Foothills Brewing

Musings and Mashings


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Jade-olution

There’s a scene in Dances With Wolves where Kicking Bird says to Lt. John Dunbar, “We’ve come a long way, you and me.”
(only 90’s movie reference of the blog, I swear.)

Jade 6 Pack RT_purple handleThat’s how we feel when we look at our new 6-packs of Jade IPA.

Yes, we are finally succumbing to the voluminous passionate tweets, posts, messages and general beseeching you’ve done, imploring us to package one of your (and our) favorite Foothills brands in 12-ounce bottles.

In what we feel is the formidable lineup of our brands, Jade has more than held its own over the course of its short lifetime. Since it introduction Super Bowl weekend 2011, it’s been one of our best-selling and most talked-about beers. It has indeed come a long way — from its humble and auspicious birth amongst the sights (and scents) of the 2007 Craft Brewer’s Conference in Austin, Texas.

It was there that Jamie Bartholomaus, brewmaster of then-barely-two-years-old Foothills Brewing, and T.L. Adkisson, head brewer for Ham’s in Greenville, NC, were wandering through the Conference Expo, looking at equipment and raw materials and dreaming of bigger and better days for their respective breweries. As is usually the case, the hops growers (Hop Union, in this case) had several bales of hops broken open, to allow brewers to taste and smell their wares. Jamie picked up a handful of a new varietal called New Zealand Pacific Jade and took a deep whiff.

Turning to T.L. he said “Man I could make a pillow out of this stuff.”

T.L. was equally enamored. As he remembers, “It was definitely unique. Instead of having the citrusy qualities of Pacific Northwest hops, I smelled mango, guava — Jade Jade 6 Pack Side RT_purple handlehad all these tropical fruit notes going on.”

Back home,  both Jamie and T.L. followed up with Hop Union, trying to get their hands on some Jade hops. Both were told the same thing . . . what they’d seen (smelled) in Austin was only samples — the initial big harvest wasn’t due for another few years.

Fast forward to 2010 . . . T.L. had been hired as head brewer at Foothills, and one day his brewmaster (Jamie) walked up to him and said, “Guess what? Remember those hops we fell in love with in Austin? I just bought 440 pounds of ’em.” Scratching his head, he added “I’m just not sure what we’re gonna do with ’em.”

T.L. smiled. “I know what we’re gonna do with ’em.”

Within an hour he had written out a recipe for Jade IPA — the same recipe that, with a few minor tweaks, we’re still using today.

More than a third of that first batch disappeared that Super Bowl weekend, and the love affair was kindled. North Carolina craft beer drinkers spent the next three years downing pint after pint, pining for the day they could take this magic elixir home with them.

So toward the end of December 2013, on a whim, our marketing department posted on Facebook that, if we could get to 15,000 likes by the end of January 2014, we’d bottle Jade.

It took less than a month.

jade-rgb_NEWSo we got busy. Our artist Kyle Webster came up with the iconic brand logo; his vision was so spot-on that almost no changes were made to the original drawing (we did add the little logo hair lock). Instead of trumpeting the coming arrival of Jade bombers, we kept it a secret from everybody but employees and distributors, not releasing the info until the day bottles were actually on shelves.

The result? Demand for Jade skyrocketed, and we spent most of 2014 trying to keep up. In fact, after the initial two bottling runs, demand for draft remained so high we didn’t bottle it again for 10 months.

Since then we’ve installed four massive 300 BBL fermenters, so keeping up with your insatiable thirst for Jade has become a lot more manageable – to the point we’re ready to put 6-packs on the shelves. Not sure when they’ll be available, we’re aiming for early 2016, so stay tuned. Meantime, if you haven’t yet, get familiar with the Find Foothills Beer Finder on our website — it’ll help you find these when they come out.

And by all means — feel free to make a pillow out of them.

 

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RIP IPA of the Month

What began as a crazy idea hatched over a couple of beers, and grew to become a 2-year-long series of increasingly large scope, is going away.

That’s right — our December IPA of the Month will be our last IPA of the Month.

The concept began as the brainchild of brewmaster Jamie and head brewer T.L., who for years contemplated the idea of producing a different, seasonally aligned beer every month in Foothills most-loved style, the India Pale Ale.

