Virginia’s beverage industry is exploding with over 100 microbreweries and an anticipated 150 more to open by the end of 2015. What’s the best part about this trend? Touring, of course! Highway 151—which streaks through the Blue Ridge Mountains just past Charlottesville, Virginia, and through Nelson County—serves up prime beer tourism. It even has its own app for iPhone and Android called Nelson 151 with details about events, local attractions, places to stay and directions to the breweries, wineries, cideries and a distillery that are scattered along the scenic mountain highway.
Now that you’re sold on the Brew Ridge Trail as the best weekend trip in Virginia, let’s plot your course. Here’s a roundup of the must-stop locations:
1. Blue Mountain Brewery
Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, Virginia, captures everything you’re looking for from a Brew Ridge Trip: breathtaking views, good brews and food! They offer tours daily and you can order flights—several small samples of different beers—while sitting on the patio in the middle of a hops field. Blue Mountain has more than ten beers on tap. Bring a notebook to keep track of your favorites.
2. Silverback Distillery
Silverback Distillery crafts vodka, gin, whisky and bourbon from local grains. If you’re looking for a taste of moonshine and old-fashioned spirits, this is a must stop; they offer tastings every Wednesday through Saturday.
3. Berry Hill Winery
For a unique taste, Berry Hill Winery concocts exclusively non-grape wines. You might find such oddities as cantaloupe wine and peach wine, if you attend a tasting.
4. Wild Wolf Brewing Company
Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nellysford, Virginia, often hosts live music events, so you may want to plan to finish your day at their farm-to fork restaurant. Local brews, music and food are the perfect way to cap off a day in the Blue Ridge.
5. Bold Rock Hard Cider
Cleanse your palate with some fresh and crisp Bold Rock Hard Cider in their brand new tasting room. Founded by a Virginia native and a world famous ciderist from New Zealand, their crisp apple cider is sure to quench your thirst on a hot summer day.
6. Devils Backbone
Devils Backbone is a few miles up the road. This little brewery took home several awards from the 2014 Great American Beer Festival including Best of Show at the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest. Brewery tours are offered on Saturday. As a bonus, they also have wine by the glass and bottle for members of your party who don’t quite have a taste for hops.
Happy tasting and be sure to bring along a designated driver!
If your summer schedule is already too full to add one more trip, you can create your own tasting at home. Invite over friends and throw some burgers on the grill for a great summer bash. Here’s a menu of Virginia Brews to sample at your shindig!
1. Drake Tail by Alewerks Brewing Company
2. Primal Instinct IPA by Wild Wolf Brewing Company
3. Classic Lager by Blue Mountain Brewery
4. Azrael by Devils Backbone
5. Virginia Apple by Bold Rock Hard Cider