Foothills Brewing Company (Winston-Salem, NC)

A major accident closing I-81 caused us to reroute our trip, and instead we took the slower but more beautiful trip on US 29 to I-40 into Winston-Salem.  D made our lodging arrangements in advance, so we checked in and quickly headed off to dinner at Foothills Brewing Company (we were pleased to learn that the kitchen remained open until 11, and the place would be open until 2 AM with live music.

Foothills was easily located under the towering GMAC building, and right next to a lunch counter with antique pretzel cans (many from locations near our home) lining the window.  Inside, Foothills, which opened on St. Patrick’s Day in 2004, was a large, open space – very warehouse in appearance with a large brick wall, and lots of open seating.  The bar and band area is tucked toward the back, and with the lower ceiling design, the noise, joyful as it may be, was contained to that area.  We were greeted by an extremely friendly fellow named Ben, who we later learned works in distributing to many areas, including Asheville. Our waiter, Che, was an extremely pleasant and helpful fellow.  We didn’t get to meet the Jamie, the brewer, because he’d gone to
Florida.

We ate well, and we drank well.  I had a beautiful salad of greens topped with soft, fried, cashew-encrusted chevre cheese and garnished with oranges, snow peas on a layer of citrus vinaigrette with rosemary.  I should have stopped there, but I also ordered a cup of chili (very thick and meaty…more than my liking, but oh, so nicely spiced!) and unfortunately for my waistline, helped D with this mountain of beer-battered onion rings.  They were thick and creamy – the kind that just melt in your mouth – and served with homemade catsup.  Additionally, he had a wonderful plate of shrimp and grits.  The shrimp was done in a lovely tomato-based sauce, and the grits were creamed with cheese.  It was a spicy yet succulent dish.

Foothills offers a sample tray of the six regular brews, but I knew I didn’t want anything “golden” or a pilsner when there was a double IPA and imperial stout on the menu.  So I created my own sample tray of four ales (IPA, Stout, Porter and Festive (IBA)), then had a 10 oz of the Seeing Double IPA. D had a pint of the ESB, followed by a 10 oz of the Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout (specifics on the beers follow this posting.)

Everything we had at Foothills was enjoyable.  Everything was well done, and the overall experience at this brewpub was notable.  One of my favorite observations was the staff.  Ben and Che were both attentive and knowledgeable wait staff, but it was after we left our table and went to the bar that they really impressed me. 

They don’t just work at Foothills – they are patrons of the place, and enjoy hanging out drinking the local brew after hours.  And knowing we were out-of-towners, they took additional time to come talk to us about the beers, the town and advise us on the next few days of our trip.  They made us feel welcome, not just as new customers, but as new friends to the area.  And it was obvious that they many of the people were good friends and good customers.

The music was pleasant (single guy with acoustic guitar and vocals), the beers were satisfying (Seeing Double was excellent; Hoppyum was worthy of a shirt purchase for me, while D chose the Total Eclipse Stout shirt for the bird/beer combination artwork.)

Hoppyum IPA    6.75%
Total Eclipse Stout    7.0%;  44 IBUs
Rainbow Trout ESB   4.5%;  38 IBUs
Porter – bitterness from roasted malt
Festive IBA   7% – bitterness from hops
Seeing Double IPA   9.5%; 110 IBUs
Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout  10.5% – aroma is flammable!  This beer is smooth with chocolate, but not ovepowering.

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