Foothills Brewing

Musings and Mashings

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The NC Beer Month Challenge

Slide1 (2)Last month, we were brainstorming event ideas for NC Beer Month 2016. OK technically we were sitting around drinking beer but that passes for brainstorming here. Anyway the conversation turned to the truly remarkable growth of NC Beer.

Foothills first opened its doors in 2005. Since then:
•  Pop The Cap was signed into law, raising the ABV limit on NC-made beer from 6% to 15% (otherwise no Sexual Chocolate. Can you imagine?)
•  Asheville captured and held the title of Beer City USA for three years running
•  Industry titans Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium thought enough of the craft beer scene in North Carolina to build their east coast breweries here, collectively raising the barrel capacity of our state (previously around 200,000) by over a million and a half barrels
•  North Carolina breweries have won 38 Great American Beer Festival medals and 21 World Beer Cup medals

It’s been quite a decade. And we’re just getting started.

By the end of April (NC Beer Month), eleven years after Foothills became the 18th craft beer maker in this state, North Carolina will have 157 operating craft breweries – with another 45 in planning. Let those numbers sink in a minute. That’s more breweries than South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi — combined.

2014-nc-beer-monthWhich brings us to the NC Beer Month Challenge. The communal spirit of craft beer is well-documented, and manages to remain a brother(and sister)hood, even in the face of increasing commerce and competition. So we wanted to come up with something we could all do, big breweries and small, regardless of location or size. An important experience we could collectively share during NC Beer Month, with potential to raise awareness of our collective efforts and send a message to craft beer lovers nationwide.

Fortunately, as it turns out, there’s something very important we already share. Water.

It makes up roughly 93% of every bottle, every pint, every growler of craft beer. It’s the single most important natural resource to our industry. It deserves our gratitude, our respect, and our attention.

This month, at least from us, it’s going to get plenty of those.
We are challenging every North Carolina brewery, in fact every craft beer enthusiast statewide, to do something, anything, for their natural water resources this month, and post it online with the hashtag #NCBeerMonthChallenge.
Organize a creek cleanup. Meet with your local riverkeeper. Raise awareness with your customers and friends. Heck, we don’t care if you pick up a plastic water bottle out of a creek bed you happen to be walking by. Take a picture, hashtag it, and post it. You’ll have successfully accepted the #NCBeerMonthChallenge.
YadkinTo lead the way, Foothills is diving in (pun intended) with the following plans:
•  our staff will participate in a waterborne creek cleanup with Yadkin Riverkeeper on Saturday April 9th
•  we’ll also help with the Great American Cleanup that same day
•  we’ll also present a check to Yadkin Riverkeeper, from proceeds of our Riverkeeper Lager Series last year
•  we’ll have special trivia rounds at our pub dedicated to water trivia (yes that’s a thing), with prizes furnished by Forsyth Creek Week

We have another big yet-to-be-announced initiative for NC Beer Month, which will involve us traveling to every region of the state during April. We’ll be taking The Challenge with us, spreading the clean water gospel as we go.

Join us. Accept the Challenge. For our water, for NC Beer, and for your favorite NC brewery. Who knows? It could very well lead to a day when you tell someone there are 157 breweries in North Carolina . . . and they say “I know”.

Editor’s note: special thanks to Margo Knight Metzger, Executive Director of the North Carolina Brewers Guild, for her research and editing assistance. We owe you a pint Margo.




A Dog Blog

tasting room dogWhen we opened our tasting room last year, we naturally assumed it would become a haven for those seeking to relax, slake their thirst, and mingle with like-minded souls.

Turns out we were right – in more ways than one.

Our little tap dispensary, set to turn a year old in April, has become a defacto dog den. Thanks to the fact that A) we don’t have a kitchen, and B) we love dogs, our four-legged Foothills friends have helped make us the coolest indoor dog run in the Triad.

IMG_8254 DSCN4372 IMG_8018 IMG_8232

It’s a legacy we should have seen coming.

