Devils Backbone Wins Best Small Brewery of the Year

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Virginia wine wins awards all the time, but now the beer is shining in the spotlight.

Nelson County's Devils Backbone ranked as the best small brewery of the year at the Great American Beer Festival this weekend. Brewery employees traveled to Denver to enter the annual festival, and took home six medals for several brews.

They say they're just thankful to come out on top when going up against some fierce competition.

"We're really, really humbled by it because there are just so many tremendous breweries there: over 850 participating breweries, 5,000 different beers," said Steve Crandall, founder of Devils Backbone.

Crandall flew out to Colorado Saturday and came back the same day, but he says it was well worth the quick turnaround to win big at the largest beer festival in the world.

"For a little brewery here in Nelson County to do so well was pretty amazing," Crandall said.

More than 200 international judges scrutinized brews based on style and how a particular drink should taste based on its category.

Aaron Reilly, one of the brewers who develops recipes, lets us in on one reason why they've succeeded.

"We love to think of ourselves as being inspired by tradition, but not handcuffed to it," he said. "Another thing that really sets us apart here is just the water here in the mountains of Nelson County; our water is incredibly soft."

In addition to winning best small brewery, Devils Backbone also won small brewpub of the year.

This year they entered a total of 20 beers - 10 from the outpost in Lexington and 10 from the one located on the base camp.