Foothills Brewing

Musings and Mashings

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Picking A New Pumpkin

OK, let’s get this out of the way right up front . . . this is NOT the time of year to be thinking about pumpkin beer.

And we’re aware (as you are) that seasonal creep has become a thing in craft beer when it comes to fall favorites like pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest lagers.

THAT SAID . . . we’re pretty excited about what we have in store for you once it’s pumpkin ale season again. Because we’ll be retiring the Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale (in name only) and putting it under the Foothills name . . . heretofore to be known as Foothills Pumpkin Ale. Same great beer (with a few tweaks), just a different label. And maybe some cool t-shirts.

Speaking of that new label, here’s your first look:


We now return you to your summer drinking pleasures. BUT . . . as the end of summer looms, start looking for Foothills Pumpkin Ale!


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Bourbon Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate 2018


Sexys Back 6x3 Centerd Stacked

2017 BBA Chocolate (2)

Hey, don’t get us wrong. We love summertime. Poolside afternoons with a cold pint or two, baseball games with a cold pint or two, summer vacations with a . . . well, you get the idea.

But here at Foothills, though we love summer, this time of year tends to get us gazing longingly at the calendar, towards the end of summer . . . and the annual release of  Bourbon Barrel Sexual Chocolate.

This year’s event date has been set . . . Saturday August 25. As always, we’ll have our bottle share party the night before — which this year will move to our brand new event space next door to the pub, Footnote.

We’ve got some other fun stuff in the works, We’ll have more event details in the coming month – for now, mark your calendars for the last weekend in August, and join us for the release of Bourbon Barrel Sexual Chocolate Release 2018!



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Resurrecting Dead and Berried

beer-thumbnails-deadberriedWe have a Russian Imperial Stout that’s kind of made a name for itself. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

Back in September 2016, we introduced a different imperial stout – a rather potent companion to Sexual Chocolate called Dead & Berried. Brewed with blackberries and aged in bourbon barrels, it became pretty popular. Like, instantly.

Ever since then we’ve fielded fairly steady inquiries from you, our ever-faithful, ever-thirsty beer drinking public, on when we’d be making more Dead & Berried.

Well — your wait is over.

We’ve had a batch of the beer aging in bourbon barrels for a few months now, and it’s time to take it out. And drink it.

That’s not the only good news. We’re also bottling it. For the first time ever.

The draft will go on sale at the pub, Footnote and our tasting room at 4pm on Friday April 13. The bottles (22-oz. bombers) will go on sale the following day, Saturday April 14, at the pub and tasting room at 11am. Bottle limit will be established day of sale but will not be less than a case.

So mark your calendars for the resurrection of Dead & Berried – and stay tuned to our social media channels for more information on release events!

UPDATE: check out the Spring Halloween party the pub is throwing

dead and berried bottle (2).png

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HopSwap Beer List

HopSwap18_medal_CS6If you’re looking forward to running, great.

If you’re looking forward to the beer, even better.

The 2018 HopSwap Half Marathon/5K and FREE Block Party has a killer craft beer lineup. Here’s who’s coming and what they’re pouring:

Foothills – Craft Happiness IPA Project-Create, Pilot Mountain Pale Ale, People’s Porter

Brown Truck – Fainting Goats Spirits Saison

Four Saints – Omie Blonde, Chilly Bin New Zealand IPA

Joymongers – Blood Orange Session IPA, Kolsch

Preyer – Passionfruit Milkshake IPA, Miso Gose

Natty Greene’s – TBA

Hoots – Gashopper IPA, Wheelbite Wheat

Fiddlin’ Fish – Camel City Session IPA, Major Winston’s Wheat

Wise Man – Mountain Calling West Coast IPA, Chasing Happiness Hefeweizen, Dancing Problems English Brown

Wooden Robot – What He’s Having, What She’s Having

Legion – Beauty and the Beets Beet/Orange Saison, Gaze of Eternity NE IPA

Koi Pond – Crazy Mary Banana Wit, Greenwood Session IPA, Falls Road Golden Kolsch

Quest – Makara Double IPA, Killer Bunny IPA

Besides a great race and great beer, we’ll have live music from Stereo Doll, the YMCA Kids Zone, and lots of local businesses for you to check out.