BarleyOur devotion of a year’s worth of bottle labels (and accompanying monthly donations to rescue organizations) bears witness to our canine compassion. So too, the presence of our de facto brewery dog Barley, who, while technically the property of our owners Matt and Meredith Masten, is such a daily fixture at the brewery that he seems to consider all of us his humans. We don’t argue with him.

Barley’s been a fixture at the brewery since he was a puppy – in fact, his timely interruption of a creative meeting was the inspiration for the 2015 IPA of the Month labels – on which he was the first to be featured.

Barley Hop Beer-Thumbnails-IPAOTMJanuary15

When we broke ground for the tasting room, Barley made frequent full-circuit inspections…

IMG_7556 IMG_7554

…and even gave the project his final and permanent seal of approval.

Barley paw

Given the great dog karma that now fills this space, we think that, in hindsight, he might have been some kind of doggie shinto priest, shaking haraigushi pom-poms and blessing the place for all who were to come . . . two-legged and four.

Those dog-featuring IPA of the Month labels corresponded with the opening of the tap room – as a result we had several visits from our label models.

FEB Charlie MAY Bentley NOV Maddie

Even the Gaelic football club we sponsor contributes to our dog-friendliness  — the Winston-Salem Wolfhounds. Last year when they had a post-tournament party here, some canine namesakes accompanied them. Our version of the Clydesdales.

IMG_8009 IMG_8030

One of our IPA of the Month labels featured dogs belonging to Big Bang Theory star Wil Wheaton; in an interview we asked him why he thought craft beer people tended to also be dog people. His answer? “Obviously, We love the good things in life.”

You and your best friend feel free to come enjoy the good things in life at our tasting room.


Editor’s note: you can follow Barley on Instagram. He’s hilarious.


Sexual Chocolate 2016

“I loved her – and that is the beginning and the end of everything.”
―F. Scott Fitzgerald

Greetings Chocolate lovers. She’s back.

Time once again to don your parka, pack up your sleeping bag and head to Foothills for our Annual Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout Release on January 29 and 30 . If you’ve been with us before for this most special of days, then the details below will be familiar to you. Read them anyway. If this is your first time, then congrats on scratching this particular shindig off your Craft Beer Bucket List. You too must read on carefully.


– Foothills will host its traditional Bottle Share Pre-Release Party on Friday night January 29th beginning at 7:00 pm, in the brewery portion of our brewpub at 638 West 4th Street in Winston-Salem. Here’s how it works: we open up the back of our brewpub to anyone and everyone who brings a bottle or two (or three or four) of their favorite rare, unique or coveted craft beer. Interpretation of that description is up to you, but show up with a six pack of any ol’ beer and we’re not responsible for the incessant mocking which will certainly ensue. We’ll have Sexual Chocolate on tap at the bar, and appetizers to snack on if you’re famished. Oh and The Djangovers are playing the pub that night.

??????????– The line to buy Sexual Chocolate bombers (22-oz. bottles) will begin on the sidewalk outside the front door of the pub. You’re welcome to queue up any time after we close at 2:00 am the previous evening. So for once you don’t have to actually go home at closing time. NOTE: please do not, repeat, DO NOT, start lining up before we close. Violators will be sent to the back of the line and force-fed leftover Zima.

– City police officers will be on hand overnight. No doubt this will prove to be for cosmetic purposes only, since we all know what a well-behaved lot craft beer enthusiasts are. There’s a rumor that those nice officers will let you enjoy your own, um, refreshments until daylight. We can neither confirm nor deny . . . we will, however, refer you to the aforementioned good behavior. Wink wink nudge nudge.

– There will be portable restroom facilities in the back parking lot. We’re thoughtful like that.

– Around 6:30 am we’ll BBASC1distribute numbered wristbands to denote your place in line. (Captain Obvious says make sure you have your ID with you.) We’ll also have some schwag to pass out as a ‘thank you’ to those brave souls that camped out.

