OK, so 2015 was a hard act to follow. Our 10-year anniversary party, the Decade Parade, the uber-popular #FoothillsIPAdog series . . . but 2016 held its own when it came to moments that helped shape the future of Foothills. As we turn the calendar on the first year of our second decade, here’s a look at some of our highlights this year:
The year started with an epic week of rollout parties, as we began distributing in the state of Georgia – a particularly momentous event for our owner (and UGA grad) Jamie Bartholomaus.
January also marked the debut of the successor to our IPA of the Month – the Hop of the Month program focused on selected unique hops and their flavor profiles, brewed in the style that best accentuated those flavors. Our first beer was a Vienna lager brewed with Wakatu hops from New Zealand.
Oh yeah – January also saw the 10th annual release of our Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout – complete with a new gold-tinged label, and label artist Kyle Webster on hand to sign bottles.
We took delivery on a massive (twice the size of the old one) glycol chiller, in preparation for another tank installation (and the accompanying production increase).
While our tasting room celebrated the 1-year anniversary of its opening, we celebrated NC Beer Month 2016 by initiating the #HopSwap – a way for us to celebrate and support the small independent craft brewers in our state. Every week we visited a brewer in a different region of North Carolina, all with under 5,000 barrels of production annually, and swapped kegs with them, putting their beers on tap in our tasting room (first time we’ve ever done that). That program has inspired a half-marathon/5K we’re hosting this April at our downtown brewpub in Winston-Salem.
We also took time to install three huge 400 BBL fermenters and a 400 BBL bright tank – part of the aforementioned production increase that saw our beer output capabilities jump by 41%.
May saw the first-ever meeting of our Foot Soldier Run Club – and it’s met every single Wednesday ever since.
Off we went to West Virginia – the 6th state in which we now distribute beer. Enjoyed some heavenly scenery . . .
. . . and met a few of the locals.
Another successful FloydFest partnership! this time with our very own party deck.
We introduced our first new stout in quite awhile – Dead & Berried, an American Imperial Stout made with oregon blackberries. Its presence in our pub and tasting room was understandably short-lived.
We made more Moravian Porter than ever – and it sold out faster than ever. Just introduced two years ago, this beer has quickly become a Triad holiday staple. And this year it even came in gift boxes paired with Moravian cookies.
We brewed our last-ever Hop of the Month beer – a Simcoe Double IPA. That series will be replaced by a new monthly series in 2017 – we’ll announce that the first week of January.
Here’s to cheers and new beers in 2017!
Google the word ‘Bohemian’ and you’re told it’s an adjective that means ‘having informal and unconventional social habits.”
If that’s true then Bohemian Pilsner might be the most culturally accurate style in all of craft beer.
Now read the label copy on our Torch Pilsner. (In fact, read all our label copy. We work so hard at being clever.) The last line on the Torch label says “we dig Bohemians”.
It’s true. And apparently we’re not the only ones.
On a day that saw North Carolina more than double its previous record medal total, Foothills was awarded a bronze medal at this year’s Great American Beer Festival for Torch Pilsner. (NC got a total of 17 medals – the previous best was 8).
Most of you know about GABF, and many of you have probably attended. For those who aren’t as familiar… imagine you threw the greatest tailgate party ever. And the entire stadium showed up. That’s GABF.
Held every October in Denver, it’s a 3-day, 4-session, 800-brewery, 3800-different-beers marathon of bacchanalian indulgence for craft beer faithful from all over the world.
It’s also the largest beer competition in the country.
How big? This year saw more than 7,200 beers entered, evaluated by 264 judges from 12 different countries. The American IPA category alone had 312 entries.
So you can see why a medal from this competition is kind of a big deal in our world. It’s like winning a beer Emmy.
And this one is special, for a couple of reasons. One, there are 96 style categories judged at GABF. Bohemian Pilsner is one of the simplest and most basic beer styles – not to mention one of the oldest. The Czech city of Plzen was founded in 1295, and shortly thereafter the citizenry was granted the right to brew their own beer by King Wenceslas. Presumably after he looked out on the Feast of Stephen.
The first true Czech (Bohemian) Pilsner was brewed on October 5th, 1842 (174 years and 1 day before we won our medal for that style), and is still being brewed today in that same city.
It’s a style our brewmaster T.L. is quite fond of, from personal experience. True story – while T.L. was still early in his beer career, a friend from his college days at University of Tennessee got hired as the personal chef for the U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. T.L. got invited over for a visit, and spent a few weeks drinking Bohemian Pilsner at its source. His 3-word review: “I was hooked”.
Meanwhile, on a parallel Pilsner track, our owner Jamie got interested in brewing beer while attending University of Georgia. When he brewed his very first batch of beer, he and his buddies visited a comic book store for label inspiration. He saw a cover depicting the hero descending into a cave – holding a torch. The label – and the legend – were born.
