MORGANTOWN — Looking for an adventure this weekend? A Saturday centered around beer and tacos may sound pretty laid-back but Top Tier Beer Group promises to amp up the experience at the second Hops on the Mon.
The craft beer gathering, set for 2-7 p.m. at the Ruby Community Center at Mylan Park, will feature more than 70 breweries from 15 states and six countries offering festival-goers a chance to sample more than 220 brews.
And eight area restaurants will compete in this year’s food contest, The Motown Taco Throwdown. Tin 202, Table 9, Black Bear, Iron Horse Tavern, Puglioni’s, Sargasso, Chico’s Fat and The Rambling Root will vie for a a $1,000 prize given to the people’s choice winner.
“This city deserves a chance to explore the best craft beers available in the state in a low-risk and fun environment,” said organizer Grace Hutchens, who owns Apothecary Ale House and Cafe. She is a part of Top Tier Beer Group, which also includes Andrew Walker and Jay Redmond.
“Ever wanted to try that $20 bottle of beer but are afraid you won’t like it? Well, now is your opportunity to sample many diverse offerings. Not your flavor? Dump it out. Love it? Go back and get some more. Hops on the Mon is your playground in all things beers.”
Due to the change in venue (last year’s event was at the Morgantown Event Center), Hutchens said floor space has doubled, allowing for more breweries.
New participants this year include Bold Rock Hard Cider (Va.), Helltown Brewing (Pa.), SweetWater Brewing (Ga.), Terrapin Beer Company (Ga.) and a handful of European breweries from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Belgium.
Among dozens of breweries on hand will be roughly 20 based in West Virginia, including area establishments such as Short Story Brewing, which won last year’s Best of Festival only a few months after opening.
Aaron Rote, who owns the Rivesville brewery with Abigail Kopischke and Mike Kopischke, is excited to return.
“Hops on the Mon is awesome,” he said. “When we decided to open, Grace was one first people we talked to, to figure out how this all worked … So, it’s a little bit of a celebration of that relationship and [Top Tier], because they were supportive before anyone else. We want to pay that back by having a cool booth and being a draw.”
In fact, Hops on the Mon was the first festival Short Story was a part of.
“After we won, we definitely saw a bump in the crowd a couple weeks right after,” Rote said. “And after a couple of years of getting the brewery set up to actually take part in something with the brewing community was great. … We knew a fair amount of brewers in the state but you have breweries all over, up in the mountains, that you don’t get to go to, but for a big festival like this everybody comes out.”
Rote said in addition to two of Short Story’s classic styles — Ready, Steady, Go and Working Title — attendees will be able to try the brewery’s new hazy IPAs.
“I’m not sure what else we’ll bring, but we’ll be heavy on the IPAs.”
To go along with the many beers available, attendees will also be able to try a variety of tacos and vote on their favorite.
“We really try to select a food that can be presented in small portions, encouraging everyone to try as many different restaurants as possible,” Hutchens said. “Beer and tacos are such a classic combination that we knew that the chefs and cooks would really have fun in crafting them.
“We do have three restaurants that already do tacos on a daily basis — Black Bear, Chico Fat’s, and Let’s Go Tacos — but I’m confident that all of our contenders will bring their absolute best to the festival.”
And for those concerned about safely enjoying all Hops on the Mon has to offer, Hutchens said a new addition to the festivities has been added.
“To further facilitate transportation to the festival in a responsible manner, and keep our tie to downtown, this year we added a downtown shuttle, picking up from the Court House Square on High Street,” she said.
The bus will arrive about every 30 minutes starting at 1 p.m. There’s also a discounted admission for those who are designated drivers — $20, as opposed to $45 for general admission and $60 for VIP.
Hutchens said there aren’t very many VIP tickets left, but anyone snagging them can expect new amenities.
“This year, we reformatted our layout a little bit and created a separate VIP section featuring 10 super exclusive breweries and a plethora of high-end bottles,” she added. “Like last year, our VIP ticket-holders will receive a special, gold-rimmed tasting glass, but new to this year is access to this roped-off area featuring the best of the fest and free food to nibble on.”
And it’s not just the VIP tickets that are selling well.
“We had such a great turnout last year, that we’re confident that we’ll grow our attendance this year,” Hutchen said. “Plenty of beer has been ordered and our festival space pretty much doubled in size, so we’re ready to show Morgantown (again) was awesome beer is all about.”
- Hops on the Mon is set for 2-7 p.m. Saturday at the Ruby Community Center at Mylan Park. Tickets cost $45 for general admission, $60 for VIP, and $20 for designated drivers. It is is a 21 and older event, even for designated drivers. Everyone must present a valid ticket and ID to enter. Purchases inside the venue are cash only. There are two ATMs on sight at Mylan Park. Those interested in volunteers may sign up online Perks are free festival entry, free T-shirt, private two-hour tasting session post fest, and free food from Black Bear Burritos. Info: hopsonthemon.com.