We finally decided it was time to try it in 2014, and produced a series that included an ode to vintage pinup art on the bottles.

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That was followed by our #FoothillsIPAdog series in 2015, which has not only been wildly popular (even with Hollywood) but has also seen us donate to dog rescue organizations in a dozen different communities nationwide.

But for those of you lamenting the demise of these highly anticipated beers — fear not. There’s a plan of succession.

In January we’ll introduce a new monthly series — one dedicated to furthering the innovative goals on which IPA of the Month has thrived.

We’re taking IPA of the Month one step further — we’re starting a Hop of the Month series.Hop of the Month 2016 Generic

Understand, these will not be single hop beers. That’s been done. No, these will be beers specifically formulated to accentuate the unique flavor characteristics of a single hop varietal. T.L. is currently sourcing hops from all over the world for this series and, while some of the beers will assuredly be IPAs, expect all kinds of different styles to show up in this series.

Producing an IPA (and accompanying label) every month for the last two years has been fun. And for the record, we received enough #FoothillsIPAdog entries to supply label art for the next ten years. But Hop of the Month has us all pretty excited around here. Here’s hoping your anticipation of the series is just as enthusiastic. You can let us know what you think in our comments section. And stay tuned to the blog for the December announcement of our first Hop of the Month beer!

 


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Autumn’s Awesome

FHB (4)As we savor the waning days of summer 2015, it’s hard to not to wax nostalgic over here at the brewery. It’s been an epic year so far, what with all our 10th Anniversary celebrations, and we’re ending the summer/starting the fall with a flurry of beer releases that is at once epic in scope and broad in assortment.

We’ve released four beers in the last few weeks, including:

BBASC5Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate: We came out with this one a month early this year; the beer said “I’m ready” so we bottled it. And here’s a little secret: we cold-stored the barrels longer this year, which resulted in a little less tannin from the barrel wood, and more bourbony chocolaty flavor (at least to our taste buds). The release was, as always, a great way to catch up with our extended Foothills family and share some great times (not to mention those sleeping-on-the-sidewalk bonding moments). The pub is all tapped out but (as of the moment this is being written) there’s still some left at the Tasting Room.

AugustAugust IPA of the Month: “Spot” is an ideal summer IPA, with nice synergy between lemony Sorachi Ace hops and the orange/citrus character of Simcoe hops. Some German Tradition hops add a little earthiness and compliment the sweetness in the malt bill. Good way to round off the hot weather and start working this series into fall. None left on draft but a few bombers left at the tasting room.

Pumpkin:
I count close to a thousand pumpkin beers on Beer Advocate. Not sure how you stand out in a crowded patch like that, but there are a couple of unique things about our own Cottonwood Pumpkin. For one, instead of using canned pumpkin, we use actual labelsfresh pureed pumpkin; also, every spice we use (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and allspice) is organic.

Oktoberfest: We’re pretty excited about this one, it’s always been available on draft and in bombers, but this year for the first time we’ve included it in our year-round Seasonal Series, in 6-packs and 12-packs. If you don’t know anything about the Oktoberfest beer style other than the raucous shindig thrown every year in Munich, it has an interesting history. Crown Prince Ludwig got married in 1810, and magnanimously decided to invite the entire town of Munich. The resulting party was sufficiently epic to warrant throwing another one the following year. They eventually coined this annual celebration Oktoberfest, and brewed a beer specifically for the occasion; a dark, sweet amber lager with notes of toasted bread and roasted almonds. Now you can have a little bit of Prince Ludwig’s legacy sitting in your fridge.

A word here about the dreaded and much-maligned ‘seasonal creep’: some seem inordinately bothered by seasonal beers (like Oktoberfest and Pumpkin) coming out ‘before their time’. While it really doesn’t bother us, we do get your point. It’s the same feeling you get when you see Christmas decorations before Halloween, right? If it bothers you that much, may we suggest doing what we do when we see those decorations: ignore them until you’re ready to pay attention to them.

If you’d like to educate yourself on why this has become a thing, this is a good place to start.

