Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Devils Backbone Debuts in the United Kingdom with American IPA

by dbmanager Friday September 19, 2014 @ 15:51 PM

London, England - Devils Backbone Brewing Company today announced the launch of American IPA, the first of the brewery’s beers to be sold outside of the United States. The beer is an original Devils Backbone recipe showcasing American hops and brewed especially for the English palate. The inaugural batch was crafted by Devils Backbone Brewmaster Jason Oliver at Banks’s Brewery in Wolverhampton, England and will release on tap at 930-plus Wetherspoon pub locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland on October 1st.


The beer features a mix of English and classic American hops which give it a bright, snappy, hop character. The English hop varieties, East Kent Goldings and Admiral, provide the underlying bitterness and flavor while the American varieties, added late in the process, fill out the flavor profile and give the beer a West Coast style citrus-pine nose. Working at Banks’s allowed Oliver to try some different brewing methods. The beer is made using a single-infusion mash of Pale Ale malt and fermented in open vats, which is significantly different from Devils Backbone’s traditionally Germanic approach at home in the US. The experience left Oliver nostalgic for the early days of his brewing career: “I started out at an English inspired brewery in Baltimore, and brewing at Banks’s really took me back, especially seeing the open fermentations. You can smell them, almost hear them slowly churning, and all but touch them. They’re tangible, alive and something I haven’t experienced in a long time.”


Devils Backbone American IPA will be served exclusively at all Wetherspoon locations throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. The beer will be offered on draft, rather than as a cask, which improves the sharpness of the hop flavors. Devils Backbone was impressed with their new retail partner’s commitment to selection and freshness. “We visited quite a few Wetherspoon pubs and I was struck by the number of options offered to consumers, even in the country pubs, and by the knowledgeable managers we met who really cared about the quality of the beverages they were serving,” explained Chief Operating Officer Hayes Humphreys. “We’re confident that our beer will be well tended to.”

About Devils Backbone Brewing Company: Devils Backbone Brewing Company, the largest craft brewery in Virginia, is the current and two time Great American Beer Festival Small Brewing Company of the Year. The Company operates two breweries in central Virginia. Basecamp, which opened in 2008, is the company’s original brewpub and restaurant in Nelson County. The Outpost is a modern production brewery outside of Lexington. The company produces approximately twenty beer styles commercially, with many more experimental styles in production at Basecamp. Their beer is inspired by brewing traditions around the world. Vienna Lager, the company’s flagship, is one of the top craft brands in the nation, and continues to be one of the fastest growing. The company employs approximately 100 people, primarily at their breweries in Virginia. In the United States, Devils Backbone products are available only in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC.

Breakout the Lederhosen: O'Fest Release & Oktoberfest Party this Weekend

by dbmanager Monday September 15, 2014 @ 12:46 PM

In the Blue Ridge, the promise of fall abounds; nights are cooler, weekend tailgates are in full swing, the leaves are just beginning to turn, and the sun sets a wee bit earlier each day. At Devils Backbone, the upcoming O’Fest release also signals the change of season in the Virginia Heartland, and you are invited to partake in the festivities, and yes that includes wearing your best lederhosen!

Not going to make it to Munich for Oktoberfest this year? No problem, you can still get in the spirit state side.  Come on down to the Outpost Tap Room on Saturday, September 20 for the Devils Backbone O’Fest Release and Oktoberfest Party. At the Outpost party, grab a pint of O’Fest fresh on tap while wearing lederhosen and German colors for a chance to win DB swag—winners announced at the end of the night. O’Fest also makes its 2014 debut at Basecamp Brewpub on Saturday the 20th. Enjoy a pint or fill up your growler at either location.

O’Fest, an Oktoberfest-Märzen style beer and draught only release, is brewed with imported malts and hops and a traditional decoction mash. The reddish-amber brew is a nod to the time-honored Oktoberfest beers that originated in Germany. Although the beer style origin dates back many centuries, the first Oktoberfest was held a little over 200 years ago in Munich in 1810. The present-day Munich Oktoberfest celebration lasts over two weeks! Learn more about the history of Oktoberfest, the festival and beer style, here.

