The Best Eats and Drinks ALONG the Brew Ridge Trail
Living in Lynchburg fortunately puts us in very close proximity to the Brew Ridge Trail. You know—that beautiful stretch of country road that happens to be dotted with some of the country’s (yes, the country’s) best breweries and restaurants? And every year, new destinations are popping up, including a distillery and cidery. This summer, set aside some time and spend a beautiful warm day navigating your way down the mountain, enjoying every sip and bite.
I grabbed a group of friends (and a designated driver), and we left Lynchburg on a gorgeous sunny Saturday. We decided to start our day further than any of us had been—Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet, which is actually north of I-64. It was full of friendly people both working and hanging out. Dogs are welcome on the patio, there is loads of merchandise for sale if you need a new t-shirt, and the windows were open providing ample fresh air and sunlight. After a sampler of mostly stouts (my favorite), we headed back to Route 151 and what was supposed to be our original starting point, Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton.
You’re most likely familiar with Blue Mountain beers such as the Classic Lager, Full Nelson or maybe the summer beer Rockfish Wheat. Most in my crowd chose a pint of the Kölsch 151, a German-style ale that’s clean and crisp. There is a lively outdoor seating area or an open, relaxed space if you choose to be inside. The staff couldn’t be more eager to educate you, pour you a flight, or serve up one of their signature pizzas.
The pizza dough at Blue Mountain is rolled by hand, the crust served thin with hints of herbs, olive oil and honey. It is as good as it sounds. Give the veggie with goat cheese, caramelized onions, squash, pesto, roasted mushrooms and mozzarella a try or you may find yourself leaning over another popular pie “The Local Sausage,” made with sausage from Double H Farms in Nelson County. It pairs nicely with the Chocolate and Coffee Dark Hallow Stout.
Finish your pizza and pint and hop in the car for a quick ride. Prepare to switch gears as you enter Silverback Distillery. The tasting room is on the smaller side but it adds to the fun to be elbow to elbow with strangers who soon become friends. The knowledgeable staff educated us about their liquors and made helpful suggestions. I had a Smoked Old Fashioned with Honey Rye, white oak smoked glass, maple syrup and angostura bitters. It was hands down one of the best cocktails I have ever had. I bought a bottle of the Honey Rye and a bottle of the award-winning Strange Monkey gin. Others enjoyed variations on the Moscow Mule with apple cider or cranberry juice. Before you leave, make sure to take a photo with the life size Silverback gorilla at the entrance. It’s sort of a rite of passage and always a great take away.
After our photo op, we headed west to Wild Wolf Brewing Company. The grounds and facilities are reason enough to travel to Nellysford and check this place out. There is a lot to see, a full menu to enjoy and great people watching. Unfortunately on our visit, there were so many people that there were no clean glasses for us to try the beer, but we will definitely be back. (If that isn’t a good sign that people love their beer, I don’t know what is.)
Keep winding west and stumble upon my favorite stop on the trail, Bold Rock Cidery. Park and walk up to the tasting room, abuzz with families and friends enjoying food and cider. You will love the charming, rustic barn feel if you sit inside. The setting outside is dotted with fire pits, rolling pastures, a trickling stream and cows casually grazing nearby.
There are many ciders to choose from—I choose pear (released in 2014) on this particular day and the bubbles and icy crispness are reminiscent of champagne. We don’t get to relax here as long as we would like as we have one last stop on our tour.
We load up a final time and head to Devils Backbone Brewing Company. My son and I came here with our families three or four times in his first six months of life. That’s one of the most unifying and attractive factors about each of these spots. They aren’t just for boozing (but certainly you can). There are crackling fires, delicious food, outdoor games, music, friendly people, a comfortable atmosphere and plenty more for people of all ages and interests.
Everyone in my group knows what they like at DBB.
My husband’s favorite is the Vienna Lager—our refrigerator is never without a six-pack of this particular beer. Although I like the food everywhere along the trail, the food here knocks my socks off each time. Maybe it’s the soft and chewy Bavarian pretzel with beer cheese, the full racks of juicy ribs or the Virginia Sausage Platter—there is literally something for everyone.
And when pulling into the parking lot you can’t miss the construction going on at Devils Backbone as last year they were acquired by Anheuser-Busch. There seems to be a lot of exciting changes happening around the property that is such a fantastic place, run by deserving people who really love and know their beer.
No matter where you start or end or which breweries you enjoy, I am confident you will find a common thread on your trip: experts with a love of beer or spirits and a dedication to what they do, serving locals and travelers alike who have come together to enjoy and share in a unique and delicious experience.
Sip and Savor Safely!
Consider Making Brew Ridge Tours Your DD
If you’re ready to plan your own 151 trip and want someone else do the work and the driving, I recommend Josh Pratt of Brew Ridge Tours. He is a true professional and ready to take your crowd up the mountain.
“Brew Ridge Tours is the first and only Lynchburg-based brewery tour. Our goal is to make sure you have a great day, stress free, brew-full, and then get you back to the Burg safe and satisfied,” says Josh.
To book your trip simply go to their website, www.brewridgetours.com, select the date and tour, pay, and you’re good to go! You can book months in advance so go ahead and plan a tour for fall when the leaves are starting to change. You will have it to look forward to all summer long.
Brew Ridge Tours conveniently has two locations for departures. One in Forest at Fiesta Tapatia on Route 221 and one in Lynchburg behind The Water Dog on Jefferson Street in Public Parking Lot M.
“Tours can be to one location and up to three and ranging in time from four to eight hours. We offer tours as simple as transportation only to all-inclusive with lunch or dinner, private tastings, VIP tours and SWAG. We also provide private tours for special events like birthday parties, bachelorette/bachelor, wedding parties, etc. We are a full-service touring company and offer tours to wineries and distilleries as well,” explains Josh.
Once booked, all guests need to do is remember their ID, pack a cooler, and bring a camera; they encourage taking lots of photos!