TL Adkisson and Jamie Bartholomaus first met in 1998 at the Knoxville Brewers’ Jam. At that time, Adkisson was brewing for New Knoxville. Bartholomaus performed similar duties for Olde Hickory in Hickory, NC. As the pair progressed in their profession, they kept in touch, comparing notes, fostering what would become a long term friendship. When New Knox floundered, Adkisson moved to nearby City Brew and in 2001 landed the head brewer position in Greenville, NC at Ham’s Restaurant & Brewery, the NC-based Ham’s group’s first and only brewpub.
Meanwhile, Bartholomaus went to the other Greenville, in SC, and worked for Blue Ridge Brewing before taking an equity position in March 2005 with Winston-Salem, NC start-up brewpub, Foothills. Five years later, Foothills is a roaring, growling success with one big problem. The five-man brew team works 24/7 and can’t keep up with demand for Bartholomaus’ award-winning beers. The building is showing wear as well, sporting new concrete from a collapsed brewery floor and ceiling repair in the dining area.
Adkisson’s employer was struggling, showing wear as an ongoing concern. Several Ham’s had already closed earlier in the year. Although the brewing vet was selling every pint he produced, his college-town Ham’s was working in the red. It wasn’t the act but the timing that surprised him when the call came on a summer Sunday morning. Adkisson had already updated his résumé and was planning his next move, which he hoped would involve “working for brewery people.” When he called his buddy Bartholomaus to enlist his services as a job reference, the mash rake began to spin.
Growth for Foothills was inevitable. Bursting at the seams, larger quarters were the only real solution. Where he’d been struggling to brew 550 barrels each year at Ham’s, Adkisson suddenly found himself as head brewer for a brewing team making ten times that amount. Adkisson’s arrival in Winston-Salem allows Bartholomaus time to concentrate on the new production facility. “Maybe 98% certain,” the free-standing Foothills, which should open by third quarter 2011, will have a 50-barrel system and, within a couple of years, a bottling line.
The Foothills team works on, waiting anxiously for the new facility. Tim Harris, Bartholomaus’ first hire in 2005, still homebrews when he’s not at work. Evan Crutchfield worked at a couple of Asheville breweries before attending UC-Davis. He joined Foothills right out of brewing school. Anthony Rambler is another ex-New Knoxvillian. Intern Matt Sprinkle was in the first Applied Science and Business of Brewing class taught at Appalachian State University. Though he’s back in school for one more year, he’ll work weekend marketing for the brewery in the Boone, NC area.
When the new kettle boils, brewing will not cease at the downtown brewpub. Specialties, experimentals and best sellers will keep the 15-barrel brewery busy supplying 15 tap handles. The availability of hand-filled bottles, previously limited only to Foothills’ GABF medaling Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout, will increase in quantity and label.
Adkisson is in the process of moving wife Tiki, who works in an environmental testing lab, and four-year-old daughter Josie to Winston. Bartholomaus has even more adjustments to make as he and wife Sarah greeted their first born on August 20. Could Emma Sofia Bartholomaus (ESB) represent the beginning of a brewing dynasty?
While we don’t have any Foothills recipes to share you can always ask the brewers at the pub or brewery.
Foothills Brewing home page www.foothillsbrewing.com/