A Desire for Clean Water Connects Foothills Brewing to its Consumers

foothills brewing

North Carolina’s Foothills Brewing is challenging other breweries in the state, and across the country, to do their part in keeping water clean as Earth Day looms near.

“It’s 93 percent of the product we make,” said Foothills’ marketing manager Ray Goodrich about the water around the Winston-Salem, North Carolina brewery.
The brewery set forth to not just challenge other breweries, but all craft beer drinkers to do their part in cleaning up waterways across the state and country to help protect the environment. Not just for the beer business, but for everybody.

“It’s the single most important natural resource to our industry,” Foothills wrote in a blog post earlier in April. “It deserves our gratitude, our respect and our attention. This month, at least from us, it’s going to get plenty of those.”

Foothills is doing many things to raise water cleanup awareness this month, many that breweries across the country can find their own ways to tie into as well.

First, its staff will participate in a waterborne creek cleanup with the Yadkin Riverkeeper. Originally planned for April 9, which was the Great American Cleanup Day nationally, severe weather halted the chance and postponed the activity until later this month.

Foothills brewed a trio of beers last year, called the Riverkeeper Lager Series and raised money from its sales to be able to present a check to Yadkin Riverkeeper locally for $3,000.

A more fun aspect and a way to involve consumers in more than labor was to work their minds with special trivia rounds at the taproom pub dedicated to water trivia with prizes donated by a local creek awareness committee.

Foothills is driving the cause via social media as well, using the hashtag #NCBeerMonthChallenge. The brewery is encouraging consumers to help pick up trash when they see it, snap a picture and use the hashtag to show they care about their environment. It also shows consumer interaction with the brewery, which can create brand loyalty.

foothills brewing

Other North Carolina breweries rose to the challenge as well. Charlotte’s Birdsong held an event locally and collected mounds of trash from the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

The national celebration of Earth Day is April 22, but Goodrich said the brewery wanted to tie in the environmental aspects of the cleanup along with promoting brotherhood among the more than 160 breweries in the state by connecting with breweries under 5,000 barrels per year and trading kegs — called ‘Hop Swap’ — for a planned celebration this weekend.

“We are just showing support to guys going through the same challenges, that not very long ago, we were going through,” Goodrich said. “We are here for them and we haven’t forgotten where we came from and we haven’t forgotten the brotherhood of craft beer.”

Citing ‘co-opetition’ Goodrich agreed there is room in the market for all of the breweries in the state, big and small.

“I think there is a great deal of equity and power with a state that has 151 breweries in it, getting them all to pull in the same direction,” he said “And that’s what the challenge is all about.”

Recently adding three 400-barrel fermentors and a 400-bbl brite tank, the brewery that opened its doors in 2005 and had 37,700 bbls last year now can increase its capacity to about 72,000 bbls with 44,000 expected in 2016.

Already having announced an expansion into West Virginia on the horizon, most of the extra capacity will go to serving the local accounts, Goodrich said.

“We want to take care of home markets, especially North Carolina,” he said.

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