What’s Next From Devils Backbone? A Visit To Their Outpost (And Through ‘Their’ Belgian Congo) Reveals Their Trailblazer Series Is Going To Make For An Interesting Ride

A few months back, as I waited on the sidewalk outside a downtown Roanoke restaurant for friends to arrive for lunch, I noticed a driver for local beer distributor P.A. Short was unloading his truck a couple storefronts down.  Briskly rolling a delivery of several cases of beer by me on his hand truck, he slowed down just long enough to notice that my shirt had a Devils Backbone logo on it, a purchase made at the company’s brewpub a few months before.  “You work for the brewery?” he asked.  For a split second, an image flashed across my mind of such a possibility.  I think I began to grin a little, as I pictured myself doing just that, and somewhere in the recesses of my brain I am very sure I heard the words “test batch samples” echoing.  But in an instant, I returned to reality and said “Nah, just a fan of their beer”.  Of course, I knew why he was asking.  The distributor had been chosen by the Nelson County based brewery to distribute their brews to Roanoke, once their “Outpost” production brewery in Lexington was up and running.  “Can’t wait to start carrying their stuff!” he said, quickly turning a corner and heading inside to finish the delivery.  Having tasted their beers on several occasions at the brewpub near Charlottesville, I remember thinking to myself “Yeah, me too.”

Roughly a week and a half ago, the delivery driver’s wishes, and mine, came true.  Six packs of the two brewery’s two flagship beers, their crisp and clean tasting Vienna Lager, and their razor sharp, hop imbued Eight Point IPA, started showing up in stores here in Roanoke.  In less than a year after the official ground breaking at the Rockbridge County facility, bottles are now in stores.  One might think the brewery would be happy to have reached this point.  The question “ok, what’s next?” is definitely inevitable, but feels a little impatient, right?  As it turns out, Devils Backbone is well ahead of that question, and seems almost as impatient to answer it as fans of their beer might seem to ask it.  A visit yesterday to the brewery revealed a couple of those answers, and if what I sampled is any indication, our im-patience is about to be well tested.

As part of what the brewery plans to call their “Trailblazer Series”, Devils Backbone will start to roll out additional beers as limited releases starting in the very near future.  As many craft breweries do, Devils Backbone will offer these as slightly off the beaten path, more complex beers for the beer curious to try their taste buds out on.  The first, a Belgian style pale ale called “Belgian Congo”, on tap currently at the brewery’s tasting room, will be the first in the series.  I had the wonderful opportunity to try this flavorful beer when I stopped by the brewery yesterday, and if this beer is any indication of what’s to come with the whole series, we’re all in for some very delicious and exciting beers.

The brewery listed the Belgian Congo as a pale ale, although initially I had heard that it was some form of IPA.  Labels, labels, labels…throw them out right now.  Good for general direction, but when you get down to it, as I’ve written before, they’re horrible for specifics. Their Belgian Congo is a wonderful label busting beer, a hybrid of hoppy beer brewed with an (obviously) Belgian yeast strain, and by virtue of these elements and others, is one of those with many layers to it.  Pale golden in color, it is very aromatic and grabs your attention with a blend of crisp apple and pear.  These also show up in the flavor of the beer as well, due to the hops and/or type of yeast used, yet off somewhere in the distance there also an orange citrusy one as well.  Alongside runs a slight edge of more typical pine hop flavor and low bitterness, both of which are a bit more subdued than the fruit like flavors but certainly present.  What’s beautiful about tasting this beer is that none of these elements overshadow another.  There are plenty of flavorful beers out there, many of whose flavors overlap some, but not completely, and they’re certainly deserved of praise.  But there are those in which everything seems to be working at the same time, apart yet together, not unlike a group of modern jazz soloists playing their own solos yet listening to each other, working within one solid groove.  You tend to get a little wonderfully lost in those moments, in those beers, which this is definitely one of.

What’s next?  If the Belgian Congo is any indication, their Trailblazer Series ought to hold plenty of promise.  For a taste of what’s to come, you can easily run up to their tasting room near Lexington.  Can’t wait to find it in stores?  Perhaps it’s time to sit back and practice (just a little) patience.  Thank goodness it doesn’t seem like the crew at Devils Backbone will make us wait long.

Visit their website here! and The Outpost Facebook Page Here.


~ by thebeerroad on March 24, 2012.

4 Responses to “What’s Next From Devils Backbone? A Visit To Their Outpost (And Through ‘Their’ Belgian Congo) Reveals Their Trailblazer Series Is Going To Make For An Interesting Ride”

  1. The actually have this on tap at TGIFridays believe it or not.

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