The early days of craft beer (those of us who remember them) remember an industry overwhelmingly driven by a unique and singular concept we like to call ‘coopetition’. The rising tide of craft beer’s popularity would float all our boats, was the unwritten understanding. So while we are all trying to make the best beer (and yes, sell the most of it), we’d not let those goals deter us from the higher collective calling we all feel, both to each other and the craft beer loving community as a whole.
So in that spirit of coopetition, a few of North Carolina craft beer’s ‘old guard’ have once again decided to resurrect a piece of #NCbeer history – and brew a reminder of why ‘coopetition’ remains essential to the continued growth of craft beer.
A little history: back in 2009 a lot of the concepts we now accept as mainstream in craft beer were still in their infancy. Like collaborations, for instance. One day that year, after a festival, three North Carolina brewery owners were discussing (over a beer, naturally) some of the brewing collaborations they’d seen popping up around the country.
(by the way, those three owners represented, at the time, 10% of all North Carolina breweries. Today that meeting would represent less then 0.5% of all NC breweries.)
At the time, all three breweries — Olde Hickory, Duck Rabbit and Foothills – were barrel aging beers (another concept in its infancy at the time), and decided to blend their three respective barrel aged stouts into one amazing collaborative brew.
Thus was born Olde Rabbit’s Foot -the first-ever collaboration beer brewed in North Carolina.
Understand, the challenges of pulling this off were myriad – but crazy as it seemed, take on those challenges they did. The beers – Olde Hickory’s Event Horizon and Duck Rabbit’s imperial stout called Rabid Duck – were sent here to Foothills, where they were blended with our Sexual Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout , then aged in 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle’s bourbon barrels.
The resulting product had craft beer fans lined up outside our doors for the years (2009 through 2012) that the beer was made. It also paved the way for the many, many collabs that followed — statewide and nationwide.
The Olde Rabbit’s Foot project eventually got sidelined as the industry grew, and each brewery got busier and more successful. But every time Steven Lyerly (Olde Hickory), Paul Philippon (Duck Rabbit) and Jamie Bartholomaus (Foothills) would see each other, the same conversation would surface: “That was fun! It’d be cool to do it again.”
the 2021 vintage marks the first time Olde Rabbit’s Foot has been brewed since it was revived in 2017. “This beer makes me think about the collegiality that first drew me to this wonderful industry,” says Paul. “We’re beer lovers and we want each other to succeed. Brewing a collaboration beer like Olde Rabbit’s Foot puts that face forward. We’re also veterans in this industry, and I enjoy how a collaboration that spans as many years as Olde Rabbit’s Foot affords an occasion to reflect on our shared history in North Carolina brewing.”
Steven agrees. “It’s just as cool today as it was in when we first brewed it that friends can and do pull this fantastic beer together,”
Adds Jamie, “These guys are our friends. We’ve been peers a long time. This provides a little continuity to the past of North Carolina beer.”
Come celebrate with us as we welcome back an old friend.
- ORF will go on tap simultaneously at our pub and tasting room, as well as at all three Olde Hickory Brewery locations and The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery on Friday October 1st.
- Bottle sales will begin at 8am at Footnote, 11am at our brewpub and 12pm at our tasting room.
- Price is $20/bottle, no bottle limit on purchases.