Foothills Brewing

Musings and Mashings

Sharp Wit

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That beer in your hand? It’s come a long way.

It made it to your pint glass from a keg, can, growler or bottle. Before that it sat in a fermentation tank, little yeast cells happily munching away at its sugars. And before that, it began with two simple ingredients – grain and water.

The moral of this little story? Great beer starts with great grain.

Here at Foothills, we source grain from all over. A good portion comes from Canada (ay) where wheat is the #1 crop grown. We also import grain from Germany, and get a healthy amount from right here in the U.S. as well – mostly from Breiss Malt (who incidentally also make a mean malted milk ball).

That said, we’re always committed to buying local whenever possible. Whether it’s beer packaging, beer equipment or beer merchandise, we’ve a long list of local suppliers.

Beer ingredients, however, has been another story.

North Carolina, while blessed with abundant annual crops of tobacco, corn and sweet potatoes (we’re the #1 state for producing those sweet spuds), ingredients for beer – mainly grains and hops – have traditionally been in short supply in our state.

But that’s changing . . . thanks in large part to pioneering entrepreneurs like Carolina Malt House. Nestled on 60 pastoral acres right in the middle of North Carolina’s grain belt, CMH is quickly making a name for themselves with NC breweries. Why? Well, just like wine, the soil that ingredients grow in plays a big role in the ultimate flavor profile. And North Carolina’s central region of gentle, hilly grasslands has the ideal soil and weather for growing top-quality grains. In fact all of Carolina Malt House’s grains come from a tight 30-mile radius surrounding their operation.

So why not incorporate those native North Carolina flavors into a beer brewed in North Carolina?

That’s the question our brewmaster wanted to answer when he reached out to Carolina Malt House to help with our newest seasonal, Good Ship Wit. Witbiers, as you can probably guess from the name, are heavily reliant on wheat for their flavor.  The style dates back to 14th century monasteries, where monks used a blend of herbs and spices with their fermentable grains (mostly wheat). Good Ship Wit stays close to that monastic tradition, using lime, orange, ginger, turmeric, coriander and lots of wheat – all 100% grown and malted right here in North Carolina by Carolina Malt House.

The short local supply chain allows us to use the malt at its absolute peak flavor.  Instead of traveling thousands of miles from somewhere like Germany, the wheat malt in Good Ship Wit travels less than 50 miles from field to brewery, changing hands only from farmer to maltster to brewer.

And, like Foothills, Carolina Malt House is dedicated to environmentally responsible practices. Most of their farmers employ no-till farming practices, preventing the topsoil erosion common in other grain-growing regions. Their wastewater is used for irrigation, and grains too small for malting go to feed local livestock.

Good Ship Wit is the perfect marriage of homegrown ingredients from Carolina Malt House and local craft brewing from your friends here at Foothills. Give it a try and let us know what you think! And look for more potential partnerships with local beer ingredient growers in the future from Foothills.

Good Ship Wit is available in 12-oz. bottle 6-packs and 12-oz. can 12-packs. Look for it where craft beer is sold in North Carolina.


Author: foothillsbrewing

Finely crafted beers available in NC, SC, TN, VA, WV, GA and DC.

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