Whether you’re running, or just coming for the free block party, it’ll be a great day. Join us!

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Cheers To New Beers

Occasionally we get to introduce a new beer. Or two.

Not since we opened 13 years ago have we gotten to, all at once, introduce three.

But this spring afforded us that opportunity. We have ‘re-imagined’ Carolina Blonde and Carolina Strawberry, using those mainstays to inspire two new additions to our year-round cast of core beers.

We’re also adding a ‘malternative’ beer to our traditionally hoppy roster.

Here’s the lowdown on our new lineup:

Thousand Smiles logoTHOUSAND SMILES GOLDEN ALE             ABV 4.4%
BACKSTORY: Ever heard those baseball trades where there’s “a player to be named later?” That was Carolina Blonde. When Foothills went in search of a bigger brewhouse in 2010 to put in our (then) brand new brewery, our search took us to Carolina Beer & Beverage in Mooresville NC, where Carolina Blonde was born. That brewer was getting ready to start making energy drinks instead of beer, so when we bought his brewhouse he asked us to take Carolina Blonde in the deal. We changed it from a lager-esque brew to a cream ale, added a little wheat, and it became the lightest core offering we have.
Thousand Smiles is the next generation of that offering. Light bodied, slightly malt forward, with a fuller than expected mouthfeel from the oats addition. The small amount of acidulated malt used in the brew adds balance without adding tartness. Hops are mild and subtle. A very clean, very refreshing beer.
GRAINS: Pilsner Malt, Acidulated Malt, Oats
HOPS: Apollo, Cascade
OF NOTE: the ‘Thousand Smiles’ name came to us one day while driving home listening to a Jimi Hendrix song called ‘Little Wing’: “When I’m sad, she comes to me, with a thousand smiles she gives to me free”.

Tangled VineTANGLED VINE BERRY ROSE’ ALE             ABV 4.5%
BACKSTORY: Like Carolina Blonde, Carolina Strawberry came to us in the ‘bottling line’ deal. It’s always had a bad rap; when people see ‘strawberry’ they think ‘sweet’. Truth is, this beer has always used fresh strawberry puree, which lends more of the pectin from the fruit than the fructose, and therefore has always been slightly tart instead of sweet. Our marketing director declares this his ‘lawnmower beer’ – the one that tastes best after a spring/summer day of working in the yard.
Tangled Vine will be, like Thousand Smiles, a re-imagining of this core beer. It’s a tart fruit beer made with acidulated malt, which provides a rounder, fuller character to the beer, enhancing the flavor while adding mild acidity. That malt is balanced with cranberries, sour cherries and strawberries, to create a dry, tart and eminently drinkable ale. Lively carbonation adds bubbly character, and the balanced fruit taste has just the right amount of pucker.
GRAINS: Pilsner Malt, Acidulated Malt, Oats
HOPS: Apollo
OF NOTE: Rosé Ale is a style relatively new to the craft beer world; it’s kind of a liquid link between beer and wine. Based on styles like gose, Berliner Weisse, sours and more, brewers are producing a variety of rosé-inspired beers.

Malt ShakerMALT SHAKER AMBER ALE                         ABV 5.8%
BACKSTORY: OK, so this technically isn’t a new beer – but it’s the official branding of the amber ale we’ve been producing for a few months now. It came to our attention that, while lots of you enjoy drinking Foothills beer, some of you (gasp) prefer a less hoppy alternative. So our brewmaster T.L. came up with this deliciously malty amber ale. It’s smooth, sweet and mellow – medium bodied with lots of caramel and some nuttiness.
GRAINS: Canadian 2-row Pale, Caramel 20, Caramel 60, Dark Crystal, Wheat
HOPS: Cascade, Apollo
OF NOTE: This beer won the gold medal at the 2017 North Carolina Brewer’s Cup in the amber ale category

Want to find our new beers? Check out our Beer Finder.

tap into 3 new beers


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HopSwap Breweries

HopSwap18_medal_CS6OK, technically it’s a half marathon and a 5K.

