W. Va. finally gets new micro-brewery

West Virginia has not had a micro-brewery since the Little Switzerland Brewery in Huntington closed in 1971.

That is about to change, thanks to a helping hand from a Maryland operation.

Not that the Mountain State doesn't have brew pubs, but it has no true full-scale breweries. Mountaineer Brewing Co. is planning a full-blown brewery in Martinsburg, located in the West Virginia panhandle where the state joins Virginia and Maryland.

It is from Maryland where Mountaineer Brewing is shipping small quantities of beer to West Virginia from a sister company called Barley and Hops Grill & Microbrewery of Frederick, MD.

Mountaineer Brewing expects to begin its Martinsburg operation on a very small scale this month. Its product line includes amber ale, blonde lager, nut brown, pale ale, red ale and seasonal beers.

The state has just four so-called brew pubs, a number that Cindy Clark, who's in charge of beer at the state Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, told the Associated Press has stayed about the same.

"It's kind of rotating," Clark said. "We're always looking forward and hoping to increase the brew pubs business. Everyone who's involved seems like they really enjoy it."

Despite a lack of full-fledged breweries, brewing, distributing and selling beers from Budweiser to Blackwater Brewing Co.'s Black Diamond Stout contributes $369 million to West Virginia's economy, according to a recent study commissioned by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

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