The Devil went down to Virginia, and brought back with him some of the tastiest brews you’ll find this side of heaven. Are you ready for a swig of Devil’s Backbone?
Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company was originally founded in 2008 in Roseland, VA but just touched down in the Columbus market in March 2017. They’ve been debuting new flavors ever since, each hotter than the one before it.
“The response has been great and there are so many craft beer fans out there, they just care about the product, they just wanna try new good beers all the time,” says Brad Stickley, the brand’s Columbus Pathfinder. “People seem to be taking notice of what we’re doing, and they’re excited to see what we come up with next. We’re just trying to live up to the excitement.”
Every aspect of the brand centers around a nature-centric theme, from their philanthropic endeavors to the company’s name, which refers to a particularly treacherous stretch of trail in central Virginia where the beer is brewed.
“We’re all about community involvement, highway cleanups, cleaning up hiking trails, whatever we can do,” said Stickley, a 2008 Ohio State University graduate. “It’s really a great company to be involved with.”
Devil’s Backbone currently makes 17 different beers throughout the year, split up into four distinct groups. The brand specializes in lager-type beers, using a specific centuries-old brewing technique, but with a variety of modern twists to elevate the style.
“Our brewmaster, Jason Oliver, has a very Germanic influence—that’s why we specialize in lagers,” Stickley explains. “The Vienna Lager recipe actually dates back to the original Oktoberfest in Munich. It’s as authentic as it gets.”
The “Basecamp Favorites” are the core of the brand, including their #1 seller, the aforementioned Vienna Lager. A smooth, sweet 5.2 ABV brew with mild hops, the Vienna is their flagship beer and the one that accounts for 60% of their sales.
Other selections from that series include the Eight Point IPA, a bright, complex pale ale that is the second most popular in the brand’s lineup. The Gold Leaf lager is the closest to a typical American beer, while the Black Lager is a darker variation with more roasted malt flavor and hints of chocolate, and one that also has historical origins.
“The Black Lager recipe also dates back to a medieval German brewing style,” says Stickley, “it’s definitely the favorite as far as Devil’s Backbone employees are concerned.”
The latest variety to hit Cbus is the Danzig Baltic Porter, a rich, strong 8.0 ABV winter lager that just released locally this month. It’s part of the “Trailblazer Series,” which also includes their fall seasonal Pumpkin Hunter and the Sixteen Point IPA, similar to the Eight Point but twice as strong.
The third series in their repertoire is the “Daypack Group,” which features beers with a slightly lower ABV and packaged all in cans, which makes them good for drinking on the go. These include unique offerings like the spicy Ginger Brau and the tangy Pear Lager, a popular summer seasonal.
“These are all about being mobile, easy to drink,” says Stickley. “They’re light, crisp, you can crush a six-pack while you’re out tailgating or camping and you’re good to go.”
The Daypack’ group also includes their Cranberry Gose, a tart fall take on the hip sour beer trend that has been making waves in Columbus.
“It’s a super popular style right now and this is the perfect choice for Thanksgiving,” Stickley gushes. “I have no doubt this one is going to be big.”
The final group is the “Dead Bear” series, all dark Imperial stout beers including the Morning Bear, which is brewed with coffee beans, and the Wood Bear, crafted with flavors of oak and whiskey.
You’ll find Devil’s Backbone at an ever-expanding range of campus-area locations including World of Beer, Ugly Tuna, even the Gateway Film Center. You can also pick up a six-pack or two at all area Kroger, Giant Eagle, Campus Liquor or anywhere else you typically do your brewski shopping.
“There are tons of Columbus beers that are all great; we’re very beer positive. And if it’s good beer, we support it even if it’s not ours,” says Stickley, “but we think we’re doing something pretty special.”