But really it’s an excuse to get all our brewery friends together for a big party.

On Saturday March 31st, we will once again kick off NC Beer Month with the HopSwap Half Marathon/5K.

For those of you signed up — can’t wait to see you!

For those who haven’t signed up but still want to run – there’s still time. (you can also volunteer.)

25074924_152113235558219_1717895637470804856_oFor those who think running is only for when you’re being chased — well we got you covered too.

Last year, the inaugural year of the HopSwap, we were joined at the finish line by 6 of our fellow Triad breweries, who graciously donated their time (and beer) to help out our race charity, Yadkin Riverkeeper.

Apparently word got out about how much fun this race is – because that number has doubled this year.

Counting us we will have 13, count ’em, 13 breweries awaiting all those thirsty runners (and everyone else who comes out). In addition to more Triad breweries coming, we have friends coming from as far away as Charlotte and Rocky Mount – even one from South Carolina.

From the Triad we’ll have Foothills, Brown Truck, Four SaintsJoymongers, Preyer, Natty Greene’s, Hoots, Fiddlin’ Fish, and Wise Man.

Two of our favorites from Charlotte are also coming – Wooden Robot and Legion.

Koi Pond is coming from Rocky Mount – as is Quest, all the way from Greenville South Carolina.

Yadkin Riverkeeper will be selling beer tickets ($5 each), good for a pour at any of the participating breweries.

This will be the single biggest gathering of NC breweries in the Triad during NC Beer Month. Don’t miss out!


Our Third ‘Kid’

Footnote Logo 908x1272Maybe you have a third kid. Maybe you ARE a third kid.

If so then you know how we feel. We’re parents! Again. Footnote Cafe is officially open.

You also know that being third has its advantages. After raising the first two kids, mom and dad tend to take kind of a ‘whatever’ attitude toward parenting – resulting in the number three kid developing into a free-spirited personality. They also tend to be fun-loving, uncomplicated, and outgoing.

Ironically, that’s pretty much how we conceived (ha!) our latest space. We first told you about Footnote Cafe right here in our blog back in July  – it’s been a labor (ha! again) of love ever since.


Let’s start with the coffee – because that’s how every day at Footnote will start. Our co-jamie roastingowners Jamie and Sarah got a coffee roaster as a wedding present when they married in 2005 (yes the reception was at the brewpub). Ever since they’ve had a passion for coffee roasting. We have our own commercial roaster – which has been experimenting with at our main brewery for a month or so now. Jamie went to coffee roasting school this summer, and has been busy putting his newfound expertise to work testing different beans and different roasts . . . the employee coffee testing program has been an unexpected but welcome perk of working at Foothills. (spoiler alert: every coffee we’ve tried has been spectacular.)

Chef Shane new kitchenMeanwhile, we set Chef Shane to work coming up with some goodies that would complement that coffee. He decided to bake all the breakfast muffins in-house, so they’ll be fresh daily. He’s also come up with a breakfast version of his ultra-popular #Shanewich, which like its brewpub counterpart will change often. Chef Shane’s also whipped up a pretty hefty ‘grab n’ go’ sandwich menu.

(btw since he’ll have a lot more catering to do Shane is getting a new expanded kitchen out of all this – hence his giddy look of anticipation)

gold rushWhile coffee will be available all day every day (Footnote will be open 7a-11p Mon-Sat, closed Sunday), we’ve also built in some fun libations to help ‘transition’ your day (hey we’re a brewery). We’ll of course have plenty of our craft beer available – 10 taps worth (though until those are installed, we’ll be serving beer out of bottles). But we’ve also put together what we think is one of the more comprehensive cocktail-slash-premium-wine-and-liquor menus in the city.  Our bar manager Nicole, who’s been experimenting for months, has created ten signature cocktails unique to Footnote, with ingredients ranging from cold brew coffee and house-made clover honey syrup to a smoldering rosemary sprig.

All that is available in a space that feels, in true ‘third kid’ fashion, free-spirited and uncomplicated. We even put a patio on both sides of the buildings for those warm Carolina afternoons and evenings. And we hope to periodically have live music.

