Virginia beer industry growing by "hops and bounds" - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Virginia beer industry growing by "hops and bounds"

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It was another day at the office Wednesday for the team at Devils Backbone Brewing Company, working hard to top off the mounting demand for their beer.

"The word is amazing," said Heidi Crandall, Marketing Director for Devils Backbone.  "It's just been a joyride.  And it continues to be so."

Crandall, her husband, and their friend / brew master started Devils Backbone back in 2008.  In just five short years, they've gone from serving beer in a small brewpub (or "Basecamp" as they call it) in Nelson County to a full-scale commercial operation, with a second location in Lexington (The "Outpost"), and distribution in Virginia, Maryland, and DC.

"We'll probably finish out at about 25,000 barrels this year," said Crandall.  "Next year, we're looking at 45,000 with the expansion for 60,000 in our fourth year of production."

When they initially built the Outpost, the building was supposed give them the space they needed to grow over ten years.  It was completely full in less than two.  It's why they've already had to build large outdoor fermenters and why they're currently working on a second building that will house their bottling and new canning operations.

They've also had to double their staff.

"We're constantly moving 120 miles an hour here," said Nathan Olewine, Head Brewer at the Outpost.

As fast as they're making beer, people are drinking it.  At Wine Gourmet in Roanoke, store owner Brian Powell says it feels like a new Virginia beer is popping up on his shelves everyday.

"Whether it's Parkway or Sunken City, or even Flying Mouse which is the newest [brewery] located in Daleville, we're happy to support those local breweries as they grow and expand the Virginia alcohol scene," said Powell.

He says it also seems like he's having to order more of it everyday.

"All of our local brews that are in distribution are selling very, very well right now," said Powell.  "To the point of having to get them delivered weekly."

Virginia beers are also starting to make a splash nationwide.  At the 2013 Great American Beer Festival in Denver -- one of the premiere beer competitions in the US -- Virginia brewers took home 14 medals, which is the fourth highest among all states (Virginia came in behind only California, Colorado, and Oregon).

Devil's Backbone won six of those medals and was named the "Best Small Brewing Company in America".  It's the second straight year they've won a national title at the event.

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