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To go with the four we’ve recently released, we’ve got ANOTHER FIVE waiting in the wings, all of which should be on tap within the next month:

IPAOTM 2015 GenericSeptember IPA of the Month: as the weather cools, we usually ramp the ABV back up in this series, and September is no exception, weighing in at 6.9% to go with 72 IBUs. After the lighter, fruitier flavors of the summer month IPAs, a generous double dry hop with Chinook will give this one some hefty pine notes to go with a nice hint of grapefruit. And the label dog, as usual, is adorable.
AVAILIBILITY: state of North Carolina, release date September 4th 

fat bastard get in my belly gifFoot Men Series Wee Heavy: Of the beer styles brewed in Scotland, There are both “Scottish” and “Scotch” ales . . . the latter generally falling under a category known as “Wee Heavy”. Sweeter, fuller in body, and higher in alcohol than Scottish ales, the name derives from the small (wee) 6 oz. bottles in which Scottish brewers sold their strongest ale in the late 1800s. Our next beer in the Foot Men Series — highlighting the vast talents of our brewing staff — will be a Wee Heavy brewed by Brent. Super malty and sweet, unfiltered, it’s a hardy autumn beer full of toffee and raisin notes – and at 8.3%, the perfect pint to take the nip out of the air when it starts turning cool. You’ll have to roll your r’s and say “Brrrent’s Wee Heavy” when you drink it.
AVAILIBILITY: pub and tasting room in Winston-Salem; a handful of kegs may trickle out across the state for special events, release date TBD

jade-rgb_NEWSauvignon Blanc Wood-Aged Jade: this one’s the brain child of our head brewer TL (as was Jade, by and large). TL’s always been intrigued with New Zealand Jade hops, and is equally curious about complimentary flavor profiles. So he took some sweet maple honeycombs and soaked them in Sauvignon Blanc wine, from grapes grown in the same NZ region as our Jade hops. The result has an intriguing blend of fruity and acidic notes, balanced by sweetness in the maple used to age it.
AVAILIBILITY: pub and tasting room in Winston-Salem ONLY, release date TBD

Fairhaven Helles: this beer is part of an annual tradition, we invite the winner of the Gambrinus Cup homebrew competition to brew their winning beer at the pub, then have it served at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. This year’s recipe is a Munich Helles brewed by David Jones. The Helles style is so popular in Germany that it’s actually replaced the Oktoberfest style . . . at Oktoberfest! A straw-blonde lager that’s at once light and intensely flavorful, it’ll be a welcome addition to Fairhaven Village at Carolina Rennaissance Festival in Mooresville this year beginning October 3rd.
AVAILIBILITY: Carolina Renaissance Festival, pub and tasting room, release date October 3rd

Blueberry Pale Ale: This one we came up with to put on at Lowe’s Beer Dens. If you’ve had our Carolina Strawberry, then you know we do fruit beers a little differently; the fruit’s a little more subtle and acts as a complement to the beer ingredients, rather than serving as the main flavor ingredient. This beer is no exception . . . as our head brewer describes it, “it’s a pale ale that just happens to have blueberries in it”.
AVAILIBILITY: select NC Lowe’s Growler Den locations to start, eventually pub and tasting room, release date TBD

Stay tuned to our social media pages for exact release dates on all these.
Belly up everyone . . . Autumn’s gonna be awesome.


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Wil Wheaton and #FoothillsIPAdog

EDITOR’S NOTE: what follows is a full transcript from our interview with Wil Wheaton about featuring his pit bull rescues, Seamus and Marlowe, on our July IPA of the Month label.

Foothills: How did Seamus and Marlowe come into your life?
Wil: A few years ago, our dog, Ferris, died suddenly and unexpectedly from cancer. It was a crushing loss to our family, and while we grieved, we decided to walk in the Pasadena Humane Society’s Wiggle Waggle Walk, which is an annual fundraiser for them. I wrote a memorial for Ferris on my blog, and linked it to our fundraising page. We were hoping to raise $7000, because she was with us for seven years. The Internet got very generous, and in less than a week we had raised around $13,000 for Team Ferris.