Bottom line? Any time of day you’re looking to take a little break – or a big one – Footnote will provide a refreshingly relaxing alternative.

wide shot

But for all its virtues, the cafe is only part of Footnote. The other half of the building can be converted into one of the most versatile event spaces in downtown Winston-Salem. Two indoor garage doors can separate the space, making the perfect spot for a small gathering (complete with full a/v capabilities of course). Or, if you have a bigger shindig, we can accomodate you and 250 of your closest friends.

Footnote space

We’re hoping everyone will come by and see us now that we’re open. Whether it’s to grab a quick cup of coffee, or to pick up a book from Bookmarks next door (did we mention we’re next door to a bookstore???) and linger awhile, we look forward to seeing all our triad friends in our new place.

So come say hi to our youngest ‘kid’. We’re already pretty proud.

front cover


Sexual Chocolate 2018

FHB.14121.12 Sexual Chocolate 2017 label R1 MECHWhen the calendar turns over to January, we always celebrate the new year.

Shortly afterward, here at Foothills we always have another celebration —  Sexual Chocolate Release.

The Russian Imperial Stout that we make once a year comes out this year on January 26 (on draft) and January 27 (in bottles).

We will also be selling bottles of both Sexual Chocolate and Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate from vintages past on Friday evening at both the pub and tasting room.

This blog contains what we hope is every possible detail you need to come enjoy what has become one of North Carolina’s longest running beer release celebrations. Read carefully and let us know if you have additional questions.

Every year we start by releasing Sexual Chocolate on draft. We’ll do that at 4pm Friday January 26, at both our pub and tasting room.

Both locations will have special events going on Friday. The tasting room will have live music, food trucks, a make your own s’mores bar and a bonfire (details here). The pub will have, amongst other things, a funk band called The Randy Watsons, as well as hosting our traditional Bottle Share Pre-Release Party beginning at 9:00 pm-ish.

DSCN3527Here’s how that party 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 certain mass-produced beers and we’re not responsible for the incessant mocking that will ensue. We’ll have Sexual Chocolate on tap at the bar, and (free) appetizers to snack on as well.


NEW THIS YEAR: we will be breaking into our vault and offering vintage bottles of Sexual Chocolate (and Olde Rabbit’s Foot) for sale on Friday evening at both the pub and tasting room. More details on that to come, but you won’t want to miss it – only twice in the last 5 years have we offered vintage bottles for sale.

These vintage bottles will be available Friday at both our pub (starting at 11am) and tasting room (starting at 4pm):
– ’17 Olde Rabbits Foot Imperial Stout
– ’17 Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
– ’17 Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate
– ’16 Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
– ’16 Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate
– ’15 Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate
– ’10 Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
Bottles are $25 each, limit 7 per person. You can get one of each!

vintage bottles

If you wish to join the traditional campout to buy bottles at the pub, great!

DSCN3652The line starts on the sidewalk outside the pub’s front door. You’re welcome to queue up anytime after we close at 2:00 am the previous evening. (For once you don’t have to actually go home at closing time.)

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.

There will be portable restroom facilities in the back parking lot. Please pay this small kindness forward during your use of them.DSCN3651

Around 6:30 am Saturday we will distribute numbered wristbands to denote your place in line. (Captain Obvious says make sure you have your ID with you.) We always have some little surprise for the hardy souls that line up early.

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

Bottle sales start 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. IMPORTANT: once you receive your beer, we ask that you exit the rear of the building instead of heading straight back into the pub. Keeps the line from devolving into anarchy.

NO BOTTLE LIMIT AGAIN THIS YEAR. We did this for the first time last year and it was quite popular – so we’re doing it again. You’re welcome.

Bottles are $15 each. We take all forms of payment — cash, credit cards, your firstborn…

While we are emptying case boxes as we go, we don’t guarantee a box or bag to stash your bottles – doing so would expand our carbon footprint exponentially. Please bring something to safely cart away your newly purchased liquid treasures. How big you ask? About (insert number of bottles you plan to buy) bottles big.

teku glass

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

We will have plenty of Sexual Chocolate gear for sale, including t-shirts and Rastal Teku glasses .


