock, lobster base, butter, heavy cream, scallions and garlic with cheddar, parmesan and smoked gouda cheeses tossed with cavatappi pasta, langostino and lobster tail meal.

Motown Mac & Cheese Cook OffAtomic Grill - "Atom-Mac" - cavatappi egg pasta, a proprietary blend of six cheeses, serrano peppers, cayenne sauce, scallions and white pepper.

Motown Mac & Cheese Cook OffTable 9 - orzo, pork belly and smoked gouda.

Motown Mac & Cheese Cook Off

Hash Browns & New Grounds
- jalapeno gnocchi macaroni and cheese with toasted peppercorns, panko and red chili sauce.

Overall thoughts: I really liked Tailpipes' creativity. Super cool theme, and the crust on the outside was slightly sweet. Loved that. Terra Cafe was also tasty with homemade pasta, creamy cheese with a tang and nice texture with crispy kale. Plus local ingredients. Oliverio's rounded out my top three with their lobster pasta - it's a staple on their menu, and it's just so rich and delicious.

Iron Horse had a solid more traditional mac and cheese, but well executed. Morgantown Brewing Company was similar to Iron Horse, but I love that they included their own beer. Atomic Grill had a super thick and slightly spicy mac and cheese. I was bummed they only had two servings, and it was just almost too thick to be able to eat too much. Table 9 got points for creativity with the orzo, but it almost seemed like a casserole to me - minus the chicken and broccoli. And Hash Browns and New Grounds didn't save any tastings for the judges, so we didn't even get to try it.


Judge's Choice
1. Iron Horse Tavern
2. Oliverio's Ristorante
3. Morgantown Brewing Company

Best of Show
1. Terra Cafe
2. Tailpipes

People's Choice
1. Hash Browns & New Grounds
2. Oliverio's Ristorante
3. Tailpipes