Seamus and Wil

Someone from PHS contacted us and said, “Um … who are you people and how in the world did you do this?!” We told her our story, and she asked us if we would be willing to walk a shelter dog in the walk, as a way of raising adoption awareness. We thought that would be awesome, so we said yes.

On the morning of the walk, Kevin, an adoption coordinator at PHS, brought this happy, dopey, incredibly affectionate puppy over to us. That dog was Seamus (though at the time we just called him “DOG”, a nod to Half Life 2). My wife Anne and I were not interested in getting a new dog, and the timing was all wrong for a bunch of reasons, but it took us about a mile of the three-mile walk to completely fall in love with him. I quietly slipped off his “ADOPT ME” bandana, and by the end of the walk, we had put ourselves on a list to adopt him. A few days later, he came to live with us.

MarloweAfter we’d had Seamus for a few years, we stopped by PHS (where Anne has become a board member) to drop off some paperwork. While we were visiting with Kevin and some other staff, and telling them how much we loved Seamus, one of their employees brought in a tiny puppy who had the happiest face you’ve ever seen. She looked like a little Staffordshire terrier, and I remember saying, “The thing about these dogs is that …” then I saw her, and continued, “they are just so dopey and happy and lovable!” As I said that, I crouched down to pet her, and she somersaulted into my lap. I fell in love before I drew my next breath. But we really couldn’t have another dog. Seamus was three, and our other dog, Riley, was ten, in no mood to have a puppy in the house. The next day, Anne and I were walking along the beach, and I said, “Just to be clear: there is no way in the world we can adopt that puppy, right?” I can’t recall what happened immediately after that, but I know the conversation ended with her calling PHS and asking to be put on the list to adopt her, if nobody claimed her. About a week later, Marlowe joined our family.

We lost Riley about two months ago, and we all miss her terribly, but Seamus and Marlowe are closer than ever, and without the old lady in the house, are able to play as loudly and enthusiastically as they want.

Foothills:
How did you became aware of the #FoothillsIPAdog project, and what made you want to get involved?
Wil: About eighteen months ago, my friend, Charlotte, informed me about the existence of Sexual Chocolate. Through the magic of Twitter, I was able to get a bottle for myself, and I became a fan of Foothills before the bottle was empty. Since then, we’ve had a bunch of Foothills beers, including the #FoothillsIPAdog releases. I thought it would be awesome to have my dogs on a label because I love them, I love IPAs, and I love letting the world see how wonderful pit bulls are, contrary to some of the pernicious myths surrounding the breed.

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Foothills: Describe your reaction to seeing Seamus and Marlowe’s label for the first time.
Wil: I thought it was amazing! I loved that they were exploring a planet that looked very similar to all those planets we saw in 1950s B movies, and I thought they wore their space suits very, very well. That rocket ship is cooler than any of the spaceships I’ve gotten to ride in, too.

Foothills: There seems to be a lot of traffic at the intersection of ‘dog people’ and ‘craft beer people’; why do you suppose that is?
Wil: We love the good things in life, obviously.

Foothills: So being able to combine those two passions in your own lives with this project has been gratifying?
Wil: I’m just really happy and grateful that our dogs get to be part of this project. I’ve loved all the other dogs and their stories, and it’s really cool that Seamus and Marlowe get to be in such great company.

Foothills: We’re often told one of the coolest parts of this project has been our donating a portion of the beer’s proceeds to a rescue organization in the community where that month’s dog lives; tell us about Pasadena Humane Society, where Seamus and Marlowe’s donation is headed.
Wil: Animal rescues and humane societies do important and compassionate work for their communities. Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA does so much for the nine communities they service. The provide low-cost vaccinations, spay and neutering services (for free to Chihuahua and Pit Bull owners, because those breeds are so populous in their serviced communities), obedience and agility training classes, day care and boarding for dogs, and many other community outreach programs. Without PHS, I wouldn’t have Seamus and Marlowe in my life, so I’m honored and privileged to give something back with this month’s IPA.

July 2 reduced

July IPA of the Month will be available beginning July 3rd at our pub and tasting room, as well as bars and bottle shops all across the great state of North Carolina. For shipments outside North Carolina, please contact Bruisin’ Ales.