Follow along as two members of Team DW&S check out Virginia’s longest-established Brew Ridge Trail.
The Virginia Brew Ridge Trail runs along a blue ridge valley in both Albemarle and Nelson Counties. It starts in Crozet, Virginia and ends on RT 29 in Nelson County. Join us as we take a Saturday drive filled with excellent craft beer, local food, and beautiful views. (Of course, we suggest a designated driver for this trail and any trail in DW&S magazine)
We start our Saturday at Starr Hill in Crozet, Virginia. The craft brand of Starr Hill was born in a music hall in 1999 and later moved to its current founding location in Crozet in 2005. This craft beer has deep roots in the history of Virginia craft beer. We wanted to start The Brew Ridge Trail here as a hat-tip to the past and to the trail. The Brew Ridge Trail is not only a collection of Virginia breweries, but it was also the first established trail in Virginia. So, cheers to this trail!
Starr Hill has 24 beers on tap, and local food trucks park just outside, next to the patio. Follow them on social media, and you will find a healthy calendar of live music. Love of music is still a cornerstone of this brand. The music is just one reason to stop by often…or maybe you are a fan of Geeks Who Drink Trivia Night too.
We continue on and follow The Brew Ridge Trail to Blue Mountain Brewery, along RT 151 in Nelson County. We are going to stop for lunch and enjoy a cold pint, the view and one of their favorite Reuben Sandwiches. The outdoor dining at Blue Mountain Brewery also draws a crowd of both locals and visitors. (It’s dog-friendly too) One night, we are going to return to watch the sunset behind the Blue Ridge Mountains and listen to some live music. But today, we are heading south along Rt 151—also known as the Nelson 151 Trail, another craft beverage, food and lodging trail crosses here.
Driving down RT 151, you notice the beauty of the region. Today’s ride will take you along the Rockfish Valley, with the Blue Ridge Parkway across the ridge to your right. You will see mountain ridges, farmland, and the Rockfish River. On this trail, bring your camera as you may want to mix some landscape photos with the beer shots.
South on RT 151, you will pass through the small community of Nellysford. Here is where you will find Wild Wolf Brewery. Upon arrival, you will immediately notice the shaded beer garden. You can sit, with your dog, under large shade trees and bright red umbrellas while enjoying a flight of beer. Enjoy some BBQ, a burger or something from Chef Chris Jack— “Farm to Fork at its Best.” Take a break and play some corn hole under the shade of those trees. A cold beer and a shady garden make for a great summer afternoon.
It is only a short drive to our next stop, Devils Backbone Brewpub, and Meadows. If you follow the DW&S social media pages, you may have seen Team DW&S camping at the new Devils Backbone Camp Ground. They have both RV and tent camping; so, this may be the perfect place to stop for the night. Reservations are required though.
For this visit, we decided to sit outside and order a beer from the bar in the meadows. We want to enjoy the view of the sun setting behind Three Ridges, spend the night and get back on the trail on Sunday.
To get to our last stop on The Brew Ridge Trail, you have two options. Do you like winding mountain roads with fabulous views? Or do you prefer a flat road and a quick trip? We opt for the mountain pass and follow RT 151 over Brents Mountain. We stop along the way to take some photos before turning left on RT 56 to head over to Blue Mountain Barrel House on Sunday afternoon.
If you prefer the flat and fast route, head back to RT 6 (via RT 151 North) and use it to cut over to RT 29.
Just as you would expect, the Blue Mountain Barrel House also pours many of your favorite Blue Mountain favorites. You can get a growler filled or pick up a six-pack to go too. We had a Classic Lager and enjoyed the Sunday afternoon view. The Blue Mountain Food Truck was parked on-site and provided some great afternoon snacks. A great way to end our visit to The Brew Ridge Trail.
We enjoyed exploring Virginia’s first beer trail; so, we reached out to Maureen Kelly with Nelson County Tourism to ask about the founding of this trail.
DW&S: As of the printing of this edition, Virginia has twenty plus beer trails, and growing yearly. Tell us what it was like to market Virginia’s first beer trail, over ten years ago. How did you successfully sell visitors on the idea of following a craft beer trail?
Maureen: Credit and honors go to the brewers and owners themselves. Each location has its own loyal following, but they realized early on that they would grow their visitorship better as a trail. Now we are known as a destination for craft beer lovers. And beer lovers love to talk about their travels, so we used them to promote the trail. The brewers collaborate regularly with one another, so it was easy to organize the group and ten years later, we are still having fun. This year we held our first festival, in February, and more than 700 folks attended.
On a special note, we would like to add that all of the pioneers of The Brew Ridge Trail have expanded over the years. You will find their taprooms, production facilities, and brands across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Recently, we congratulated Wild Wolf Brewing on the opening of their second Tap Room in Charlottesville, Virginia. Read about Starr Hill’s expansion into Richmond in this edition of DW&S magazine.
We hope to see you on a Virginia trail—Team DW&S.