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Foothills expanding into DC, northern Virginia markets

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Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem is one of North Carolina's many breweries. (Winston-Salem Journal photo)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Foothills Brewing Co. is taking its craft brews into the metro areas of Virginia and Washington after reaching distribution deals in those markets.

The company, based in Winston-Salem, said Wednesday it will sell its core brands in Norfolk, Richmond and in northern Virginia. Foothills expects to be selling the beers in those markets by Christmas.

Foothills is ranked among ratebeer.com’s 100 best breweries in the world. It brews more than 20 year-round, plus seasonal offerings. Among its bestsellers are Hoppyum IPA, Sexual Chocolate and Carolina Blonde.

The company has 110 employees and expects to add more as demand for its beers increase.

“We’re very excited about this latest edition of Foothills growth,” said Jamie Bartholomaus, president and brewmaster of Foothills. “Virginia has over 50 breweries, so there’s plenty of enthusiasm for craft beer in the state.”

Among the distributors in the new partnerships are Chesbay and Premium, both subsidiaries of Reyes Holdings.

Jessica Muskey, vice president of marketing for Premium, said her company was attracted by Foothills’ history of producing “well-respected brews.”

“They have also been one of the most-requested brands from retailers in our market. They’re the first North Carolina-based brewery we’ll be distributing and will fit nicely into our portfolio.”

The northward move comes after Foothills added distribution in South Carolina earlier this year.

Both expansions were made possible in large part through the purchase in April of four 200-barrel fermentation vessels.

The company said those vessels eventually will increase production by 72 percent, as well as allow it to use its existing 100-barrel vessels for new flavor development. The vessels were placed in Foothills’ 50,000-square-foot brewing facility in south Winston-Salem.

The expansion will enable Foothills to brew up to 40,000 barrels a year, compared with just more than 13,000 barrels now.

“The move in January to wholesale distribution has raised the bar,” Bartholomaus said in April.

“Our partner wholesalers have done an amazing job creating a much larger market for our brands, so increasing our production capacity is the next logical step in our growth.”

Bartholomaus said in April there are plans to sell its brews as far west as Nashville, Tenn. The company is limiting distribution to no more than 300 miles from Winston-Salem.