Tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is a lovely mountain lodge where the creators thought of every detail before opening last November to serve house-brewed beers. We finally got a chance to check out Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, which is just south of Nellysford at the intersection of Route 664 and 151. On the edge of a development in the making, this is the flagship business for the Village at Glen Mary.
It’s modern beam and local stone construction, accented by recycled corrugated metal roofing and recycled wood from a variety of sources, make the building a work of eco-friendly art. The metal adorning interior walls comes from a 1900’s dairy barn in Urbana, MD while the tables and booths are distinctively crafted from wood recycled from a horse barn in Uppersville, VA. The wide floor boards were pulled from a tobacco barn, while the stone is local river rock. Taxidermied wildlife has been provided by Nelson County hunters and sportsman – all local mammals, with the exception of a moose from Maine. It’s a 3-million dollar investment and every dollar shows in the perfect detail.
My first impression of this over-sized building and perfectly detailed wood and stone work was that it would be a typical tourist-oriented steakhouse that serves house beer. But when I walked in the door, the first thing I smelled was mash – not wood smoke or grilled meat as expected – milled grain on the boil! That’s a promising sign for a microbrewery!
We were seated at a table near a gorgeous fireplace and under a handcrafted metal chandelier – the metal shaped into hops vines and grain. Large windows created good lighting and beautiful views of the mountain surround. The staff were courteous and attentive, not just to us, but to every detail. They kept the place tidy and ready for guests to come.
The beers were very good. Nothing blew me away, but I wasn’t disappointed by anything on our table. Devil’s Backbone offers half-pints and several taster flight option (only 2-oz of each, though), so we opted for half-pints. We tried:
- Wintergreen Weiss (4.7% ABV, 13 IBUs) – light, balanced and full of banana and clove aroma.
- Eight Point IPA (5.9% ABV, 60 IBUs) – seemed like more of a Pale Ale; very light in color and on the maltier side; not a lot of hop aroma.
- Alpen Bock (6.9% ABV) – drinkable and smooth with a touch of roastiness and a subtle hint of butterscotch.
- Dead Bear Imperial Stout (8.5% ABV) – full flavored brew, despite a quiet nose; ends with hints of dark chocolate and espresso.
The food was outstanding, and there were so many interesting things on the menu that we didn’t try. D had the fish and chips – the fish was prepared with a hint of chili powder prior to deep frying, and arrived in the shape of little fish “fingers”; the fries were substantial and tasty. I had a cream of spinach and bacon soup paired with a winter beet salad, made with roasted watermelon, spiced pecans and goat cheese. There were several other plates I would have liked to try, but I was working on a light appetite.
There is a wonderful description with a beautiful photo on a local blog, and I’m sure as the March 16 Grand Opening week approaches, more information on this place will come out. Certainly if you find yourself in Nelson County, VA, stopping by Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. is worthwhile (but don’t forget Blue Mountain Brewery, which is just up the road on Rt. 151 – just as Devil’s Backbone is beautifully extravagant, Blue Mountain is fabulous in it’s simplicity!)