Since opening in 2005, Foothills Brewing has been hard at work making some of the most exciting beers available in the Southeast. But it wasn't until 2010 that the brewery began any real bottling program and started selling their brews around the country (before that, a very limited release of their Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout was produced every February, but that usually sold out within hours). By 2012, Foothills Brewing was available across their home state of North Carolina, and although the company continues to grow, brewmaster and co-owner Jamie Bartholomaus has been adamant about maintaining a focus on premium quality beer.
For this tasting, we were lucky enough to snag four of the brewery's nine year-round brews (they also have eight seasonal beers, including their Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout): Torch Pilsner, Hoppyum IPA, People's Porter, and Seeing Double IPA. Each exhibited interesting flavors and gave us a good taste of what Foothills Brewing is all about.
The lightest of all the beers we tried, the Torch Pilsner puts a bit of a twist on the classic pilsner. Pouring a clear, bubbly yellow true to style, the light head opens up with bready malt sweetness and citrusy notes. The aroma's citrus and sweetness carries over to the flavor, which conveys strong but clean lemony notes with a classic pilsner bite. Overall, a flavorful and easily drinkable beer.
Brewed with American hops, this East Coast-style IPA drinks with an enticing balance of hop bitterness and aromatic citrusy sweetness. Pouring with a slightly hazy, orange hue, the Hoppyum immediately releases strong scents of tropical fruit, especially pineapple and some passionfruit, but without being overpowering or at all acrid. The pineapple notes also appear in the taste, but more subtly, balanced by grassy tinges and classic IPA hop bitterness.
An English-style Robust Porter, the People's Porter is dark and oily in appearance - like iced black coffee. Aromas of roasted beans, burnt toffee, unsweetened chocolate, and coffee fill the nose on this traditional porter, which drinks with a slightly less roasted flavor than its aroma would indicate. Herbal hoppy bitterness rounds out the beer, which expresses a slight espresso flavor in the long-lasting dry (but not too dry) aftertaste.
As Foothills' strongest year-round brew, the Seeing Double IPA hits a lot of the same notes as the Hoppyhum IPA, but in an imperial rendition. Like Hoppyum, Seeing Double is a sunny orange color, but one that's slightly more cloudy and woody, almost like something you'd find one third of the way through a Fender Sunburst Strat. Seeing Double's taste and smell align fairly closely, both exhibiting faint but noticeable hints of alcoholic pineapple (like a pineapple rum cake) counterbalanced by a hop bitterness. Be careful with this one though, it does not taste nearly as strong as its 9.5% label would suggest.