Wednesday, May 5, 2021

In Praise of the Brewery Steve Built

I learnt this morning through social media that Devils Backbone founder Steve Crandall had died. Now, I didn't know Steve particularly well, having only met him a couple of times, but if you have been a regular on Fuggled for any length of time you will know just how much the brewery he founded means to me. I do count several Devils Backbone folks as friends, and knowing the strong family ethos that permeates the company, I know they are hurting right now.

If memory serves, the genesis of Devils Backbone was Steve, and his wife Heidi, wanting to create something akin to an alpine gasthaus in a part of Virginia that at the time was better known for its wine than its beer. The first time Mrs V and I went down to Roseland I remember the joy of seeing such a beautiful brewpub in some of the finest surroundings I have ever seen. The original building, which is still the beating heart of a much increased venue - they have a distillery, campgrounds, outdoor bar, and probably more stuff since I was last there - was built largely from reclaimed materials. My personal favourite "feature", for want of a better word, is the solid wooden flooring, it is just beautiful.

Over the years that followed, Devils Backbone became something of a regular haunt, indeed at one point I remarked to Mrs V that it was the only local brewery that we had taken all of our visitors too. A fact that is still true, whenever friends come to visit us for the first time, the hour long drive to Devils Backbone for beer and a feed is de rigeur.

I don't believe it would be an understatement that the Virginia beer scene would be infinitely poorer without the work of Steve Crandall and Devils Backbone. They were instrumental in the founding of organisations like the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, as well as the Virginia Craft Beer Cup, which they hosted for the first few years, and won 3 years in a row.

In the 12 years I have lived in Virginia, Devils Backbone have been a staple of my drinking life, and the brewery about which I have posted most on Fuggled. As such, I am incredibly grateful that Steve followed his vision to create a place to drink world class beer in one of the most beautiful parts of Virginia. With that in mind, I will be raising a glass or two of Vienna Lager in his memory.

1 comment:

  1. You feel as we all feel. It is such a monumental loss because of his monumental impact. Thank you for sharing these amazing, heartfelt, and kind words. 💚 🍻


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