Foothills Brewing Co.
North Carolina is slowly making its way toward being the beer capital of the Southeast, if not the entire East Coast. Their wealth of fantastic beer and breweries has been a lure for craft beer jugernauts such as Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, both of which just announced plans to build their new – and first – East Coast breweries in the little town of Asheville, NC, which has been voted BeerCity USA three years in a row.
With all those bigger breweries setting up shop in my neighbor to the north, it’s likely the spotlight will shine on all the great beer coming out of the state, including those from my personal favorite NC brewery, Foothills.
Foothills, for me, is another brewery that hits all the right notes. I have yet to have a bad or even lackluster beer from the brewery. They’re renowned for their Sexual Chocolate imperial stout and People’s Porter, which are both superb for their respective styles. And when they do their releases of the barrel-aged versions, the crowds are just as strong as any other rare release days.
Not only that, but they’re staffed by some of the nicest, funniest and passionate brewers I’ve met. About a year ago, I went to a five-course beer dinner they did at a local bar and was blown away by the selection. (It was the first time I had most of their offerings.) And more than an hour after the dinner had finished, my fiancee and I were still standing around talking with Brewmaster Jamie Bartholomaus. He even took time to sketch out this illustration of the proper way to move a keg, which I still have on my fridge:
(Jamie said he planned to use this illustration during interviews with prospective employees. If they could somehow decipher it, he said he’d hire them on the spot.)
Anyway, back to the beer. Hoppyum is the brewery’s year-round IPA. It’s brewed with a variety of hops, but the brewers focused mainly on Simcoe, giving it that juicy tropical fruit smell and taste. And at a little more than 6% ABV, it won’t wreck your weeknight.
Hoppy pours a crystal clear brownish orange, almost a copper color with a hint of amber toward the center. It’s topped with about a finger-and-a-half worth of a light bubbly head and some mild lacing.
The Simcoe shines through on the nose as the most prevalent hop. Those characteristic juicy tropical fruits – orange, papaya, apricot, grapefruit, mango – are very forward. There’s also a dry characteristic to it which mutes the scents somewhat, but doesn’t dampen them.
On the front of the tongue is a swell of those juicy fruit characteristics. It’s a very rich, wet flavor to it. As it progresses, the hop bitterness kicks in toward the middle of the palate, and interesting twist for an IPA (it’s usually concentrated on the front). But that bitterness flushes away on the back end and those fruit flavors come rushing back. I got a nice kick of orange juice and peach on this bottle. Toward the very end, there’s a dry finish and a more prevalent bitterness.
It’s great to have Foothills back in South Carolina – they were gone for a little while – and to know that their great selection of stuff likely won’t be a Carolina secret for much longer.