We were driving to Buggerall, Nowhere, to visit Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company. Fully half of their beers were IPAs, but their malt offering were well done, including a delightful shwartzbier and a Belgian strong. According to Google Maps, it was one of the few brewpubs on our route. The plan for the day was to drive 7 hours from Radford, VA to Gettysburg, PA, and stay next door to a promising brewpub. En route to Devil’s Backbone, we spotted Wintergreen Winery and stopped in, picking up a brochure about Route 151. Unknown to us, this valley had three breweries, a cidery, a distillery, and a half dozen wineries! We wouldn’t make it to Gettysburg this day.
The first stop, after discovering Route 151’s alcohol bona fides, was Bold Rock Hard Cider. Our experiences with cideries is limited, just because there are so few of them (someone: fix this deficiency!). Bold Rock was gritty and genuine, with a free tasting and a range of great ciders from sweet to very dry. We were happy to walk away with a 6 pack of the Virginia Draft and a bottle of Crimson Ridge Vat No.1 and give Bold Rock a definite stamp of approval.
Wild Wolf Brewery occupies an old, renovated school house, with wonderful water features and an expansive outdoor area. With an 11-beer tasting flight, we were hopeful, but ultimately disappointed. They reminded us of Terrapin in Athens- too many hops, not enough craft. Blue Mountain Brewery was our last stop on Route 151, featuring an impressive 10 beer tasting flight. Again, we were disappointed- the English Mild and the Barleywine both looked like Pilsners and tasted nothing like their stated styles.
Route 151 featured a promising array of alcohol tourism destinations, but ultimately did not fulfill that promise. We suspect that the high-maintenance skier population has skewed the breweries, forcing them to produce Coor Light-like beers in lieu of edgy craft beers. Still, the drive was wonderful and the experience was well worth it. Tomorrow, on to Pennsylvania!