In fact ‘Torch Brewing’ was one of the names considered for this place before they settled on Foothills.
Even today’s version of the label has an interesting twist to it – our label artist Kyle used his dad as inspiration for the flame-bearded Viking. Some early sketches:
Soon you’ll be able to see our new ‘beer Emmy’ hanging in our pub, alongside the other 7 we’ve won at GABF. We’re proud of it – but not as proud as we are of our state as a whole. North Carolina brought home more GABF medals this year than any state east of Colorado. More than the revered craft beer state of Washington, even.
That pride extends particularly to the three medals won by Brown Truck Brewery in High Point. Not only are they our Triad craft beer brothers, but their head brewer Ian Burnett was part of our our brewing staff before starting Brown Truck. (oh by the way Brown Truck took home Very Small Brewery of the Year honors in addition to their three medals).
Wow. Seems the North Carolina craft beer scene is burning bright. Almost like a Torch.
Today Foothills introduces its first pepper beer, For Heat’s Sake. It’s available on draft at the pub and tasting room.
You know where the beer comes from. But you probably don’t know where the peppers come from.
About 10 miles from our brewery, nestled by a lazy bend in the Yadkin River, lies a stretch of flood plain land that has been transformed into a unique farm.
It all started as a pet project for our owner Jamie Bartholomaus, on whose land the fledgling farm sits. Jamie is a brewer by trade but a gardener and farmer at heart. I mean, the guy once had over a hundred orchids.
Anyway he moved his family into the house on the property this March, and quickly began to map out a chunk to use for growing fruits and vegetables. Some to eat, some to give away . . . but most, to the delight of Chef Shane, earmarked for the kitchen at the pub.
One problem from the start – running a large regional craft brewery, and daddying three little girls at home, doesn’t leave a lot of time for tractors and tilling. As Jamie puts it, “running a farm is one of the few things that may be more work than running a brewery.” So he turned to longtime Foothills employee Chase Westmoreland, an integral part of our shipping operation but also a third generation farmer from Davidson County.
Another problem to start – the land is a flood plain meadow, a stone’s throw from the Yadkin River. That means it’s mostly river silt, largely devoid of the necessary nutrients to sustain large-scale farming. Jamie says he has yet to see an earthworm anywhere out there.
But that problem had a silver lining – since the land has stood fallow for a couple of decades, it is completely free of anything non-organic – no pesticides, no chemicals.
Jamie and Chase came up with a two-tiered plan – spend the growing season experimenting with different varieties of fruits and vegetables, while nurturing the soil with organic matter for long-term viability.
It was Chase’s job to decide what to plant – a role he took on like Noah preparing for the flood. In other words he planted two of everything – between 50 and 60 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Who knew seven varieties of zucchini even existed?
Oh and there’s bees. Eight colonies of bees.
The results? Well if you’ve had pesto on anything at the pub lately, you’ve tasted the three varieties of basil they grew. If you’ve had a vegetable medley, then you’ve tried some of the seven different squash varieties. The farm yielded a bountiful harvest for the pub this summer – for everything from basics like tomato sauce to more creative applications – like a honey melon hot sauce our Sous Chef Sam recently whipped up for our smoked wings (it was amazing).
Then, of course, there’s the pepper beer – which uses four different varieties of peppers picked fresh from Jamie’s farm the day they went in the beer. It follows in the tradition of our Coffee Porter – which uses coffee home-roasted by Jamie and his wife Sarah.
Eleven years ago, Jamie started Foothills Brewing with the goal of influencing how people in our community enjoy craft beer. The goal of the farm is no different – a sustainable (did I mention the 33 solar panels?), non-GMO, organically grown, farm-to-table operation that influences and enhances the creative menus of our pub and other area restaurants – many of whom have already shown keen interest in our produce.
So look for more from Chase and Jamie’s farm in the future – including some interesting infusions for some of our beers. Maybe we’ll call one Green Thumb.
Since we were the first craft beer maker to ever open here, we’ve always kinda considered ourselves Winston-Salem’s hometown brewery.
Well now we’re joining one of our hometown teams.
We are very, very proud to announce a 2-year partnership with Wake Forest University to serve our locally made craft beer at school athletic events. The partnership commences with Wake Forest’s first home football game, vs. Tulane on Thursday September 1st (kickoff set for 7pm).
We consider this great news for all involved … starting with our co-owner Matt Masten, one of the main architects of the deal. Says Matt, “I grew up in Winston-Salem and have been a Deacon fan for as long as I can remember. I look forward to sharing a pint with fans during the season this year.”