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

WEATHER: Current forecast calls for overnight low of 40 degrees. High of 61 on Saturday.


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Image result for north carolina brewers conference[EDITOR’S NOTE: Craft brewers are known for their collaborations. At the recently completed North Carolina Craft Brewer’s Conference, we suggested the brewers and professionals of the #NCbeer family help us put together a collaborative blog – ironically, about collaboration. Or as we call it in craft beer, ‘coopetition’. Here, in partnership with RadCraft in Colorado, is the world’s first crowd-sourced beer blog. As you can see, there are almost as many interpretations of coopetiton as there are North Carolina beers.]

Image result for craft beer


A quote:
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
-Isaac Newton

A haiku:
Aiding your adversary
Change your perception.

Coming together through coopetition helps everyone succeed. Coopetition lets us achieve things we could not on our own.

Coopetition is the perfect name for our experience as a fledgling brewery! Big and small brewers have willingly mentored and shepherded us as we start our journey.

Image result for craft beer


As a new player in the brewery industry, I have been overwhelmed by the idea and spirit behind ‘coopetition’. Having been in other industries for over 15 years and having to sign countless non-disclosures and non-competes, I am amazed at the open arms shown between competing breweries and their employees. Even as a Virginia brewer at a North Carolina Craft Brewers’ conference, I feel extremely welcome by those who would otherwise be seen as competition. Craft brewers are always willing to talk shop, answer any questions, and wish you the best success on the road ahead. The sense of togetherness is really something specifically amazing about the craft brewery business. Through this teamwork and collaboration, we can all make a better product and therefore have a stronger industry.

Coopetition is about surrounding yourself with other successful folks; folks with like values, motivations, and ambitions. This is at the core of “co-opetition” to me. This hybrid of competition and collaboration still centers our Western American ideals of capitalism which put profits over people. Howard Thurman has often been quoted saying “Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Brewing and being a part of a collective of like-minded business owners, with a passion for justice, makes me come alive.

Related imageAs a North Carolina alcoholic beverage lawyer, I enjoy the opportunity to work collaboratively with other lawyers representing all three tiers of the alcohol industry so that our clients can all sell more beer!

Beer builds. It builds relationships. It builds bonds. It builds businesses. How has beer helped you build a better life?

Competition is about tearing down your competitors in order for the individual to survive, but coopetition is about building up each other in order for the community to thrive. That is what makes the craft beer culture so beautiful.

Coopetition among breweries is like yard wars in the neighborhood. Each neighbor wants to have the perfect yard.  But each neighbor also wants to have the best neighbors and the most rewarding friendships. Every “gardener” wants to share the fruits of their labor with people who appreciate the craft. The diversity of people and styles makes a neighborhood sought after and secure. And having backyard cookouts with our neighbors brings us together.

The craft beer neighborhood represents the essence of a life well lived. And another beer well appreciated…

The brewing industry is unlike any other profession. We encourage each other to be better than we were yesterday. We challenge each other to be creative, push the envelope and experiment with ideas. Cooperative competition is vital for the progression of the industry and gives the consumer a never-ending opportunity to challenge their palate.

Image result for craft beerCoopetition (noun): A rare occurrence where competitors actively and willingly help their competition. It is currently only found in the brewing industry.

Similar rarities include but are not limited to: leftover bacon, shooting stars and Loch Ness Monster sightings.

Coopetition is so important especially in towns with a growing beer scene. Every new brewery that opens draws in more beer tourism, which is great for all breweries in the area. I love being able to recommend our neighboring breweries to tasting room visitors that might be looking for a style we don’t currently offer, and they do the same for us.

Stop, collaborate, and listen…which is truly what coopetition is all about.
STOP separating ourselves from each other, but embrace our industry as a whole.
COLLABORATE with each other to build the market together.
LISTEN to Vanilla Ice while you do it!

