Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company

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My daughter and I were recently in Virginia and took a day trip from Lynchburg to the University of Virginia, which has a beautiful campus, an amateurish football stadium, and a really good sandwich shop.  On the return trip, we ventured down Hwy 151.

There’s nothing wrong with Hwy 29, a 4 lane road that is the main thoroughfare between the two cities.  There are few stop lights and very little development in evidence.  It’s a very pretty, painless drive through beautiful trees with a scenic view of the Blue Ridge to the west.

On the return trip, we ventured down Hwy 151, closer to said mountains and again very lightly developed.  Farms, large homesteads, lots of trees... oh, yeah, and 7 wineries, 3 breweries, 1 cidery and 1 distillery along a 30 mile stretch advertised as Virginia’s Weekend Address.  And why not?  The Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t that far either, so it’s really just a matter of deciding which place you want to stop.  Most seem to offer food.

After doing my web homework on the breweries, I selected Devil’s Backbone.  I had one of their beers the previous year, they have styles I like, and the name is far more intriguing than, say, Rockfish Valley, as the general area is known.  (Other options were Wild Wolf Brewing and Blue Mountain Brewery).  From 151, it doesn’t look much like a brewery – more of a mountain lodge with a silo.

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(and bee hives and a windmill).

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Inside, it maintained the lodge appeal, with high vaulted ceilings and a number of mounted trophy heads.

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They offer a full menu, as well as wines and other beers.  Sadly, our timing was just a bit off for a tour.

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This brewery visit was a little different, as it was the first time I’ve gone with my daughter.  DB has three sets of “flights,” 2 oz. samplers of their beers.  We began with their mainstays:

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The set on the left are the Gold Leaf Lager, Eight Point IPA, and Pear Lager.  The first we agreed was okay, we split on the second (not hoppy enough for me and too hoppy for her), and pears don’t belong in beer.

The right set included the Vienna Lager, Schwartz Bier, and Striped Bass Pale Ale.  The first two had one a fair number of awards at various competitions. We liked the Vienna a good bit more than the Gold Leaf – in general, darker coloring indicates more flavoring, and I definitely favor those.  It’s not surprise then that the black bier was pretty decent to my taste... she was okay with it, but not a preference.  The Striped Bass, aside from the notion of drinking a fish, was fair.

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Set #2 was more adventurous, from left to right:

Trail Angel Weiss – Bavarian style hefeweizen – I’m not a big fan of wheat beers; she liked it alright.
Turbo Cougar Blonde Bock – strong gold lager, and probably our favorite of their lighter beers.
Ramsey’s Dwarf Stout – If you like stout... maybe you’d like this.  Not us, so much.
Bavarian Dark Lager – German style dunkle lager – pretty tasty with a caramel flavor.
Hebron Pale Ale – okay.  Overall, not as good as the first batch.

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We should have avoided flight #3.  Hazy Summer, Tommy 2 Fists, Ein Kolsch, Backbone Shandy and Berliner Metro Weiss, the last being dreadful and the remainder underwhelming.

Noticeably absent from their draught options were their Dark Abby Belgian,  Azrael Golden Ale, and Catty Wompus IPA, each of which would have suited me favorably.

So, after essentially tasting 16 one oz. servings, we were on our way, but not before we observed several practicing at DB’s outdoor theater (?), to present a “fast, sexy, and epic” version of Macbeth.  At the right is a guy in a black shirt who saw me taking a picture and struck a gallant pose.  I like Macbeth; I might like it more with beer.

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In sum, it was a good experience, and it’s an area that can entertain those with enthusiasm for the outdoors and alcohol for many weekends.

1 comment :

  1. It's a shame VA did not have those when I was a regular there. It's been 18 years since I drove through there and may be 18 more before I return! Oh well. Nice write up! :-)

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