Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company
Visited on December 4, 2012
Having lived in Virginia for about a month now – which is also the reason for the hiatus on posts – I still hadn’t made it to any new brewpubs in my new state. It might be because I was having trouble finding any I deemed worthy. Or it might be because I live in the middle of nowhere.
But when I discovered that this year’s Small Brewpub of the Year – as named by the Great American Beer Festival – was a mere two hours away, you can be sure it was immediately put on my to-do list. And behold, yesterday I got the chance to visit Devil’s Backbone.
The location is absolutely stunning. In the middle of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, a lonely building stands along a giant gravel roundabout looking quite a bit like a ski lodge. And this makes sense, since the surrounding area is basically one large ski resort/vacation area. The interior is full of taxidermied animals – including several full body specimens – and high ceilings, large windows, and a lot of wood.
And as one might expect from the numerous accolades boasted on the walls, the beer is excellent.
Devil’s Backbone specializes in German styles, most notably the German lager. Of their 10 varieties available when I visited, pretty much all of it was excellent, and pretty much all of them were lagers. Of those, the Vienna lager and the traditional German lagers were my favorite. And not of them, the Danzig Baltic Porter and Sixteen Point Imperial IPA also were excellent. In fact, the IPA could rival Bell’s Hopslam.
The menu has a lot of good stuff on it as well. I wanted to try the barbecue, buy my sensibilities, non-empty stomach and wallet kept me to a smoked turkey sandwich. And it turned out to be a great decision. The sandwich included jalapeno corn dusted bread and a butt load of brussel sprout leaves. It was one of the best open-faced sandwiches I’ve ever had.
The service was decent, taking the time to explain IBUs (while I listened patiently) and the order in which they recommend tasting. Polite and friendly, not to mention prompt, but not overly wonderful.
The two things I have to knock about the place are price and the size of their samples. I typically want a four-ounce pour in order to truly get a sense of the beer – and also to get my money’s worth. But these samples came in anorexically small two-ounce pours – barely enough to whet my whistle. And the food is rather expensive, with few options under $10, and most coming in around $20. Perhaps you can afford to be that pricey when you win so many awards, but to me it’s a turn-off.