Rockbridge County, Virginia
Story By Jennie T. Williams
Just two years and four months after opening  the doors of Devils Backbone Brewing Company , Steve Crandall and DBCC are on yet another beer-making adventure. Rumors have been swirling for weeks, but the final approval came just last week.
Steve, the owner of one of Nelson County’s booming craft breweries, announced this week that he will be opening a production company that will allow DBBC (winner of the Small Brewpub of the Year and the Small Brewer of the Year awards at the 2010 World Beer Cup ) to bottle and sell beer throughout the commonwealth. Steve said he plans to have at least three beers – the Eight Point IPA, the Gold Leaf, and the Vienna Lager – bottled and available year round while featuring seasonal beers through the year. Brewing operations at the DBBC pub and restaurant will continue as usual. The Rockbridge operation is an additional facility for bottles.
While Nelson County was Steve’s first choice of location, a technicality surrounding the sewage treatment plant available caused him to move out of county with his production brewery, which will be located in Rockbridge County, just north of Lexington.
“Everybody in [Nelson] County – from the board of supervisors, to the sewer and water people, to the economic development people, to the electric co-op – were supportive of what we were trying to do,” Steve was quick to say, explaining that the sewage discharge from a brewery is much more difficult to breakdown than typical human waste.
Spearheaded by head brewer Jason Oliver, the Rockbridge facility will be able to have a 30-barrel brew system, compared to the 8-barrel system they currently have at their Roseland brewpub. What Steve is most excited about, though, is the definite possibility of job creation with this new facility – starting with an additional brewer.
“We hope to be able to generate about 10 jobs in 5 years … and we’ve got tremendous room for growth,” said Steve, as he chronicled the booming craft brewery industry that has experienced tremendous growth as people become more interested in buying locally. Steve, like many local brewers, encourages local farmers to grow hops to sell to these craft breweries and in addition to supporting farmers, DBBC has created roughly 45 jobs during these tough economic times.
“A lot of stuff happens, I think, for the right reasons. You know, you put a team of people together, you get people to support what you’re doing and you have a little bit of luck mixed into the equation and you’re going to see some success,” said Steve. “Based upon the support the community has given this restaurant … and the brewpub here in every way. In all of our thoughts and processes, we are thinking about how we can support the community.”
“We’re just generally trying to be good neighbors.”