Devils Backbone’s “Outpost” Brewery Expansion – A Feel Good Story For The Beer Curious

The line of curious, would be beer tasters at the Devils Backbone Brewing Company tent during this year’s Microfestivus beer festival in Roanoke was hard to miss.  True, as beer festivals move from early afternoon to late, beer lines inevitably grow as well, as anyone who’s waited (and waited, and waited) in those lines will tell you.  But this one had plenty of folks lining up early on, and for good reason.  Of course the brewery brought their award winning brews for tasting.  But the brewery was generating plenty of buzz for another reason, which was hard to miss too.  Under the brewery’s tasting tent, nearly taking up one full side of the front table, stood a large full color diagram of the floor plans for the brewery’s expansion plans, a production facility called the “Outpost”, currently under construction just north of Lexington.  Building upon the success of their award winning beers – medals earned at last year’s World Beer Cup, as well as the honor of being named Champion Brewery in the Small Brewpub category are just a few examples – Devils Backbone is earning quite a name for itself within Virginia’s borders, and causing quite a bit of stir – and why not?  Who doesn’t love a local, or in this case, regional, feel good success story?

For anyone who’s visited what may soon become known as the “original” location, you already are familiar with the charm of the brewery, not to mention the darn good beer.  Located less than two hours from Roanoke in picturesque Nelson County, Devils Backbone (DBB) resides at the base of Wintergreen Resort, in a gorgeous, cozy, ski lodge style building.  According to Hayes Humphreys, Chief Operating Officer for DBB, this location will continue to brew beer, although it may serve more of a “research and development” role, much the way Dogfish Head’s original Rehoboth Beach (DE) location does for that now famous brewery.  The production facility near Lexington, which will also feature a tasting room, will primarily focus at first on more of the brewery’s core beers.  Large windows will give tasting room visitors a look at the production of the beer, and the exterior of the building promises to look a little less like a beer production facility and more like a natural fit for the Rockbridge County country side, likely mirroring the look of the Nelson County location.

Adding to the local flavor of the project, the brewery hired Covington, VA native Nate Olewine as head brewer for the new location – and if his first official DBB creation is any indication, the Outpost is in good hands.  Currently, his “Olewine Brown”, a delicious, hop leaning brown ale, is on tap at the original location.  Olewine attended Virginia Tech before receiving his brewers certificate at UC-Davis, and spent five years at Victory Brewing in Pennsylvania before coming to Devils Backbone.

The brewery is also dedicated to staying close to their fans, even during – especially during – this time of growth.  According to Humphreys, the brewery is committed to making connections within areas of distribution slowly, instead of simply pushing beer out to just anywhere they can without folks in those areas being familiar with their brews.  Upcoming tasting events are being planned which will give them the opportunity to do just that as they lead up to the opening of the Outpost facility.  Events such as this are good news for the craft beer curious in the area, especially if you haven’t had a taste of DBB’s beer.

But perhaps you have had some of their fine beer, and have made the short drive up to Nelson County. Or perhaps you were one of the ones, like me, lined up outside the brewery’s Microfestivus tent that steamy August afternoon.  However familiar you are with Devils Backbone, if you live in the region, prepare to become a part of this feel good story in the upcoming months.  The production facility is coming along, and compared to the original brewpub, will be capable of brewing ten times the beer, so get ready.  Their award winning, delicious, locally produced brews are coming to restaurants and stores near you.  It’s darn good news, and exceptionally good beer – no lines, no waiting.

Take a look at more photos I took recently at the Devils Backbone Outpost construction site!

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Visit the Devils Backbone Site

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~ by thebeerroad on September 13, 2011.

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