Jamie Bartholomaus, our president and CEO, sees this as a “natural business partnership” that pairs the prestige and prominence of Wake Forest’s academics and athletics with the most award-winning brewery in North Carolina. He says “to be invited to have our products available to Wake Forest fans is an honor, and a sponsorship we look forward to maximizing to its full potential.”
This partnership is part of a bigger initiative entitled ‘Made in Winston-Salem’, an effort by the Athletic department to showcase local businesses on campus.
But wait, it gets better! In addition to availability at Demon Deacon football games at BB&T Field, Foothills beer will also be on sale at all men’s and women’s home basketball games at Lawrence Joel Coliseum. Wake Forest is also considering offering alcohol sales at David F. Couch Ballpark for baseball, and at Spry Stadium for men’s and women’s soccer matches.
At football games, Hoppyum IPA & Carolina Blonde Cream Ale will be served on all concourses. Those flagship brands, as well as selected Foothills seasonal beers, will be available in the Flow Lexus Club, luxury suites, the Moricle Society suite, the Touchdown Club, and the beer garden known as Top Hat Tavern located behind Deacon Hill.
So let’s play some football! And drink some craft beer. See you at the stadium!
The birthplace of worthy ideas often reflects the environment in which they will be most useful. A scientist, for instance, will habitually get good ideas in his lab. A coach gets inspired on the field of play. Base jumpers get their good ideas . . . wait, base jumping’s not a good idea period.
So it happens that the idea for our latest beer came up while our pub brewer and head chef were . . . having a beer.
These are two people only recently thrust together in their respective ‘labs’. Shane Moore, our executive chef and namesake of the #Shanewich, creates culinary wizardry in our pub kitchen, while Matt Dick was only recently named our head pub brewer, moving over from our main brewing facility.
Anyway, the two of them have become brothers in arms, or food, or beer, or perhaps all of the above. One day while quaffing Foothill’s finest, Shane happened to mention he’d found a great deal on a truckload of mangoes (presumably it wasn’t from a guy selling them out of his station wagon in the parking lot). After creating a chutney, some hot sauce, and a few other kitchen miracles, Shane wasn’t sure what to do with his leftovers. Enter Matt, ever the resourceful brewer, who suggested they add the remainders to our Carolina Blonde Cream Ale, for a tropical fruit take on one of our most refreshing summer beers.
So in went 60 pounds of mangoes, and about a gallon and a half of fresh mango puree, to 4 barrels (about 8 kegs) of Carolina Blonde. The tasty result will be on tap this Friday at our pub (opens 11am) and tasting room (opens 4pm) only . . . with only 8 kegs there’s not enough to send out in the market. And I’ve tasted it; it won’t be around long anyway.
Come try this great idea if you can — while you can.
OK, so here we are, summer’s just under way, and we’ve already had our Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate release for the year. Which means, for the uninitiated, there’s a gaping hole in our beer drinking schedule where Chocolate release traditionally lives (end of August/start of September).
Fear not my thirsty friends – there is another barrel-aged wonder in your future for that time slot.
Frequent readers of this blog (thank you btw) are familiar with why we moved Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate’s release up this year – it’s all about the barrels.
At the end of last summer, we had the very good fortune to purchase almost 300 bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace, the world’s most award-winning distillery and makers of some of the finest bourbons in the world.
After that special batch of Chocolate went into the barrels, along with a batch of our Barrel Aged Porter, we still had a bunch left over. Since bourbon barrels are best when used fresh out of the distillery, our Brewmaster went into full-bore evil scientist mode, creating a brand new beer to occupy those barrels.
The result? Dead and Berried – a bourbon barrel aged blackberry Imperial Stout, to be released sometime between mid-August and mid-September.
“I’ve always been a fan of fruit in darker beers,” says TL, our aforementioned Brewmaster. “The tartness of blackberries, mixed with bourbon and wood, the deep rich coffee notes of an imperial stout . . . it just seemed like good flavor combination.”
As for the name? Well, TL has been to over two dozen Grateful Dead shows. Draw your own conclusions.
Dead and Berried (American Imperial Stout) is a completely different recipe from Sexual Chocolate (Russian Imperial Stout). It was brewed last fall, then spent a couple of weeks with 420 pounds of blackberry puree from Oregon swimming around in it. After that it went into our bourbony boozy barrels, where it’s been quietly getting delicious for five months now.
As with all rare beers, this one comes with some caveats. We won’t be bottling it, and unless you plan on attending the Denver Rare Beer Festival in October, it will only be available to you in our pub and tasting room.
Hey look on the bright side – it’s just one more reason to come visit us. And we love it when you come visit us.
In fact we can barrel-y wait.
RELEASE DATE FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 9TH!
here’s the label