This weekend, join us as we say so-long to summer and hello fall wiht a pint of O'Fest.


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Devils Backbone Brewing Co. Earns Top Honors at 2014 Virginia Craft Brewers Fest

by dbmanager Tuesday August 26, 2014 @ 14:43 PM

Nelson County, VA • August 23, 2014: The Virginia Brewers Cup ended the day exactly where it began: overlooking the Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub. Devils Backbone Brewing Company once again earned top honors at the 3rd annual Virginia Craft Brewers Festival, hosted by the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild in Nelson County, Virginia. Devils Backbone took home 7 medals, including 4 gold medals, and swept the Best of Show awards in what is the largest competition held in the state. 51 Virginia craft breweries participated in the festival on an overcast Saturday, and the field of competition consisted of 221 beers across 23 categories.


Devils Backbone's Turbo Cougar, a blond bock, was awarded the overall prize for best of show. Their Smokehaus Lager and Berliner Metro Weiss took the Silver and Bronze Best of Show prizes respectively. Devils Backbone won an additional gold medal for their flagship Vienna Lager; a silver medal for Pear Lager and bronzes for their Schwartz Bier and their East/West India Pale Lager.


The brewers were surprised and ecstatic about the recognition: "I was hoping for a "hat trick" and we got a double hat trick," said Brewmaster Jason Oliver, referring to the company's third consecutive Best of Show award and the sweep of all three of this year's top honors. According to Nate Olewine, Head Brewer at the Company's Outpost Brewery, the wins don't come easily. “It’s a great pleasure to see our name on the Virginia Brewers Cup for the third year running.  I see first-hand the sacrifices our dedicated and determined staff make to produce such a quality product on a daily basis.  Truly a team effort!”


The Virginia Brewers Cup win adds to a growing list of accolades earned by Devils Backbone in the last 12 months. Devils Backbone won 6 medals and the overall prize for Small Brewing Company of the year at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival last October. That win was followed by two awards at  the 2014 World Beer Cup, and a slew of local consumer's choice awards. Their Vienna Lager was selected as the top beer in the 2014 Washington Post Madness, the 2014 Blue Ridge Outdoors - Best Blue Ridge Craft Beer and 2014 Best of Cville.


More than 2,500 beer enthusiasts joined the 51 participating Virginia Breweries at this year’s Virginia Craft Brewers Fest. The number of beers entered this year was nearly double the prior year and judging took place in advance of the event at Mad Fox Brewing Company in Northern Virginia. The competition was overseen independently by Master Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judge Tom Cannon along with 28 certified judges who volunteered their time for the event. George Stewart, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, presented the awards for Best in Show on behalf of the governor, who has once again declared August to be Virginia Craft Beer Month.


Devils Backbone Brewing Company is a regional Craft Brewery with two locations in the Virginia Heartland. The Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub, a full service restaurant with on-premise brewery, opened its doors in 2008 in Nelson County, VA and the Devils Backbone Outpost Brewery, a full-scale production facility and taproom, began operations in 2012 in Lexington. VA. Steven Crandall founded the company and Jason Oliver leads the brewing operations. At their Basecamp Brewpub, they have crafted well over 100 different styles of beer, approximately 15 of which have been scaled up for production and distribution from the Outpost facility. The company currently distributes its beers through wholesalers across Virginia, Washington DC and in Maryland.


In its five-year existence, Devils Backbone has been awarded 30 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, and 20 medals at the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest. Additionally, Devils Backbone earned two national titles, 2013 Small Brewing Company & Small Brewing Company Brewer and 2012 Small Brewpub & Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival. Devils Backbone has earned one international title for the 2010 Champion Brewery and Brewmaster Small Brewpub at the World Beer Cup. Their Basecamp Favorites flagship Vienna Lager won gold medals at both the 2012 Great American Beer Festival 20 and the 2012 World Beer Cup.







