CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Pittsburgh native Ryan Heastings didn't give up teaching after he moved from Pennsylvania to Charleston about three and a half years ago.
Rather than teaching history and economics, Heastings now provides instruction about beer. And he is soon hoping to expand his classroom.
Heastings, 29, of Scott Depot, has been educating local residents about craft beer - regional specialty beer - since he started working at Pies & Pints pizzeria on Capitol Street.
Now he will continue that educational effort as the brewer at the new brewpub on Quarrier Street near its intersection with Summers Street.
"I just never stopped teaching," Heastings said with his characteristic smile. "I talk about the many different styles, I give them samples and I want to show them how cool craft beer really is."
The products of corporate macro breweries have dominated West Virginia for decades. But craft beer, which has been wildly popular in other states for years, is finding a niche in the Mountain State.
Heastings will be brewing at Charleston Brewing Company, which is targeted to open April 1.
The brewpub will start out pouring five beers made in-house. It will have the capacity to pour three more beers, which will be produced by the Bridge Brew Works, a microbrewery in Fayetteville. Heastings also has a hand in the production of beer there.
Heastings has been interested in brewing since his early 20s. As a young man in the northern portion of Pittsburgh, he drank cheap suds. But as he got older, he discovered microbrew. Pittsburgh is home to many microbreweries.
"My wife and I would eat at various brewpubs and we would just try stuff," he said. "I seemed to always like it no matter what kind of beer it was."
One day while out with friends, Heastings had Hoegaarden, a Belgian wheat beer that has made inroads in the United States. And he has never looked back.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I'd never heard of Belgian beers. That's when I really stepped into the rabbit hole."
Heastings soon started brewing at home. As with many home brewers, his first attempt was not successful.
"To say it was pretty bad is kind," he said with a laugh.
Heastings also began to immerse himself in the history of beer and its different styles, from German wheats to India Pale Ales.
"I couldn't get enough of the history of beers," he said.
One of his close friends in Pittsburgh also started home brewing, and the two kept at the craft. And as with any art, practice makes perfect.
"I would go to work and listen to brewing podcasts," he said.
At the time, he was teaching in the Pennsylvania school system. When his wife took a job in West Virginia, Heastings decided to concentrate on his love of beer.