Virginia Craft Brewers Fest is a soggy success


Soggy craft beer enthusiasts braved the rain at Devil's Backbone this weekend to celebrate the first annual Virginia Craft Brewer's Fest. Photo: Hunter Smith. Soggy craft beer enthusiasts braved the rain at Devil’s Backbone this weekend to celebrate the first annual Virginia Craft Brewer’s Fest. Photo: Hunter Smith.

Saturday, August 25th, was the inaugural Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, held on the grounds of Devils Backbone Brewing Company in nearby Nelson County. With over 22 participating breweries, Virginia’s craft beer surge has certainly earned itself its own day in the sun. Alas, that was not to be the literal case. After moving back into my remodeled home in the rain for six hours, I decided to clean up, dust off the rain gear, and head out to Roseland. Nearly halfway there, I remembered that there was a rainout date, so I called both Levi Duncan (Starr Hill) and Jason Oliver (Devils Backbone) to confirm it was on, heard that it was, and kept plugging.

We arrived to a busy scene of mud, trucks, tents, and happy people in ponchos. A tasting package got an attendee 10 tasting tickets, each redeemable for a 4 0z. sample. Having exhausted most of the offerings from local breweries on my own time, I tried to get around to other VA beers I haven’t had before. Some of the ones I sampled (alongside a fantastic Rock Barn Bratwurst) included the River Brewing Company’s ‘Peachicot‘ (sweet, syrupy and irresistable,) Hardywood Park‘s ‘Bourbon DIPA‘ (double IPA aged in Bowman’s whiskey barrels,) Port City Brewing‘s ‘Porter‘ (robust and fitting for the drizzle,) and O’Connor Brewing‘s ‘El Guapo‘ IPA (brewed with Agave.) I used my last ticket for a safe play, and went with one of my personal favorites, Blue Mountain Brewery‘s Dark Hollow (Bourbon barrel-aged stout.)

I also encountered a few folks from the world of wine, including Nick Dovel of Pollak Vineyards, and Jim Corcoran of  Corcoran Vineyards, and recently of Corcoran Brewing, Jim’s vineyard co-located nanobrewery.

Saturday’s hosts, Devils Backbone, took home the 2012 Brewer’s Cup (Best Overall) for their ‘Schwarzbier‘ (black lager.)

It was refreshing to see so many fans of Virginia Craft Beer enduring the rain, undaunted, and on a mission for more local goodness. Seeing this much enthusiasm behind a festival that only serves craft beers made in the Commonwealth makes me very excited to man my own booth next year.