Exquisite Blue Ridge Mountain retreat, DEVILS BACKBONE BREWERY, occupies a copious rural valley homestead in Roseland and includes a beautiful earthen wood-stoned gastropub, separate brew house, massive backyard party area and gorgeous mountain views of the beautiful pastoral landscape. Besides this distinguished Basecamp site, Devils Backbone also runs an Outpost brewery and tasting room down the road in Lexington. In town to enjoy August 2014′s 4th annual Virginia Craft Beer Festival, my wife and I hit Basecamp Friday evening prior to the event for a few suds.
Creating a total sportsman’s atmosphere, Basecamp’s pristine stone-towered columns, corrugated tin roof, cathedral ceiling, stuffed animals and rustic wood furnishings increased the intimate lodge feel. The spacious multi-roomed gastropub featured wooden floors and tables, several dining booths, glass-encased brewtanks, centralized bar (with two TV’s and black-boarded beer list) and outdoor deck (with red umbrellas). A varied pub menu included “field, forest, stream and pasture” items. Tortilla-chipped nachos (with jalapeno-cheesed roasted peppers and black beans), drunken mussels and the campfire burger made fine dinnertime fodder.
Previously, I’d only quaffed bottled versions of Devils Backbone’s two straightforward flagship offerings, Vienna Lager and Eight Point IPA. But these fair choices were bettered by several tapped draughts imbibed during my August ’14 sojourn. Each elegantly executed elixir elevated my peaceful easy feeling and complemented the panoramic splendor of the hilly Blue Ridge terrain. For starters, six German styled brews served as aperitifs, creating a delicate tone matching the next few tantalizing selections.
Impressively designed Trail Angel Weiss brought to mind world-class Bavarian hefeweizens by Franziskaner and Weihenstephan with its mild lemony banana-clove expectancy and honey-spiced crystal malt sugaring picking up a soft vanilla creaming. Equally soothing, Hasselhoff Lager layered wispy lemon-pitted hop astringency atop perfumed crystal malt sweetness. Approachable Smokehaus Lager balanced the dewy peat-smoked malting, mild cedar char and bacon fattening of a surefire German rauchbier against the sugar-spiced caramel malting and wispy dried fruiting of an amber lager. Dry Dortmunder lager, Tommy 2Fists brought docile grain pungency to lemony hop astringency.
Bettering most of its nebulous German styling, easygoing Alt Bier evenly blended subtly spiced grapefruit, tangerine, cherry and fig tones with Scotch-licked toffee snips. Gentle pinkish-cleared cranberry-soured cocktail, Crangose, offered a brisk lemon zing to pureed cranberry tartness and briny sea watering.
Following the parade of German beers were well-rounded Blue Ridge Hop Revival, a sharply citric Cascade hop-embittered medium body underscored by nut-breaded barley malts, delicate spicing and herbal peppering. Hybridized Hot Shots IPA placed mellow smoked jalapeno peppers atop the sunny citric splurge. Sessionable Spider Bite Black IPA toned down the black-peppered citric bite and piney bittering for black patent malts and wandering coffee-chocolate illusions.
Soft-toned moderation, Ale Of Fergus, and English Dark Mild, plied toffee, caramel and chocolate subtleties to peaty malts and leafy hops.
For dessert, hotshot Baltic Porter, Danzig, caressed bittersweet nut-toasted black chocolate with dark molasses, plum-dried black cherry and licorice.