Monday, May 31, 2010

Ron Would Love It!

Sometimes I feel inordinately lucky to live in a part of Virginia which has at least 4 craft breweries within about 30 miles, I say "at least" because the 4 I am talking about are all west of Charlottesville and there may me more to the north, south and east.

Having spent the weekend working the tasting room in the Starr Hill Brewing Company and having a great, if exhausting time, last night Mrs Velkyal and I took my good lady wife's parents to another of the local brewers, Devil's Backbone. I remarked to Mrs V on the way home that of all the brewpubs in the area, Devil's Backbone is the only one we have taken all of our visitors to, but I digress.

I needed a pint, hefting kegs and cases of beer is heavy work, pouring samples and chatting with customers means being on your feet for the whole shift and constantly on the move, it is tiring but I love it - I have to admit though I am not sure entirely what I love more, talking about the beer or making sure that it is in the best possible condition within the realm of my influence, essentially making sure the lines are clean, but again I digress.

Devil's Backbone currently have a stout, nothing remarkable about that you might think, but this one is not an Irish Stout, it is a recreation of a 1904 London stout from Whitbread, including, according to the brewer's blog, the requisite specialty grains and fermented with the Whitbread yeast. What a simply lovely beer it was! A touch sweeter than you would expect from an Irish stout, but with big cocoa aromas and a smooth texture reminiscent of pouring warmed dark chocolate straight down your gullet. I wish I'd had my camera, speaking of which - I imagine this on cask would be magnificent!

According to Jason's blog, coming soon will be an attempt to recreate Pilsner Urquell, from the original recipe using the traditional methods - triple decoction, enough Saaz hops for 40IBUs and bohemian malts are I assume already ordered, quite though how they will get the water to the required softness I have no idea. But this I am looking forward to. Will my search finally be over? Will this little corner of American finally have a pilsner worthy of the name? Will I be agitating for it to be a regular beer if it is good?

There is only one downside to Devil's Backbone. It is not in Charlottesville itself and thus I can't walk home merrily pickled. Every trip then is one to savour.


  1. Devil's Backbone has some great beer. Brewing Network has a podcast that includes an interview with the Brewer, Jason, and the owner regarding their recent successes in the 2010 World Beer Cup:

    its interesting, but there is some banter amongst the broadcaster(s) that you can fast forward through.

  2. The only other breweries within a thirty mile (or so) radius is Queen City in Staunton which is also a brew-on-premise, and Kegler's Brew Pub at Kegler's bowling alley. Yes, a bowling alley. The beer they brew is about what you would expect from a bowling alley, which is slightly better than you would find at Queen City. A slightly larger radius brings you Jefferson Street in Lynchburg which is solid and Cally's in Harrisonburg which is very good. If you throw in Richmond just over an hour away you can add Extra Billy's and Legend.


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