Foothills Brewing

Musings and Mashings


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NC Beer Month #HopSwap

Slide1 (2)By now hopefully you’ve heard about our #NCBeerMonthChallenge, urging all NC breweries and craft beer drinkers to help out their local waterways and riverkeepers during NC Beer Month.

That was not the only idea that came out of our beer-sipping brainstorming meeting.

Craft beer is, by any measure, big business. And, like any big business, competition is fierce. But unlike most businesses, there exists a “coopetition” atmosphere within our sudsy realm. Despite reports of its possible demise, we like to think that atmosphere will continue to be part of the foundation of this wonderful industry of ours.

We wanted to find a way to tangibly express that sentiment.

Our brewmaster’s solution? “Grab your car keys.”

HopSwap (2)What better way to support small breweries than by serving their beer? So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

For the first time in its 11-year history, Foothills will be pouring NC craft beer other than its own. We’ve selected about a half dozen breweries in North Carolina that brew less than 5,000 barrels a year (us last year: 37,746). Once a week, we’re gonna load a keg of our Hop of the Month Series beer into the back of our car and drive it to one of those breweries, exchanging it (don’t worry we’re paying) for one of that brewery’s signature beers. They’ll serve our beer at their tap room, we’ll serve theirs at ours. We’re calling it our NC Beer Month #HopSwap.

It’s proving to be a popular idea; already two of the breweries we’re trading with have arranged their own #HopSwap with others.

We’ll reveal our #HopSwap partners each week; there’s some beers we’re very excited to pour. And, consequently, some great breweries we feel honored and privileged to support.

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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.

 


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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).

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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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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.

NYD

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

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

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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.

DSC_7119Ed

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.

Beer-Thumbnails-IPAOTMJuly15

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

GA

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.

Beer-Thumbnails-MoravianPeoples

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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Hello Neighbor

Mister Rogers spent generations advocating the neighborly thing.

These days ‘the neighborly thing’ extends to your wallet. Drink Local. Eat Local. Spend Local. We’ve all seen our share of calls to action to ‘fill-in-the-blank local’ these days. But it’s become more than a catchphrase for local governments and small businesses — supporting your community economically is increasingly considered to have a wide-ranging economic impact globally.

Those of you intimate with the inner workings of craft beer know it’s an industry built on a local foundation. Any craft brewer worth their malt is pouring as much effort into the surrounding community as they are their beer. That shows up in charitable contributions made by craft brewers — but more importantly it shows up at the neighborhood level, often where it does the most good.

We’re no different – here’s a few examples of how we’re putting our Foot in our neighborhood.

BEND N’ BREW YOGA
Deanna-Dzybon
I promise you we didn’t send over to Central Casting for Deanna Dzybon. It just looks like we did. She’s the free spirited, soft spoken, calmly focused epitome of what you expect from an elite yoga instructor. Her Bend n’ Brew yoga classes have quickly gained popularity at our tasting room, where every Saturday morning she leads an all-levels yoga class for an hour — after which everyone grabs a pint, which is included in the cost of the yogaclass. The first class had a half dozen people . . . two weeks later her class was so big we had to move it to another part of the brewery. “The intent of my yoga,” says Deanna, “is similar to what the goals of craft beer are . . . . support local, build a community, add a little something to peoples’ lives.” Well said.

PINTS IN THE PITS
52_vipRacing courses through the lifeblood of our state — pick a spot in central or western North Carolina, and there’s probably more race teams and drivers and tracks in a random 50-mile radius than anywhere else in the country. In fact Bowman-Gray track, right here in Winston-Salem, is NASCAR’s oldest affiliated track, continuously operating for 60 years now.  And with good reason – over 100,000 fans pass through the turnstiles every season.
52David Sell knows the racing life well – he’s been behind the wheel of various classes of stock cars for the better part of a decade. That’s why, when he came to us to sponsor his limited late model car, we saw another chance to help our local community. And I do mean local – David’s garage is a mile from our tasting room. The Foothills 52 has already been in a couple of races — no winner’s circles yet, but we’re keeping the Hoppyum chilled just in case David needs to spray one on his crew.

CRAFTY CATTLE
cows3One of the only solid by-products for any brewery, and by far the most voluminous, is spent grain. Once the grain has been steeped and had its sugars extracted for fermentation, it’s no longer of any use in making beer.

But there’s still a use for it. A very good one, as it turns out.

cows2

“Got any Jade on ya?”

JG Farms in Lexington collects our spent grain and feeds it to their herd of prize-winning beef cattle. While it certainly helps our sustainibility efforts, it more importantly helps makes happy cows. Turns out, there’s still a lot of nutrients in spent grain, and the fact it’s been cooked makes it a lot easier on bovine digestive systems than what the farmers call ‘hot’ feeds like corn, that aren’t digested nearly as easily. The cattle are subsequently healthier, more well-fed, and thus gain weight quicker on spent grain. And, according to JG Farms owner Joseph Groce, the beef tastes a lot better as a result (a fact you can judge for yourself, as we periodically feature JG Farms ground beef in our ‘Shanewiches‘ at the pub).

A few ways we’re helping our neighbors — in addition to continuing to be a neighborly place to grab a pint. We like to think Mr. Rogers would approve.