Media inquiries can be directed to Marketing Director Heidi Crandall at

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VA Craft Beer Month Reaches Midpoint

by dbmanager Friday August 15, 2014 @ 16:07 PM

It’s the middle of August, how is your Virginia Craft Beer Month going?  There are so many great craft beer events across Virginia any given month of year, but August really knocks it out of the park! You know what else rocks about August:  FIVE full weekends to enjoy craft beer and right now we are only on weekend number three!

Perhaps you attended the 2nd annual Hop Harvest Fest last weekend at the Outpost?  2014 festival goers and Whipple Creek Farms together picked enough cascade hops, that the hop picking machine was only fired up for demos on the day of the Hop Harvest.  The very next day, all 180 pounds of hops were brewed in the pilot brewing system at Basecamp as part of the Blue Ridge Hop Revival beer recipe, which will be available on draught later this fall. 

Or maybe you are headed to Devils Backbone for the Pumpkin Hunter release? Our Trail Blazer pumpkin ale is brewed with pumpkin and spices and in the words of Brewmaster Jason Oliver, “is frighteningly delicious!”  Debate exists over pumpkin beers hitting the market mid-August, the late summer pumpkin beer arrival has even been referred to as a victim of seasonal creep. Whatever your position, pumpkin beer abounds and Virginia lays claim to some outstanding pumpkin brews. And if you are not quite ready for pumpkin beer? Grab a six pack and hold on, fall is coming!

Basecamp Brewpub hosts VA Craft Beer Month events too - including Tuesday Burg and Pint nights, and special dessert creations like BEER FLOATS!  Bonus for August, grab a growler at the Brewpub and head outside for theater in the Blue Ridge. Sipping on Ale of Fergus while watching Macbeth? “All Hail the King of Scotland.”  Please and thank you!

And a much anticipated summer highlight is right around the corner: the 3rd Annual Virginia Craft Brewers Fest.  The festival is a great place to taste your favorite VA craft beers and maybe even add a new one to your list.  Brewers across the state have been crafting their year-rounds and brewing one-offs, all to share with you!

Our friends to the north are also celebrating craft beer…Maryland is wrapping up its craft beer week and the nation’s capital kicks off DC Beer Week this weekend! 


No matter where you are: hanging on to the end of summer or preparing for the start of fall, make craft beer a part of your adventure!


Virginia Celebrates Craft Beer Month

by dbmanager Friday August 1, 2014 @ 13:45 PM

August is here and that means Love is on Tap, Virginia!

In 2012, Virginia officially recognized August as Virginia Craft Beer Month, and to begin this year’s celebration, I submit to you my very first Devils Backbone Brewing Company blog post. 

In just three short months with Devils Backbone Brewing Company, I’ve witnessed DB receive a House Joint Resolution from the Virginia General Assembly commending the company for its leadership in the craft beer industry, seen the Outpost reach the 60,000 barrel production rate, and observed the first-ever run of tall boys roll off the canning line in the Outpost packaging hall.  I have watched Basecamp and the Pilot Brewery hit it out of the park with delicious dishes and tasty brews and marveled at the Striped Bass project and DBBC dedication to environmental stewardship. 

I’ve met folks who have been with the company since day one and bonded with the newbies as well.  We have camped together, tubed down the James River en mass and enjoyed shift beers at the end of our work days.

Earlier this week I participated in the infamous DB boot camp.  The intense, fun, info-packed sessions, provided a detailed look into the company DNA.   And in the coming weeks and months, I look forward to sharing more with you about Devils Backbone team adventures.

In the meantime, I encourage you to take advantage of the statewide celebration and enjoy VA Craft Beer wherever adventure takes you.



