The Blue Ridge Mountains are a gorgeous destination unto themselves, but the Brew Ridge trail of breweries provides just a little added incentive.
The giant, cabin-style brewery of Nelson County's Devils Backbone Brewing in the middle of a sprawling field with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background is as fine a place as any to start. A gorgeous view of the valley and big stands of Cascade hops for tourist photos are nice and all, but its Gold Leaf Lager, Baltic Coffee brew and Danzig Porter are award-worthy.
Nearby in Crozet, former Charlottesville brewer Starr Hill Brewery found plenty of room to make its Lucy summer ale, its Festie lager and pumpkin porter among the mountains while still sponsoring shows at Charlottesville Pavillion and Jefferson Theater as well as its own FloydFest. The Home of Thomas Jefferson and the Dave Matthews Band still boasts South Street Brewery, and its live music and such laid-back brews as the hoppy Olde 420 Stout. Still, it's tough to compete with an outdoor patio at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, shaded in arbor, featuring mountain and farm views in almost every direction and sheltering drinkers enjoying its Full Nelson Pale Ale, wee heavy, imperial pumpkin and barrel-aged chocolate cherry bourbon stout.