Coopetition is being here at the Guild and soaking in all the amazing people supporting each other from newbies to “seasoned” brewers, owners and just about all the people in the industry.  Coopetition is not being afraid to be the new kid in the block and knowing we’ll be the big elephant in our community, being afraid and excited at the same time and yet having a plethora of resources at our fingertips because we have people like you on our side.  Yes, I just created a business goal for us….maybe in 2019, we’ll be hop swapping beers with Foothills in our taproom.  Coopetition at it’s greatest and finest.

Image result for craft beerWe love to get together with a nearby brewery and make something new. It is a chance to get creative and use new ingredients. Working with local ingredients with our beer friends is one of the highlights of what we get to do.

Our mission is to lift our community through kindness to all through advocacy and amazing craft beer! We encourage all to participate by drinking local, and living global!

(we even had one of our four-legged friends weigh in)
Doc at Oden Brewing loves coopetition almost as much as old tennis balls and is glad that top NC  breweries help the new guys thrive and become solid members of the craft beer community.


Angry Troll Brewing
Black Star Line Brewing
Bombshell Beer
Dragon Run Brewing
Fourth Creek Brewing Company
Foothills Brewing
Gizmo Brew Works
Joymongers Brewing Company
Lazy Hiker Brewing Company
Leicester Brew Lab
Lost Province Brewing
Mystery Brewing Company
Nauti Dog Brewing
New River Brewing
Oden Brewing
Preyer Brewing Company
Sanctuary Brewing
Southern Appalachian Brewery
Thirsty Monk Pub
Waterman’s Brewing
Wrightsville Beach Brewery


Williams Mullen
Elizabeth City Downtown Inc.

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It’s Always Pumpkin Spice Time

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We occasionally turn our blog space over to our friends in the beer (or in this case food) business. Today we’re very fortunate to have professional foodie-slash-writer-slash-TV host-slash-craft beer fan Daina Falk, Founder of Hungry Fan®, sharing her thoughts on a surprisingly polarizing subject this time of year — the proliferation of pumpkin spice.]

pumpkin spice mashable

Fall is perhaps my favorite time of the year. With its arrival comes the beautiful changing colors of the leaves as summer’s steamy heat gives way to cooler temperatures.

Daina 2But more importantly, for this sports fan, fall also signals the start of football season, the World Series and plenty of ACC basketball [preseason] smack-talking. (I fear you Tar Heel basketball fans might stop reading right now if I told you where I went to school. And for the record, I’m enough removed from my college days to be way more open-minded now. In fact, during the tourney I always cheer for the ACC as a whole and all our schools who made it. But I suppose no college basketball conversation is complete without a ‘Go Duke!’ Now please keep reading).

For the foodie in me, the hands-down best thing that happens when autumn arrives is pumpkin spice—and most namely, pumpkin spice beer.

Like most pumpkin spice lovers, my curiosity was piqued in 2003 when Starbucks launched the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Man oh man, I bought in hook, line and sinker. I loved me some PSLs. But after I graduated from college in 2005, I worked diligently to lose 60 pounds, which meant changing my entire way of eating and cutting out a lot of needless sugar. Bye-bye went the pumpkin spice latte, my nearly daily cup of liquid sugar that actually contained zero pumpkin whatsoever.

Despite its dubious nutritional profile and absence of any actual pumpkin, the PSL started something.

Ah yes, the Pumpkin Spice Craze.

You’re nodding because you know exactly what I’m talking about. We’ve now got everything from pumpkin spice oatmeal to lattes to Cheerios to protein powder…and even dog treats. (Not sure if comedian John Oliver is popular amongst North Carolina beer fans, but he really killed this).


Despite the innumerable jokes at the expense of pumpkin spice and the collective PSL fatigue we feel as the holidays near—nothing can overshadow the adoration I have for pumpkin spice beer.

I have a slight beef with the beer industry. They seem to piggyback on Starbucks’ marketing strategy of retiring the pumpkin spice pre-Thanksgiving. (John Oliver’s got it wrong, by the way. Those PSL syrup jars don’t sit on the counter all year. They’re gonzo when the limited supply of pumpkin spice syrup is consumed, not to be seen again until autumn next year). Why must the beer people and Starbucks take away my pumpkin spice? No, but seriously, why?