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The glorius return of Devils Backbone Pear Lager

by dbmanager Wednesday July 24, 2013 @ 17:25 PM
Pear Lager is making its triumphant return to our taps this August.  Currently it's in the fermenter, the pear juice has been added, and is just finishing up fermentation almost ready to start its maturation process.  This is the second year we've brewed this beer and it's been a real hit.  I really like this beer for two main reasons; the unique technical process involved and the delicate subtle character of it.  Being a brewer who is fully in love with the brewing process I love brews where I have to manipulate the process to get the most character out of a beer.    The technical: The Devils Backbone Pear Lager is created initially as low gravity (low strength) lager.  It's brewed in such a way that the base beer is light yet has enough residual body to hold up to the pear juice which ferments completely leaving no residual sugar or body behind. Creating a low gravity beer with some body is done by malt choice, water chemistry, and mash regime (process). Pear juice does not have a huge amount of sugar when compared to other juices. Pears taste sweet because they do not have a lot of acid to balance the sugar like other fruits do.  This is one reason why pear juice was chosen.  I didn't want the beer to be acidic like a cider, but rather like a beer with pear notes.  Pears are not the most aggressive fruits out there so we chose a light lager as its base (most fruit beers are ales) as to not drown out the pear flavor and to actually accompany it. Our lager yeast can produce subtle apple notes which seem to me complement the pear character.  We ferment our Pear Lager a little warmer to try to maximize that interaction.  We also first wort hop this beer, which is a technique that has come in vogue again and can help retain some of ones bittering hop additions aromatic character.  This beer is not a hoppy beer by any means, in fact quite un-hoppy but I still wanted to use hops to my advantage.  I chose a flowery hop variety to produce the minor amount of bitterness this beer needs for balance (and quite frankly to be called beer, beer needs hops to be called beer) which if any aroma survives into the beer would complement the fruitiness of this beer. We use pear juice concentrate which is like the juice concentrate in the freezer section of the supermarket, you know the stuff where you mix 3 cans of water to one can of juice concentrate to make juice.   We use concentrate that is twice as rich where it is a six to one ratio of one part pear juice concentrate to six parts water.  Here is where it gets fun (and why I use juice concentrate and not juice), we do not reconstitute the pear juice with water and add it to the beer, rather we use the low strength beer to reconstitute the pear juice concentrate not watering the pear flavor down! We do this toward the end of fermentation so the pear flavor is not "blown" out of the fermenter with the CO2 from the main fermentation.  We seal up the tank and capture the natural CO2 that is coming from the pear juice fermentation for natural carbonation (and retaining more pear flavor).  I think the Pear Lager is a fun beer to think about as a brewer.  It doesn't have the street cred as a hoppy double IPA but it does use some fun techniques and has its own set of challenges. The Character: Devils Backbone Pear Lager is a very pale, refreshing, delicate, and subtle beer.  The pear flavor & aroma do not overwhelm but compliment the character of this lager.  Its light bodied but not thin, aromatic but not pungent, has flavor but is not cloying, not sweet but not bone dry either.  I think it's a great example of a lager brewed with fruit.  Next time I brew this I will see about incorporating some Virginia pear juice alongside the pear juice concentrate.  We are located in orchard country so it would be a shame not to use some local pear juice for the third brewing of this beer; I just wish I could find some VA produced juice concentrate as it is one of the keys to this beers character.  Expect to see Devils Backbone Pear Lager on tap at DB Baseecamp & DB Outpost in late August, the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival at Basecamp August 24th, and select accounts in our region.   


