There is Something Afoot in J-Town
Craft Brewery Startup is Underway
Overnight camping trips, long lines, crazy mark ups, and many other hurdles have been jumped through by beer enthusiasts in search of sought after limited releases. Many such releases are for big, rich stouts, which are often flavored with cacao nibs, coffee, vanilla, or a multitude of other ingredients. Often these releases are like those for rare bourbons, with people bringing multiple “mules” to get extras just to sell or trade them online. This makes the drinkers plight even more difficult, as the already scarce supply is quickly depleted, and demand is ever increasing.
This plight is what led to the creation of Burning Foot Brewing. Three friends came together over the novel idea that if they could brew these big flavored stouts they could drink them on a regular basis, without having to spend hours in lines or paying ridiculous markups. What started off not so long ago as a small five gallon garage based operation quickly grew into a thirty gallon outfit looking to move into a dedicated space and open up as a professional brewery within the next year or so.
It all started one evening at 3rd Turn Brewing, when Nicholas Clark, who’d recently moved to the area about a month prior, met Ed Higginbotham, who ironically enough lived right across the street from Clark. The two bonded over their affinity for good beer, and made plans to attend Tailspin Ale Fest together. It was at Tailspin that the idea occurred. During the festival, Higginbotham introduced Clark to Erik Vaught, and after imbibing vast quantities of beer the discussion turned to homebrewing; because what great ideas didn’t start over a good drink?
Shortly after, the guys got together again and the discussion once again turned to homebrewing. At this point Higginbotham revealed to them that he had in fact ordered a homebrewing kit the evening of Tailspin, and it would be arriving at any day. Less than 2 weeks passed between that drunken talk and their first day brewing. Less than a month after the original conversation, they had their first beer bottled in March. They had wasted no time in getting started, and appear to be moving at the same rate towards their expansion and official opening.
So, the obvious question. Where did the name “Burning Foot” originate? Did someone actually burn their foot? Turns out, that is indeed exactly what happened. During their first brew session, while Clark and Higginbotham were sparging (a process where you run hot water through the grain bed to extract the wort), the grain sleeve slipped and fell into the mash tun. You can probably see where this is going; near boiling mash splashed out and landed on the guys feet, burning them. Vaught was close by, and in between fits of laughter and taking photographs of the mishap he suggested the name “Burning Foot”.
Since February the three have come closer and closer to perfecting their craft, and they’ve found their niche. Focusing on rich, over the top, ridiculously big stouts that push 22% ABV they have already made a name for themselves amongst local craft consumers. Thoroughbrewd, a bourbon “barrel” aged (they’re currently using bourbon soaked oak chips) stout with maple and coffee, is what a Kentucky breakfast stout should be. Coffee dominates the nose, but it is backed by sweet maple notes, with the whiskey punching through on the end. The nose doesn’t hide anything, it lets you know that this is going to be big, rich, and boozy. Upon first sip, you’re taken aback by just how rich and full bodied the beer is, it is YUGE! Coffee is still in the lead, doing its best to balance out the sweetness. Maple is not far behind though, along with some roasted qualities and hints of cocoa. Drinking this is like drinking a melted down chocolate torte; absolutely delicious, but overwhelmingly rich. The alcohol sneaks up on you, those with a sweet tooth will get themselves in trouble as the 22% ABV is well masked by full flavors and sweetness. Part of why they chose to brew such big, rich, high ABV beers though is to dissuade one from drinking on their own. They want people to come together over their beer, to share it and savor in it with friends.
There is also a Canadian version of their breakfast stout, currently aged with Crown Royal. While the base beers are quite similar, the different whiskey finish brings the maple to the forefront instead of the coffee. Along the same vein they have a rum finished coconut stout, a red wine finished stout, and one of my other favorites, Smorgasbord, a stout with marshmallow, chocolate, and macadamia nut. These are also big, rich, 20+% stouts, and are every bit as delicious as Thoroughbrewd.
Outside of these huge stouts, which will be limited releases, they have developed a hoppy barleywine that is quite interesting, and a phenomenal Double India Pale Ale that strikes a great balance between aromatic and bitter hops. These will make up part of their core line up, which will be further fleshed out by an Imperial Brown Ale, a Belgian Tripel, and other standard styles. Nothing will be brewed under 6% ABV though, they want to carry their big beer vibe throughout everything they offer.
Over the next year Clark, Vaught, and Higginbotham will continue to develop and perfect their recipes. They are currently working with investors to secure funding, and have been in talks with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers in preparation for going through the licensing required to open. The tentative plan is to open in Middletown, an area underserved by local craft. This is largely dependent on finding the right location though, which will ultimately decide where they settle. Burning Foot won’t only be a brewery either, but a farm to table restaurant as well. Clark is a chef by trade, and will utilize his experience by designing the entire menu. He hopes to highlight their beers by utilizing them in multiple menu dishes, and wants to source as many ingredients as possible from local farmers and other purveyors.
Louisville has enjoyed the craft beer boom that has swept the country, with numerous local breweries opening in the past few years. None the less, if Burning Foot continues to push the envelope of brewing as they have been, and keeps on track brewing quality beers, I can’t imagine they won’t be a welcome addition to the local beer community.
Get connected with Burning Foot on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BurningFootBrewing/
* Full disclosure – Burning Foot supplied me with multiple samples of their beers. Regardless, my thoughts here within are without censor and my own alone.