What’s a festival without good beer? Limited merriment…that’s for sure.
And since we’re celebrating festivals all across the Blue Ridge Mountains this May, we thought we’d also take a “merry” detour to some of the great breweries dotted among the hills and trees in Virginia.
The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail
One can’t-miss experience this summer is the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. Complete with some of the nation’s best brews, fresh farm-to-table meals and amazing views, the 15 breweries on this trail all sit within an hours’ drive of each other. Plus, you’ll find no shortage of outdoor activities in the Shenandoah Valley, which you can enjoy before or after your brewery experience.
Each brewery along the trail has a unique story behind their brand and their flavors. In the end, they all lead back to the things in life that really matter – community, family, friendship and living life to the fullest.
In Rockbridge County, you’ll find a few of our favorites, separated only by a relaxing (and responsible) 20-minute drive.
Devils Backbone Brewing Company
Drawing inspiration from refreshing craft beer enjoyed while on a ski trip in the Alps, founders Steve and Heidi Crandall, set out to bring that same exhilarating experience of craft European-style beers to the Blue Ridge Mountains. What resulted was the Devils Backbone Brewing Company, aptly named after the title given to the mountainous region by eager, patriotic surveyors some 300 years ago.
The resolute dedication to the process of slow craft-brewing with only the finest ingredients—“Slow by Nature” has become a way of life at Devils Backbone Outpost Tap Room & Kitchen.
When you visit, be sure to enjoy a Saturday tour of the custom-built brew house, featuring a 120 barrel Rolec Brewing system. If you’re wondering what to try, European-style lagers are their sweet spot. But let’s be honest…everything they brew is delicious. Stop in for a glass of your own “Slow by Nature.”
Great Valley Farm Brewery
If you are looking for a “brew with a view”, Great Valley Farm Brewery is the place to be. Undoubtably, it is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever be able to sit back, relax and sip on a quality Belgian-style ale brewed to perfection with ingredients grown on their own farm.
Owners Nathan and Irma Bailey actually began their journey in the world of fermentation with their very own vineyard 7 years ago. The grapes are still sold to local wineries and occasionally used in their beer.
But the biggest “cool factor” we love about this vineyard setting is the unmatched experience it creates for your visit. Set atop a crest with the vineyard spanning the rolling hills below you and hues of the Blue Ridge Mountains blanketed across the horizon before you, the Great Valley Farm Brewery provides the perfect backdrop for your visit.
And the brew matches the view. Their Belgian-style ale has become a favorite of the locals, but plenty of other craft options are available, such as IPAs, English Ales and German Lagers.
The newest brewery to “hit the trail” in Lexington and surrounding areas, Heliotrope Brewery, will deliver a varied, but equally enjoyable experience. Owners Erik Jones and Jenny Davies are currently working hard towards a summer open date.
Their adventurous spirits have taken on the renovation of an old storefront on South Main Street in Lexington. Between the newly exposed brick walls and the enviable downtown location, this pub is sure to buzz with a constant stream of locals and visitors alike.
Their motto, Pax Soles Fermentum, loosely translated to mean “Peace, Sunshine and Fermentation”, supports their passion and goal—to brew “to the seasons, using locally sourced ingredients.” They’re even going so far as to culture up their own wild yeast strain from right in Rockbridge County. It doesn’t get much more local than that.
They’ll be crafting ales and lagers that have been carefully cultivated and chosen to represent the beauty, goodness and complexity of the Shenandoah Valley. Follow them on facebook for continual updates and progress.
Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County, VA
Whether you’re traveling through or making the Shenandoah Valley your destination, don’t miss these three unique and tasty experiences along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.
For more information about Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County, VA, visit us at LexingtonVirginia.com.