– The pub will open at 8:00 am, Sexual Chocolate will be tapped and waiting (as will 14 other beers – viva le variété). We’ll also have breakfast available for purchase. You know, solid food. If that’s your thing.

SC for blog– Bottle sales will commence at 9:00 am. You’ll be summoned by your wristband number in groups of 50, whereafter you’ll pay for your bottles in the pub then proceed in somewhat orderly fashion to the brewery in back, where you’ll receive your beer.

Bottles are $15 each, limit of 6 to a person. Any questions about that? Then the answer is 15 and 6. We take all forms of payment — cash, credit cards, your firstborn . . .

– Bottles tend to get snapped up quickly. This is the part where we politely suggest that, if you want to partake in this beer, please please please plan accordingly. If you show up at 4 in the afternoon and complain bitterly that there’s none left, you will only create bad karma for yourself. That and the staff will be doing impressions of you until next year’s release.
NOTE: I’m sure a lot of you have read how we increased Sexual Chocolate production this year. that does not mean we will have more bottles for sale – it just means we have a larger territory to cover with the beer.

– Another way to create bad karma? Trying to take the easy way out and asking us on Facebook/Twitter the best time to get in line/show up. Please believe us when we say WE DON’T KNOW. Every year is different. So suck it up and come stand in line. Hang out. Make friends. Be one with us.

– We don’t provide boxes or bags – that would expand our carbon footprint exponentially. Please bring something to safely cart away your newly purchased liquid treasures. How big you ask? About 8 bottles big.

– No growler fills of Sexual Chocolate. And no growling about no growler fills.

teku glass– We will have plenty of Sexual Chocolate Rastal Teku glasses for sale ($15). They’re very cool. Somehow the beer tastes better in them.

– This is the first year our Tasting Room has been open for Sexual Chocolate Release, so it’s getting in on the fun . . . while no bottles will be for sale there, they will have Chocolate on tap Friday night, with a special show from The Phantom Playboys.

Want to stay up to date on all the latest leading up to this event? Then follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Also check back to this blog, we’ll update it frequently with new info. In fact I just now added this sentence.

Headed here from out of town? The Winston-Salem Marriott (walking distance from the pub) has a special $95 rate just for Sexual Chocolate attendees.

Curious about the history of Sexual Chocolate? Read all about it here. Or watch an incredibly hip video about it here.

WEATHER: current overnight forecast low is 29°, 0% chance of precipitation.



Happy Birthday Chocolate

Editor’s Note: Our Sexual Chocolate release party takes place Saturday January 30 at our pub on West 4th Street in Winston-Salem.

This blog is about a special event separate from that release.SC for Facebook

Hey remember that epic Sexual Chocolate party we threw last year?

We’re gonna do it again.

While those of you who know what I’m talking about finish hyperventilating, a little history for those who don’t: last year was the tenth anniversary of our brewery opening, and we’ve been making Sexual Chocolate almost that long. So to celebrate our decade in business, last summer we threw a party at our tasting room featuring a nine-year vertical, with every vintage of Sexual Chocolate ever made. We think it was the largest draft vertical ever offered on the planet (we invited a Guinness World Record guy to come but he didn’t show, the bugger).


So while 2015 was the tenth anniversary of Foothills, 2016 is the tenth anniversary of Sexual Chocolate. We thought hey, why not throw a birthday party for our most iconic beer? She’s certainly held up well.