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Pickle for your Thoughts

??????????There are lots of perks to working at a craft brewery. Your friends are mostly envious. You dress how you like. Every day is ‘Bring Your Dog to Work’ day.

And oh yeah — free beer.

Perhaps the greatest perks is are not quite so obvious, but just as important. The opportunity to work around like-minded people. The opportunity to support those whose passion creates an incredibly inspiring work community.

And, every now and then, the opportunity to try a really good pickle.

It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of quality North Carolina products. Beau Martin is hoping to change that.

Beau is in to pickles. Like, REALLY into pickles. Ever since he replicated his grandad’s pickled green tomatoes when he was a teenager, Beau dreamed of having his own pickle business. A couple of years ago, after a decade of restaurant work, he figured it was time. And Green River Picklers was born.

Fast forward to a recent camping trip — Beau ran across a fellow camper who was part of Appalachian State’s Brewing Sciences program.

“There we were, out in the woods,” Beau recalls. “He had all this beer and I had all these pickles.”

picklesThe tasting marathon that ensued gave birth to an offbeat notion . . . Brews n’ Brines, an event pairing the best of two worlds — craft beer and craft pickles.

I can feel you out there, chortling as you sit at your computer. Trust me, I was no different when they approached us about pairing some of our beers with some of their pickles.

Then they came by the brewpub, and we sat around tasting them with different beers (I know, tough job). You cannot believe how good these two products taste together.

You will, however, get a chance to find out . . . Green River Picklers will be at our brewpub Wednesday July 16th, 7-11pm, for a Brews n’ Brines event — 4 beers and 4 pickles for $10. Come get pickled with us!

FootHIllsB&BposterALTPairings:
Hoppyum / The Narrows (sweet and spicy cucumber chips; a little kick from cayenne pepper and crushed garlic)
People’s Porter / Blue Ridge Beets (sweet, with subtle notes of clove, onion, and bay leaves)
Carolina Blonde Cream Ale / Willy’s Dillys (bold and zesty, made with fresh dill and garlic)
Pilot Mountain Pale Ale / Spicy Appalachian Okra (marinated in whole cayenne peppers, organic vinegar, and spices)

Find the full list of Green River products here. They are nutrient dense, vegan, and gluten-free, and brined in organic vinegar.


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Drink Local . . .

NC Beer FBYou hear that phrase all the time in craft beer. And for good reason . . . it makes a difference. Anything made within a few miles of your favorite watering hole is most likely not long from the fermenter, and still retains the qualities your local brewer strived to put there in the first place. Most of us who make craft beer believe in accentuating that vibe, locally sourcing brewing ingredients whenever possible.

There is, however, one ingredient that every brewer in the country has no choice but to source locally.

Water.

It’s arguably the most vital resource to every community in the world. It’s also over 90% of every beer you drink, and is even the foundation for the origin of some beer styles. The original Pilseners were characterized and influenced by the soft, low alkaline water present in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

Dedication. In ink.

So water’s important to us. It’s important to you. And it’s REALLY important to Dean Naujoks.

Dean is head of The Yadkin Riverkeeper, whose mission is to protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin.

He’s also a little nuts.

Dean’s safety talk. Summary: don’t die.

He spends the month of June, every June, paddling the entire 215-mile length of the Yadkin River. And he and his Riverkeeper staff manage to get over 600 people on the water with them, at different stages of the annual event that’s become known as the Tour de Yadkin.

As you might imagine, it’s an adventure that calls for strength, stamina . . . and not a little swarthiness. Dean camps for the first two weeks of the tour, which this year equated to 3 showers in 17 days. For a guy who advocates responsible water usage, he sure doesn’t use very much. 

Along the way he routinely deals with any number of issues and near-calamities; from capsized kayaks, to bugs and snakes, to a singularly awkward encounter between Shiner the Paddling Dog and a baby deer. Bad Shiner.

Shiner 2014 Tour de Yadkin

Shiner. In a more pensive moment.

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gently down the stream

Dean invited us out recently to paddle a leg of the Tour de Yadkin with him and his staff, and see firsthand the health of this vital natural resource that supplies water to 734,000 people in the Piedmont. The nine miles of the river we paddled were pristine, and natural, and blessedly free of bugs and snakes. At one point a bald eagle wheeled out of the trees and circled majestically overhead. There’s something we don’t see at the brewery every day.

But not all of the river is in good shape. Some parts are listed as impaired by the EPA. To the river, according to Dean, it’s “death by a thousand cuts”, the cumulative impact of all the pollution sources that are impacting water quality issues as you head further downstream.

That’s why we’re thankful for The Riverkeeper, and those who work tirelessly to protect the river that’s the lifeblood of our entire region. Dean has taken on, and successfully regulated in court, billion-dollar corporationswho routinely abuse our waterways.

IMG_5345 As a result, our support for the Riverkeeper goes beyond simply advocating their work. And marveling at bald eagles flying overhead. You can find their logo on bombers of our Gruffmeister Maibock and Baltic Porter, along with the simple phrase that summarizes our philosophy on the subject:

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IMG_5373   EQUIPMENT NOTE: huge thanks to Outdoor Provision Company in Winston-Salem for providing the gear for our day on the Yadkin. Go see them. They rock. (Yes. 9 miles on a standup paddleboard. Boom.)