January’s Featured Brewery: Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Lexington, Virginia is situated in Rockbridge County about 300 miles northwest of Knoxville; as driving goes, it’s a fairly straight 4 hour drive trip up I-40 and I-81. There are more than a handful of reasons to make that trip, especially if you’re a Civil War buff; both Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried in Lexington. Lee rests beneath the Lee Chapel which houses many of his family members including his father, Revolutionary War General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee. Jackson lies in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, and the only house he ever owned is nearby and open to visitors. Rockbridge is also the birthplace of our own beloved Sam Houston.

But, there’s something else about Lexington that we’re especially fond of, and that’s beer from Devils Backbone (no apostrophe, please!). It’s a new brew for us – the brewery expanded distribution to East Tennessee this fall after a big expansion that allows them to brew up to 120,000 barrels annually. If you do decide to drive up, there are actually two Devils Backbone spots to visit: the Outpost Brewery is in Lexington and the Basecamp Brewpub is about an hour over the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to a 500 person beer garden, outdoor bar, smokehouse, and live music stage. But you don’t have to drive all that way to get a taste; we’ve got it for you.

Although many of its fans may describe this beer as wickedly good, the brewery’s name doesn’t come directly from an agreement with Old Scratch; instead, it comes indirectly by way of a 1746 survey team that included Colonel Peter Jefferson (Thomas’ father). The team was commissioned to confirm the Fairfax Line (a boundary of the properties in Virginia that belonged to Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron). As they surveyed and cut their way through this often treacherous terrain, they encountered a particularly perilous ridge that they dubbed Devils Backbone.

While the name is an homage, the beer isn’t so perilous (in responsible quantities, of course). In fact it gets high marks for its ease of drinking, and it made good showings at 2015 Beer Festivals including the Great American Beer Festival, Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, as well as at the Australian International Beer Awards.

But why take a Festival opinion when you can form your own, eh? This month our taps will flow with Devils Backbone, and you can look forward to tasting a number of brews over the course of the month including the 3 beers included in the Brewery’s Basecamp Favorites:

  • Vienna Lager (5.2% ABV, 18 IBUs) is the brewery’s flagship beer and Gold Medal winner for 2015 at the Great American Beer Festival. Look for light caramel with a toasty nutty finish.
  • Eight Point IPA (6.2% ABV, 60 IBUs), a classic IPA, presents a snap of pine and grapefruit and a clean finish.
  • Schwartzbier (5.1%, 22 IBUs) comes in the form of a black lager laden with flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, along with a light fruitiness and a very light, drinkable body.

We’ll also have two of the Brewery’s “Trailblazer Seasonals” starting with Kilt Flasher (8%ABV, 20IBUs).  It’s a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale with flavors of toffee, dried fruit, and toast. And when that’s finished, you can look forward to Danzig (8% ABV, 24 IBUs) a Baltic Porter with luscious dark chocolate flavors melding with dark fruit and a smooth body.

Like many regional craft breweries, Devils Backbone is still very much in touch with its founding principles, which you can read on their website (http://dbbrewingcompany.com/). But one of these is especially worth mentioning:

Intensity Of Flavor Is Not Equal To Quality Of Flavor

“We strive to brew beer with personality and integrity of flavor whether it’s a 12% abv Barley wine or our 4.5% Gold Leaf Lager. We instill the same quality in all our beers and take pride in every one of them. Some of our beers are very approachable while others are more intense. All are brewed to stand alone with purpose and quality of flavor.”

We look forward to hearing what you think of Devils Backbone, so, hope to see you soon!

Devils Backbone
Devils Backbone