So here’s the deal: on Friday January 22, at 7pm in our tasting room, we’re throwing Sexual Chocolate’s Tenth Anniversary Gala. Like last year, there will only be 100 tickets sold. Here’s some of the stuff happening exclusively at this party:

  • sexual-chocolate-tulip-glassWe’re putting the 2016 vintage of Sexual Chocolate on tap for the first time, so attendees will be the first to try it (NOTE: no 2016 bottles will be for sale, those will only be available at release January 30)
  • Brewmaster Jamie and Head Brewer T.L. will be on hand to give you the particulars on this year’s vintage
  • We’ll break out vintage Sexual Chocolate from the last four years for a 5-year vertical tasting
  • Brewer Matt has made two casks of Sexual Chocolate – one flavored with raspberry and white chocolate, one with habanero peppers (‘hot chocolate’?)
  • Matt’s new Foot Men Series beer, a hefty and complex barleywine, will also get its debut at the party
  • Bar Manager Caleb will have a house-roasted Coffee Sexual Chocolate randall
  • This, to us, is the coolest part: our head brewer has agreed to let partygoers have a sneak preview of this year’s Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate – normally we release it in August or September, but it’s been aging a few months now, so we’re emptying a barrel just for you. This will be the only chance to try this beer until it’s released later this year.
  • We will once again crack open our beer vault and have a limited number (2 per person) of vintage Sexual Chocolate bottles for sale
  • We’ve designed a special 10th Anniversary Sexual Chocolate label, which will be unveiled at the party (and which you will get a commemorative label sticker of)

Sound like fun? It will be. Ticket price includes:

  • five 4-oz. pours of any Sexual Chocolate beer, and two 16-oz. pours of any other beer.
  • An absurdly large and sumptuous buffet cooked exclusively by Chef Shane
  • A gift bag that includes a Rastal Teku Sexual Chocolate stemware glass

IMG_7795But wait there’s more! Every year we try and use part of the proceeds from our Sexual Chocolate events to help our local community, and this year’s no different. We’ll have a big silent auction at the party, with proceeds benefitting Habitat For Humanity, Forsyth Humane Society, Yadkin Riverkeeper, and Piedmont Environmental Alliance. Items up for auction include:

  • Brewer for a day – spend the day with our pub brewer making a batch of Foothills beer
  • Beer dinner for 6 people in our pub’s private dining room, with certified cicerone beer pairing
  • Beer For A Year (growler, growler koozie and gift card equal to 12 growler fills)
  • Private brewery tour/tasting room flight sampling/choice of t-shirts for 4 people
  • 2016 Sexual Chocolate Bottle #1 – signed by TL and Jamie
  • First 2 places in line for Sexual Chocolate Release (includes prize pack and $50 gift card)
  • 5 pounds of coffee hand-roasted by our owners Jamie and Sarah Bartholomaus

Our local business community is chipping in as well, including:

  • Winston-Salem Dash
  • Spring House restaurant
  • Quanto Basta restaurant
  • Fleet Feet
  • Raylen Vineyards
  • Southern Home & Kitchen
  • Salem Baking

Ticket price is $120, and tax and gratuity is included. Limit of 4 per person. Tickets will go on sale Friday January 15 at noon on EventBrite, stay tuned here and to our social media channels for the link.

She’ll only turn ten once. Join us for the party.

UPDATE: Marriott is offering a special $95 rate for the evening

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Here’s Looking At You Georgia

“This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”
– Humphrey Bogart, CasablancaATL 1Hello Georgia.

We’d like to ask you out on a weeklong date.

Starting Monday, January 11th, a big contingent from the Foothills mothership is headed down for a one-week celebration of our expansion into your fair state.

Following is a list of venues we’ll be visiting/drinking in while we’re there:

• Argosy
• GA Chapter Room
• Brickstore Pub
• Taco Mac
• North Highland Pub
• Cypress Street Pint and Plate
• The Porter
• Hand in Hand
• Tap
• Hop City
• Square Pub
• Kaleidoscope
• World of Beer
• Midway Pub

• The Wing Cafe & Tap House

• Beer Market

• 15th Street Pizza

• Trappeze

• Taco Mac

• World of Beer
• The Distillery
• Ordinary Pub

• World of Beer

Looking for the when and where? Gotcha covered. We’ve created a special Georgia Launch page on our website calendar; all times, dates and venues are listed there, along with the beers we’ll be pouring at each location. SPOILER ALERT: we’re bringing some special beers, including Frostbite Black IPA, Barrel-Aged People’s Porter, Hoppy Medium Imperial Brown Ale, and yes, Sexual Chocolate.