JD Wetherspoons UK invitational

by dbmanager Wednesday March 6, 2013 @ 10:34 AM

Just a quick note from across the pond.  Having been back in the country for less than two weeks, I shoved off for a week in the UK to brew a batch of American Amber Ale at the Adnams brewery in Southwold England for the JD Wetherspoons Real Ale Festival.  It has been a great experience so far and everyone has been gracious and hospitable and have made me feel very welcome.  There is so much to write about that I'll leave it for another time (as I have to catch back up with some more stories from Australia first).  Anyway, I have been drinking nothing but cask conditioned real ale for the last four days and have been eating like a real Englishman.  I've had fish & chips twice, plowmans lunch, a Cornish  pasty, Venison & Mushroom pie, Cod, Haddock, and just had the traditional English breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, blood sausage, fried tomato, fried mushroom, sourdough toast, and tea. The UK is a great place and as a history buff it's nirvana.  It's wonderful to return to a place where our country once spawned from.  My fathers side of the family come from Wales and northern England so I naturally feel an affinity for the UK.  But I also feel an affinity for the beer. My first brewing job was at the Wharf Rat / Oliver's Breweries ltd in Baltimore and we brewed exclusively English-style ales using an English brewing system with open fermentation, the notorious Ringwood yeast, and English malt & hops. Much of my career had been specifically focused on Germanic brewing so it is nice to come back to ones roots.  Expect to see the American Amber Ale I brewed with Adnams to be re-brewed at Basecamp as well as other UK inspired ales.  Also, upon my return DB will start it's cask ale program. 

I'll write more about Adnams & the brew later.



Jason Oliver

DBBC Brewmaster


Australian Hops

by dbmanager Friday January 25, 2013 @ 7:08 AM

Philip and Masako from Thunder Road Brewing took me on a great road trip through northern Victoria last weekend which culminated at the Rostrevor Hop Garden. The Rostrevor Hop Garden is where Galaxy and Topaz hops come from.  Galaxy is becomes a sought after hop in the U.S. for it's bright citrus & passion fruit flavors.  Allan and Gail from Rostrevor Hop Garden supplied such gracious hospitality to us and were generous with their time. The hop garden is in a beautiful valley that has been growing hops for over a hundred years. It is really a stunning spot. The Rostrevor Hop Garden is on par in size with some Washington state farms.  There are two main farms in Victoria that grow hops, the rest of the hops grow in Tasmania which I will visit in two weeks.  Australian hops have a character all their own and share a certain pungency to certain west coast varieties but yet remain uniquely distinct.  Hopefully my friend "Sneaky Pete Velez" from  Hop Union will come through with some Galaxy for me to brew with upon my return.     



Devils Thunder Down Under

by dbmanager Wednesday January 23, 2013 @ 8:32 AM


I am in my second week here in Australia on the "Devils Thunder Down Under" collaboration with Thunder Road Brewing Company of Melbourne. So far we have brewed the production batches of American Pale Ale & Australian Pale Ale and pilot batches of an American-style IPA & American-style Dark Lager. Two days from now we'll brew a pilot batch of Schwarzbier.

Here is a video link about our collaboration. There is plenty more to tell so more will follow.

Cheers mate,

Jason Oliver - Brewmaster


TRB DB FINAL .pdf (155.26 kb)


Greetings from down under and the Devils Backbone / Thunder Road International Collaboration

by dbmanager Thursday January 17, 2013 @ 2:30 AM

Usually I would do a 2012 year in review but I was scrambling come the new year to tie up all my loose ends so I could head to Melbourne Australia to do a 5 week collaboration project with Thunder Road Brewing Company. The first part of the collaboration is to brew three hop aroma driven beers; an American Pale Ale, an Australian Pale Ale, and an International Pale Ale. In addition to myself, there is also a visiting brewmaster from the Czech Republic. We brewed the American Pale Ale on Tuesday with me as the lead brewer. It was hopped with Amarillo and Bravo hops and is currently bubbling away being fermented with American ale yeast. Today Marcus the Brewer / Production Manager is taking lead on the Australian Pale Ale, hopped with Stella & Galaxy hops. Next week Czech Brewmaster Martin will take the lead on the International Pale Ale which will include Agnus, Premiant, and Harmonie hops from the Czech Republic. Tomorrow I brew an American IPA on Thunder Roads 4 Hectoliter pilot brewery. I'll update as the collaboration goes forth as there are 6 more beers lined up.

Here is a link to the photographs of the first part of the collaboration.

Cheers from Down Under,

Jason Oliver




DB Blogger

Jean Hazelwood

Adventure enthusiast in pursuit of Vita Abundantior, and official blogger for Devils Backbone Brewing Company.  I'm dedicated to learning, living and sharing the DB adventure. What are you waiting for? Craft An Adventure!