I’m not crazy. It’s not like I want pumpkin spice beer all the time. But on game day—most particularly when I’m tailgating in the parking lot—I enjoy the warm and fuzzy, fall feeling I get from a pumpkin spice beer.

A few years back, I tried hoarding cases of pumpkin spice beer so it could live on beyond the artificially-imposed time restraints of pumpkin spice season. I live in New York City now, which automatically means I don’t have a great deal of space. So I stored my beer outside on my patio thinking that the colder fall temperatures would help it last. Alas, I hoarded too much and didn’t really account for variations in weather and temperature. Needless to say, it didn’t end well. It was a sad, sad day when I discovered my precious bounty of pumpkin spice beer had gone a little skunky.

FHCottonwoodPumkin12ozBottle (2)I recently had the opportunity to taste Foothills Brewing’s Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale. I found it to be delicious. And the best part? It’s brewed with real pumpkin! Incidentally, I find it keeps best when stored in an actual refrigerator. And according to, that’s what you should do. Storing beer at 50-55 degrees F is ideal. (According to the site, higher temperatures threaten to shorten the lifespan of your beer; and temperatures lower than 50 degrees F induce a chill haze, making the beer cloudy). Furthermore, Beer Advocate states the best way to store a bottle of beer is upright, ensuring that the yeast in the beer will compact to the bottom of the bottle, which, in turn, decreases the amount of beer exposed and slows the oxidation process.

So what’s a pumpkin-spice-loving-girl to do when there’s no pumpkin spice beer to be found during three quarters of the year?

Three words: make your own.

But I’m not a brewer. I don’t own a brewery. Where do I even buy hops? How does one make beer? I mean, I barely have a normal-sized bathtub (remember, New York City). So, I put my cook’s hat on and decided I would try combining pumpkin spice seasoning with regular beer.

I surveyed the spice shelves of every grocery store near me. I went online. I looked and looked and looked. What I found was that most of the spice blends on the market that you’re familiar with are irradiated. And without getting into a lot of dull science stuff, just know that according to some really smart people and grocers such as Whole Foods, irradiated food is pretty gnarly.

To top things off, none of the pumpkin spice seasonings I found contained actual pumpkin. Zero.

Daina spiceI was therefore left with one option: make my own pumpkin spice.

I packed in some dehydrated, organic pumpkin and a slew of yummy, non-irradiated spices to make one heck of a blend.

What’s the first thing I did when my first shipment of the blend arrived?

I dissolved it into some beer, of course.

For every pint of beer, I dissolve about a teaspoon of my pumpkin spice blend. I wait until the head goes down, then I sprinkle it in and either let it dissolve on its own (about 60 seconds) or I give it a very gentle stir so as not to cause the beer to foam again. (You can use your finger or even a proper cocktail stirrer if you’d like. It’s up to you).

For the best taste and results, I prefer to use an ale (similar to the base of the Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale). My second favorite is a pilsner, like Foothill’s 2017 GABF Award-winning Torch Pilsner. Lagers work well too.

And yes, because my blend is made up of dried pumpkin and spices, you can expect to see some spice remains on the inside of your glass. If that bothers your friends, who are less passionate about pumpkin spice than you are, use a colored plastic cup.

But that little bit of residue—those are flavor crystals that will change your beer-drinking life forever.

I’m finally getting to indulge my love for pumpkin spice year-round. No one can stop me. As long as beer is around, I’ll have pumpkin spice beer whenever I want.

If PSLs are still your thing, be sure to try my pumpkin spice blend in your latte and read how my pumpkin spice blend stacks up against Starbucks.

You can pick up your own pouch of my organic pumpkin spice blend both on my website, or on Amazon.


DainaDaina Falk is the Founder & CEO of Hungry Fan®, a sports lifestyle brand that curates the sports fan’s game day experience. She is a nationally recognized Fangating™ expert, author of The Hungry Fan’s Game Day Cookbook, and host of CBS Sports Network’s “Toughest Tailgate.”
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