Beerfest! Devil’s Backbone Brewery hosts the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival in Nelson County this Weekend

by | Aug 21, 2014 | EAT DRINK

The Virginia Craft Brewers Festival is taking place at Devil’s Backbone Brewery in Nelson County for the third year this coming Saturday, August 23. With over 50 breweries entered into the competition and 222 beers in the running for Best in Show and other categories, this year promises to live up to the past years and then some.


The Virginia Craft Brewers Festival is taking place at Devil’s Backbone Brewery in Nelson County for the third year this coming Saturday, August 23. With over 50 breweries entered into the competition and 222 beers in the running for Best in Show and other categories, this year promises to live up to the past years and then some.

Caryn Foster-Durham of Charles-Ryan Associates, the business who handles communications for the Craft Brewers Fest as well as working with the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, explains the idea behind the organization in general and this weekend’s festival in particular. “The Guild is a nonprofit organization. The idea is to help brewers of all sizes combine their resources. Brewers are such a collaborative bunch anyway, but this is a way for them to help with legislation like SB 604, or the Farm Brewery Bill, or it’s also just a way to say ‘Hey, where do you get your bottles?'” says Foster-Durham. “The Guild [itself] has no way to make money, though, so the Brewer’s Fest was put together as a way to raise money to fund the Guild.”

Because of the vast participation in the festival in the past years, the judging for the competition takes place on August 16th, while the festival occurs on the 23rd. “We have a lead judge, we use BJCP (Beer Judge Certification), and we judge in all the different categories.” The winners of each of the categories before best in show will be introduced at the festival before the Best in Show judging takes place. This leaves only the Best In Show judging to take place at the actual Festival. The winner of Best in Show will be awarded a trophy that Foster-Durham jokingly calls a “wonderful monstrosity.” “It’s a bunch of kegs put together, deconstructed,” she elaborates.

Many Richmond and surrounding area breweries are in the running for the trophy this year, such as Hardywood, Legend, Ardent, Strangeways, and Triple Crossing. Funding, and maybe a huge trophy, are not the only things the participating brewers will receive. “One of the benefits that we do for each of the brewers is that we provide them with their score sheets so they can see how the beers rated and what the comments for the judges were,” says Foster-Durham.

There is a ton of craft beer from all over the state for Festival attendees to enjoy this weekend. However, if you’re under 21 or a designated driver and are worried this won’t be the most fun place for you to be, don’t fret. The festival definitely wants to encourage people to bring a designated driver, so as to make sure everyone gets home safely. Therefore, to sweeten the deal for those designated drivers, there are special alterations added to the tickets of underage persons and designated drivers. “The brewers have donated things for goody bags for designated drivers,” says Foster-Durham.

Plus, there are some non-intoxicating brews available for everyone’s enjoyment. “Devil’s Backbone brews homemade root beer!” Foster-Durham says, and goes on to mention some other choice food options that will be available. “We added additional food vendors this year! Fun stuff, like the Big Cheese Truck.”

The Craft Brewer’s Fest also has activities for people of all ages. There will be three bands performing this year, including Richmond’s own No BS! Brass Band. People are also welcome to bring whatever games along that they would like, such as cornhole or bocce ball. And when it’s all over, you are welcome to camp out for the night. “You can camp [outside of the Devil’s Backbone Basecamp], but this year we’ve added covered ground shelters, or ‘glamping’ sites… for folks that want to do more upscale than tent camping,” Foster-Durham says.

As we’ve told you, August is Craft Beer month in Virginia, and this event in Nelson County is the perfect way to celebrate. Hurry to get your ticket, as last year the event sold out online before the event started! Tickets can be ordered here: http://vacraftbrewersfest.com/tickets/

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.




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