It tastes so fine, don’t you agree
It’s about 1 a.m. when my roommate and I show up at Foothills, and the line is already to the parking lot. As we take our place in the back, it’s clear we are woefully underprepared. The two guys in front of us have set up chairs and a large cooler, and the group that steps in behind us brings mattresses and blankets.
The Sexual Chocolate release is always a big event. It’s rated as one of the best beers in the country (if not the world). This is a special batch, aged in bourbon barrels, and has attracted beer nerds from around the country. Our neighbors have driven down from Washington, DC and up from Atlanta, though they are far from the farthest who have ventured to Winston-Salem for the release. One group has driven all the way from Indiana and another from Ohio. The best part is: They all bring beer.
There is sort of an understanding with the police that as long as drinks are kept hidden and in opaque containers and everyone behaves themselves, people can sample out or trade the rare bottles they’ve brought down. The officer watching over the line tells me she’s done this for every Foothills event over the past three years, and that for the most part it’s a pretty tame crowd, though this one is the biggest she’s seen. No one is really drunk or rowdy, and a decent number are already asleep, waiting until they hand out wristbands in the morning.
I opt to take a quick nap on the sidewalk, and when I wake up an hour later the line wraps around the parking lot and into the garage next door. We are just on the edge of the first 100 people, and will be able to get our four bottles. Those arriving now will probably not be so lucky.
The pub opens at 8 a.m., and we’re able to secure a booth with a few other guys. Everyone orders a glass of the Sexual Chocolate. Servers bring around plates full of sausage biscuits. Our waitress sets down our beers, thick and dark. The beer smells incredible, and after the first sip it’s apparent why people have driven halfway across the country for it. It tastes like coffee and chocolate, with a nice bourbon flavor from the barrel aging. It’s strange to be drinking at 8:30 a.m. while eating biscuits, but in the crowd surrounded by friends it feels surprisingly wholesome.
I buy my four bottles — the limit for this limited batch — without hesitation despite the $20 price tag. It’s simply a stellar beer, and a good example of how far American brewing has come in the last few decades. We walk through the parking lot on the way back to the car, and it looks like the night after any big event, except the empty bottles left out are more Three Floyds and Cigar City and less Icehouse and Milwaukee’s Best. It’s pretty amazing that Foothills has garnered this kind of acclaim, and they deserve it. They’ve made something incredible, and as a Winston- Salem native I couldn’t be more proud.
I’ll be back next year, though maybe next time I’ll bring a chair.
Foothills Brewing; 638 West 4th Street, Winston- Salem; 336.777.3348; foothillsbrewing.com