franpic“Friday, October 3rd … Thence 604 poles to the top of Devils Backbone to a Chestnut Oak we marked 31 miles. This day several of the horses had like to been killed, tumbling over rocks and precipices, and we ourselves were often in utmost danger. This terrible place we called Purgatory …”–Thomas Lewis, surveyor & mathematician

And this is how Devil’s Backbone Brewery, situated in rural central Virginia, came to be named.

Twenty years ago, while visiting Europe, Heidi and Steve Crandall had a traditional German beer and, like most of us beer lovers thought, we’ve got to take this home with us. Fast forward to 2008. Many beers later and many more travels led them to open a brewpub in their rural Virginia county. Clearly they weren’t the only ones with a thirst for good beer, as they exceeded their 10-year production projections within their first three years in business. They opened a brewpub, The Outpost in Lexington, Virginia, and began selling their beer in Maryland and Washington, DC.

“It was natural that we come to North Carolina, with our family ties to both Duke and Appalachian State, and our love of the mountains and outdoor lifestyle here,” Heidi said of their decision to expand to the south. The beer makes its Triangle debut on Tuesday evening, August 18.

Monday night, on the eve of the large-scale unveiling, Devil’s Backbone came to Raleigh to introduce themselves to the community … at, for some reason, the Natural Science Museum. They offered seven of their beers, many of which are national or international medal winners, brewed under the direction of brewmaster, Jason Oliver.

Monday night’s offerings included the Vienna Lager, Eight Point IPA, Gold Leaf Lager, Schwartz Bier, Beta Max Double IPA, Spider Bite Black Wheat IPA and Spring Duster Ale. Heidi enjoys the Schwarz Bier but said her favorite is a not yet released sour beer that may come on the market next year.

The variety of beers offered will appeal to every palate.

Want something light and easy drinking? Try the 4.3% Spring Duster Ale. It’s an easy-sipping beer, but therein lies the problem–Many a Saturday could go by the wayside with this one.

If you prefer your beer to stand up and announce itself, the Beta Max Double IPA will be your choice. This beer is not for those who kinda, sorta like hops. This is an in-your-face, who’s-your-Daddy, cry-uncle-from-the-bitterness beer. It will test the palate of everyone except the most dedicated hophead. I saw folks sipping and savoring it, but I have no shame and can admit when I’ve been defeated. Yes, hops, you win, I’m a wimp.

After a palate cleanse of Gold Leaf Lager I found my favorite in the Schwarz Bier, a 5% German-style black lager with a smooth malty taste. That was a beer I could definitely settle in with.

Because I’m a consummate reporter I felt I had a duty to sample all seven beers … for the sake of journalism. I can report they were all quite good.

You can try these beers for yourself on Tuesday. Starting at 5:00 Devil’s Backbone will be taking over the taps at all the Triangle Tyler’s Taproom locations. Check out their website, www.dbbrewingcompany.com to see what the offerings will be at each location.

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