In Todd we trust: Morganton’s Fonta Flora Brewery hosts a beer release to benefit environmental conservation efforts

LAND OF CRAFT BEER: Fonta Flora Brewery's soon-to-be-released Land Trust Appalachian Apple Saison is brewed with spicebush twigs harvested on lnads protected by the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and hundreds of pounds of organic apples from Morganton's Fox Gap Farms. Photo courtesy of Fonta Flora Brewery

On Saturday, Jan. 16, Morganton’s Fonta Flora Brewery will release three new beers including Land Trust, which was brewed in collaboration with The Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina. Proceeds will be donated to the Conservancy, an organization dedicated to preserving the environmental sanctity of the foothills region of western North Carolina.

Land Trust Appalachian Apple Saison, a saison brewed with locally sourced malts from Riverbend Malt House and certified organic apples from Fox Gap Farms, was a collaboration heavily influenced by input from representatives of the Conservancy, as well as by local ingredients, such as spicebush twigs foraged on Foothills Conservancy lands. When approached by the Conservancy with the idea for a collaboration, Fonta Flora head brewer Todd Boera was onboard immediately. “They’re doing some really magical work for us in this area,” says Boera of the organization’s efforts to secure large tracts of land in the region for environmental preservation.

Land Trust also benefitted greatly from the participation of Fox Gap Farms, the sole orchard producing certified organic apples in Burke County and one of only a handful in North Carolina. In addition to 200 pounds of apples pressed for cider incorporated during fermentation, Fox Gap also provided applewood that was used to smoke local pilsner malt from Riverbend Malt House.

Fox Gap’s contributions to Saturday’s festivities will not be limited to their produce, however, as orchard owner Gary McCurry will also be on hand to play banjo with bluegrass band Bear Wallow.

This is not the first time Fonta Flora has released three beers simultaneously, a practice Boera says is intended to provide extra incentive to craft-beer drinkers willing to make the pilgrimage to Morganton. “We want folks to come in from all around and get the most bang for their buck and time coming out here,” he says, noting that at least two bottles are typically available on release days. The last triple release was at the February 2015 Funk and Monk event, which will return this year on Feb. 20.

Label art for Sal De Gusano

In addition to Land Trust, Fonta Flora will also be releasing Sun Gold Appalachian Grisette, featuring raw Sungold spelt from Red Tail Grains of Efland, N.C., and Sal De Gusano, the brewery’s anniversary beer that was originally slated for release in November.

An 11.2 percent ABV imperial stout brewed with Outer Banks sea salt and cocoa nibs from Asheville’s own French Broad Chocolates, Sal De Gusano was subsequently aged in mezcal barrels for 10 months until Boera decided it was at its peak. While Sal De Gusano has attracted much of the attention for this release as the strongest beer Fonta Flora has yet bottled, Boera emphasizes that the event’s focus is to raise awareness and support for the efforts of the Foothills Conservancy.

Purchase limits will apply for these limited-release beers, with 12 bottles of Sun Gold available per customer, six bottles of Land Trust and only three bottles of Sal De Gusano, the latter having a bottling run of roughly 500. Boera recommends that customers arrive well before sales begin at 3 p.m., but strongly discourages those considering camping overnight near the brewery out of consideration for its neighbors.

He also reassures those drinkers concerned about missing out on the more limited bottles that all three beers will be pouring on draft alongside some other special offerings. Boera and the rest of the Fonta Flora team have gone to great lengths to manage the logistics of the release as efficiently as possible to ensure that craft-beer enthusiasts willing to make the trek to Morganton will not go home disappointed: “Each release is a learning experience that we’ve compiled to try to make it a pleasurable experience for everybody.”


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