Foothills Brewing

Musings and Mashings


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#HopSwap – Round 1

We’re celebrating #NCBeerMonth and supporting North Carolina’s small independent breweries by swapping beer with some of them.
Our first round of travel is complete, we’ve exchanged our Hop of the Month beer with Brown Truck Brewery in High Point and Wooden Robot Brewery in Charlotte.
We asked them a few questions while we were there:

Ian

Foothills Brewmaster TL Adkisson & Brown Truck Head Brewer Ian Burnett

 BROWN TRUCK HEAD BREWER/CO-FOUNDER IAN BURNETT (former Foothills brewer!)
Where’d your brewery’s name come from: one of the other owners, Britt Lytle, has a furniture design company, and when he was opening that they were trying to think of a name, and they couldn’t think of anything – he owned this old brown truck, and his young son said, ‘Daddy how about Brown Truck?’ So when the name for this place was being thrown around, we decided it’d be a great name for the brewery as well.

When did you open? February 2016

What’s your favorite beer that you make? I like the saison – it’s very drinkable, and as a brewer you can do so much with it.

What’s your favorite beer that Foothills makes? Everyone says Jade or Sexual Chocolate, but I like the go-to’s, Hoppyum and Torch Pilsner – both very drinkable, awesome in all weather, and they never change – always delicious.

What’s your favorite part of #HopSwap? The camaraderie it represents and nurtures – getting good friends together, swapping good beers, at the end of the day it’s all about the beer and keeping good relationships with all the other brewers – and having fun doing it.

Dan

Foothills Brewmaster TL Adkisson & Wooden Robot Head Brewer Dan Wade

WOODEN ROBOT HEAD BREWER/CO-FOUNDER DAN WADE
Where’d your brewery’s name come from: it’s symbolic – it represents a Belgian farmhouse tradition, really artisanal local beer, and we’re applying our own American innovation to it. So the wooden represents that old school, creative artisanal way, and the robot represents our new school, scientific way of doing things.

When did you open? July 11, 2015

What’s your favorite beer that you make? whatever’s freshest and hoppiest

What’s your favorite beer that Foothills makes? Jade

What’s your favorite part of #HopSwap? it’s really just a lot of fun, and it’s really pretty cool to be able to work with a brewery that we’ve admired and looked up to.

 
THIS WEEK: we’re headed to Crank Arm Brewing in Raleigh and Koi Pond Brewing in Rocky Mount

follow our adventures on Twitter and Instagram

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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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Here’s Looking At You Georgia

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

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

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

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

ATL 3ATLANTA
• Argosy
• GA Chapter Room
• Brickstore Pub
• Taco Mac
• North Highland Pub
• Cypress Street Pint and Plate
• The Porter
• Hand in Hand
• Tap
• Hop City
• Square Pub
• Kaleidoscope
• World of Beer
• Midway Pub

ATL 2MARIETTA
• The Wing Cafe & Tap House

SMYRNA
• Beer Market

McDONOUGH
• 15th Street Pizza

ATHENS
• Trappeze

KENNESAW
• Taco Mac

SAVANNAH
• World of Beer
• The Distillery
• Ordinary Pub

POOLER
• World of Beer

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

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

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

GA

 

 

 


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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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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.

foothills png

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.