Also, we thought we’d have a little fun with you next week (outside of the beer drinking, merrymaking thing – this is a date right?), so we’ve created a #FollowFoothills hashtag, and most of the GA launch events on our website have a question related to our brewery on them. If you’re coming to an event, use the hashtag to let us know; then when you get there find one of us and tell us the answer. We’re bringing tons of swag – in other words, you’ll probably get lucky on our weeklong date.

See you next week Georgia. It’s a date.





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Fun Stuff We Did

A look back at some of the crap work we did this year:

JANUARY: we debuted our #FoothillsIPAdog bottles with our very own beer dog Barley. Apparently both the beer and the bottle were delicious.

JAN Barley

By the way we donated to a dog charity in the community of each label dog in 2015 – one of our prouder accomplishments.

Also, January saw the official kickoff of The Decade Parade, our year-long celebration of our 10th Anniversary. We wound up throwing 15 separate parties across our distribution footprint. Yes it was epic.


FEBRUARY: Sexual Chocolate Release – which this year came with actual chocolates.


MARCH: Four Decade Parade parties. Or 1,230 miles on the odometer, if you prefer.


APRIL: The Tasting Room officially opened! It’s become our pub’s fun little brother.

TR night

JUNE: Our big Opening Party for the Tasting Room Opening/10th Anniversary party featured bands (including The Connells), a BBQ competition, and something that will never happen again — a 9-year vertical tapping of every year of Sexual Chocolate ever made. We threw a separate party just to showcase all that vintage beer . . . tickets sold out in 4 hours.


JULY and AUGUST: were spent recovering from previously mentioned parties. But we did find time to coax Big Bang Theory star Wil Wheaton to put his rescue pit bulls on our July IPA of the Month label. Kinda cool.


SEPTEMBER: We announced our expansion into Georgia in 2016 — something Brewmaster (and University of Georgia graduate) Jamie is pretty stoked about.


OCTOBER: Between IPA of the Month, Foot Men Series, and the random brilliance of our brew staff, we averaged one new beer release a week throughout the fall. Personal favorite? Maplewood Aged Sauvignon Blanc Jade IPA. Holy crap that beer was good.

Jade maplewood aged sauvignon blanc

NOVEMBER: Our first-ever bottling of our first-ever holiday beer, Moravian Porter. Bottles sold out in a little over a day.


DECEMBER: Goodbye IPA of the Month, hello Jade six packs.

Jade 6 Pack RT_purple handle

It was, by any measure, a special and unique year for Foothills. We raise a glass to you, without whom none of it would have been possible, and wish you lots of fun and success in 2016. That’s our plan, anyway.

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An Unlikely Gift

sculpture1Gifts can come from the strangest places. In this season of gift giving, we wanted to share a little story with you about that.

IMG_3552Back in 2013, we took delivery of four 200 BBL fermentation tanks. The tanks came all the way from British Columbia on the back of a semi, and arrived in Winston-Salem without a scratch.

Unfortunately the driver tried to deliver them to our downtown brewpub, not our main production facility, and in doing so made the grievous error of driving under the Broad Street bridge with our shiny new tanks.

Tank met bridge, with predictable results.tank3 Long story short, the tank company flew in a couple of metal fabricators, who made the tanks good as new on site. The twisted metal carnage of the bridge debacle was tossed in a corner and quickly forgotten.

sculpture3Fast forward to earlier this year, when our new maintenance supervisor casually inquired about the scrap sheet metal gathering dust in the corner. With some encouragement and assistance from our marketing department, that conversation became a project, and the resulting handiwork is now proudly displayed on the wall of our tasting room. Look closely and you can see the scrapes where the tank went under the bridge.

You just never know where a gift might come from. Bear that in my mind as you enjoy what we hope is your happiest holiday season ever.