After our visit to Blue Mountain on Thursday, 3/13/14, we took a scenic drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains over to the brewpub that serves as a basecamp for Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, VA. Devils Backbone has incredible views in the valley where they are located close to the Appalachian Trail and was awarded Small Brewpub & Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year in 2012 as well as Small Brewing Company & Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year in 2013. We lucked into our visit there after running into COO Hayes Humphreys over at Three Notch’d Brewing the night before, who set us up to meet with head brewer Jason Oliver and assistant brewer Aaron Reilly.
From there we drove up to Jamestown and went on an archeologist-lead tour about the area, which was quite interesting. Afterwards, we stuck around so that Haggis could ask the guy about beer, and he said that Jamestown might be the first place that beer was brewed in America. That is not confirmed, but we’re going with it – we visited the site of America’s first brewery – hell yea. He suggested that we go to AleWorks in Williamsburg, so we picked that up on a whim. After that, we made our way to Hardywood Park Craft, and then spent the night at Capital Ale House in Richmond. That night was pretty sweet, because Capital Ale House knew we were coming and had blasted it through their social media, so we got to meet with and talk to a few fans. One of them was a guy we had met back in Dallas at our going away party, Tony Crawford, and he hung out with us most of the night. The next day we went to Strangeways and then got to check out Mekong which has been voted as the best beer bar in America. While there, Tony met up with us and so did Shannon, a girl we had met the night before. We all ate, drank, and had good times, before Tony headed off for the night and Haggis, Shannon, and I went back to our hotel where we spoiled ourselves by hanging out in the hot tub.
The next morning Haggis and I ate more than we needed for breakfast, and then we made our way to Midnight Brewery at 9am, followed by Licking Hole Creek at 1130am where I got to ride around the land on an ATV. It was the earliest day we had so far, so afterwards we had time to go to Monticello where I ninja kicked Thomas Jefferson respectfully, and Haggis made out with him lovingly. We weren’t sure of what to do that night, so we drove into Charlottesville, NC and hung out at Three Notch’d Brewing. We were originally just going to be there unofficially to hang out, but after liking what they have going on and feeling it was perfectly in-line with what we’re doing, we picked them up as an official stop. Afterwards, we slept in the van again in a parking lot nearby.
We awoke in the van and drove a short distance to Subway for breakfast (again), then had a busy day going to Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, the Blue Mountain Barrel House in Arrington, and the Devil’s Backbone brewpub in Roseland. All three had amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all three places were very fun to hang out at – the people that work at all of these breweries are badass. Rather than stay the night in that area, we drove all the way up to Dumfries, south of DC. We stayed the night with my sister’s father in-law, Chuck, who talked with us about fascinating subjects. He is incredibly intelligent and had a lot of interesting stories to tell us – both Haggis and I wish we had more time there to really pick his brain about some things. Most of the next day was spent writing and then we drove up to Alexandria to meet with another friend of ours.
Amber is a friend of ours from the Dallas beer scene and she just moved up to Alexandria for a job, but her husband Eric, another friend of ours, is still back in Dallas. The three of us went out to dinner that night and then went back to her place. I got a kick out of being able to tell Eric I slept in his wife’s bed that night, even though she was two stories up on a couch. The next day was Haggis’ 29th birthday (WHAT WHAT) so we went to DC Brau Brewery off the record and indulged in some good beers. After that, we met back up with Amber at her place, popped a bottle of Cigar City Amplitude that we had been holding on to, and then went to Port City also off the record to enjoy even more beers. She then drove us (yay, a DD!) over to eat some Korean BBQ with some of her friends before the five of us went back to Amber’s and proceeded to drink the night away. Again, it was Haggis’ birthday, and he had a good one.
The next day, Amber, Haggis, and I drove into DC to try out a rare cask of Cantillon Iris Grand Cru up at ChurchKey and ended up staying for a while to try quite a few more crazy beers – that place has such a ridiculous selection! Our drive up there was madness, though, as a lot of the streets in DC were blocked off for some marathon, so it took us about 3 times as long as it should have. After ChurchKey we walked over to Shake Shack and got a cheeseburger and a peanut butter shake, then made our way back to the car and Amber drove us back to her place. We chatted for a little longer over a bottle of Bruery Bois and then said our goodbyes, since it was time to make our way to another friend’s place in Maryland just east of DC. When we went back outside to go to our van, though, it had started snowing flakes that were larger than I’ve ever seen in my life (but that’s not saying much).
To be continued…
Our final brewery visit in Asheville was on Tuesday, 2/25/14 to the first and longest standing brewery in the area, Highland Brewing Company. The brewery originally started in 1994 in the basement of Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria in the heart of Asheville and their first beer was the Gaelic Ale. For a few years, Highland was only sold on tap through kegs at Barley’s, but started gaining popularity fairly quickly. We got to speak with Asheville native and employee of Highland, Drew Stevenson, while we were there, and he informed us that downtown started to really get refurbished in the late 80s / early 90s just before Highland began brewing their first beer.