Tour Roanoke, located in Roanoke, VA specializes in providing small group tours to breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, and restaurants in Blue Ridge area of Virginia. Think of them as offering fun “field trip” excursion for adults – except, alcohol!
This past week, I was given one of their newest tours as a birthday gift, and OH BOY it sure was a hell of a gift! Although the tour is focused on drinking craft beverages, you do get more out of it than just a day of drinking. Tour Roanoke does a great job of mixing the tastings with behind the scenes tours to see how each location operates.
What’s Included With Your Tour
• You’ll visit 4 craft venues along the Nelson 151 corridor.
• Tastings are included at each venue.
• A choice of lunch is included.
• A late afternoon snack platter is provided at the last venue.
• Behind the scenes tours at each venue.
• Water and snacks are provided on the bus, along with a bathroom break at a hallway point on the trip.
Stop One – Devils Backbone Brewing Company
So I will start off by saying that before going on the Nelson 151 tour, I was already a huge fan of Devils Backbone Vienna Lager. Devils Backbone has two locations, but the main one which they call “Basecamp” is located on several acres at the bottom of Wintergreen Resort in Afton, VA. It has a very Colorado-Ski feel, and I felt instantly relaxed and at home.
Their outdoor area is amazing! From a full outdoor bar, fire pit area with Adirondacks, and an outdoor restaurant – you can’t go wrong spending your day here with some great friends. Devils Backbone also has some pretty amazing food selections, which is coincidentally where our tour group had lunch.
But let’s not forget why you really go there – the craft brews! Whether you enjoy a light fruity craft or a bold hop, they really do have it all. Our tastings included a Crangose (a bitter fruity beer), A 1949 Lager, Schwartz Bier, Kollaborator Dopplebock, Ramsey’s Export Stout, and an Eight Point IPA.
Favorite: 1949 Lager and Eight Point IPA
Least Favorite: Crangose (it was a little too bitter for my taste)
Interesting Fact: This location brews their newest flavors and tests it out on their patrons, before making it a main seller on their menu.
Stop Two – Silverback Distillery
Next up, our tour group stopped at Silverback Distillery, also in Afton, and a Double Gold winner for their product! Silverback produces ultra premium vodka, gin, whiskey, and bourbon. Now, this is where I should disclaim that I am a strictly beer, wine, and cider gal. But my boyfriend sure enjoyed this part for the both of us.
Silverback is a smaller establishment and has a small outdoor and pet-friendly area where you can enjoy some nice sunny weather. They do have an upstairs area, equipped with some fun swinging benches…that’s right…indoor swinging benches! As part of our tour we were each given a VERY small shot of their vodka, gin, and grain. I must say that this is where I fail, as they all smelled and tasted the same going down – very smooth. You do have the option of purchasing one of their delicious mixed drinks though and they are highly recommended.
Favorite: The vodka and ginger beer mixed drink
Least Favorite: Can’t really say as I did not fully partake here
Interesting Fact: The main brewer actually came from a beer background.
Stop Three- Wild Wolf Brewing Company
After having perhaps way too much fun at the distillery, we were taken to the next brewpub, Wild Wolf Brewing Company. When you pull up, you think you are at a little village solely dedicated to beer! The property used to be a home garden center, which the owners have turned into an outdoor beer drinking paradise. This is also the point in the tour where I “lost” my phone and could not take any pictures. Oops.
As we sat outside, enjoying a rare 63 degree day in mid February, our lovely tour guides brought out our tastings.We had 5 selections to sample from – their popular Blonde Honey, The Wild Wolf Dubbel, Wee Heavy (this one tasted like bacon guys), the American Pilsner and their Alpha Ale. Now this is the point in the tour where i strategically sat myself at the picnic table that held all these delicious tastings and ordered myself a soft pretzel. Highly recommended.
Favorite: Blonde Honey
Least Favorite: The Wee Heavy (I felt that this was more of a breakfast beer…is there such a thing? There should be.)
Interesting Fact: Chefs here are very proud of their locally sourced menu. They get as much as they can from local farmers.
Last Stop- Bold Rock Hard Cider
Full disclaimer – this is probably one of my favorite places on earth. Their cider is amazing and I have no shame in admitting that I love hard cider. Bold Rock is situated close to Devils Backbone, and also has spectacular mountain views. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s situated by a small river where you can sit back and enjoy the scenery. Oh also, this is the point in the tour that I found my phone and cemented some strong friendships with a group of fabulous ladies. Alcohol really is a barrier buster.
Our kind tour guides set out (and had to guard) an array of appetizers which they brought for us, while our group went into the production facility for a tour and tasting. Our cider tastings included the Virginia Apple, Virginia Draft (my go to), Pear Cider (my other go to), their Vintage Dry (which surprisingly tasted like champagne), and their newest cider, the India Pressed Apple (my new go to).
Favorite: India Pressed Apple
Least Favorite: Water? seriously, there were no least favorites at this one. Alright, Alright. If I MUST choose, then I guess it would have to be the Virginia Apple. It was a bit dry for me.
Interesting Fact: The entire cider production process is done onsite.
Overall, A Must For Your Next Day Trip
While the Nelson 151 tour is a bit pricey (adults are $125), it is a full day’s trip and in my opinion well worth it. This was my second tour with Tour Roanoke, having been on their short Craft Beer Tour, and they are excellent guides, friendly and courteous. If you have a group of friends who want to make a special celebration out of it, they also give you the option of booking private tours! (not a plug, I swear).
Come discover the amazing craft breweries, cideries, wineries, and so much more that the Nelson 151 Tour has to offer. I promise that not only will you have fun, without having to worry about driving, but you will also meet some really cool people! Just make sure to call me so I can come too.