I stumbled across Rita in a bright, sterile hallway in the Forsyth County Animal Shelter a few years ago. Then a 3-year-old grey tabby, she had an ear-splitting, pitiful yowl (she was deaf, come to find out) that pierced my heart, and I couldn’t say no.

Adopting a pet is an enormous responsibility, and not everyone can afford the time or effort. But contributing to the welfare of our community doesn’t have to take much of each — especially for those of us who love Foothills IPAs.

The brewery’s new Craft Happiness IPA series draws attention to animal, human and environmental needs, with proceeds donated to area charities and other nonprofits.

Released on Jan. 20, Domicile, the first in the series, focuses on homelessness and affordable housing. Thanks to Cascade hops, its flavor divides the mouth between floral and fruity, like splitting boards at a build site.

As part of the initiative, Foothills has teamed with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County on the House that Beer Built, a project that intends to raise $100,000 for the construction of a home and associated costs in Forsyth County. From June to August, local bottleshops, brew-themed restaurants and breweries will hold promotional parties, including Foothills, Wise Man Brewing, Small Batch Brewing and the Beer Growler.

“People don’t have to make a huge investment to make a big difference,” says Ray Goodrich, marketing director of Foothills.

Past IPA of the Month series saw breezy vintage pin-up girls in 2014 and Foothills followers’ beloved pet dogs in 2015, including the pub’s own golden retriever, Barley, and actor Wil Wheaton’s rescue pit bulls.

In 2016, the brewery switched to Hop of the Month, which rotated among different hop varieties and beer styles. Brewmaster TL Adkisson says the hop series was “the Bowie of beer.”

“It was ahead of its time,” he says, because it didn’t catch on with predominantly IPA drinkers.

In the midst of a return to IPAs, Adkisson — who has so much experience brewing IPAs for Foothills that he doesn’t test his recipes before brewing them large-scale — is in the process of “chasing several varieties [of hops] right now,” getting his hands on experimental types. He also plans to experiment with different malts, centrifuge techniques and dry-hopping times — all of which could improve Foothills’ core beers.

The response to the new series has been “overwhelming,” says Goodrich, and another year is already in the works.

Upcoming themes run the gamut from trail maintenance and natural water resources to children’s charities and healthy lifestyles. The next IPA in the series, Haven, which was tapped at Foothills on Feb. 17, supports rescue animals and uses Citra hops.

Craft Happiness IPAs are currently on draft in much of Foothills’ usual distribution area, and bottles will be sold throughout North Carolina. Some will be included in new Hop Box IPA variety packs.

Although the Craft Happiness series will allow Foothills to financially contribute to communities within the distribution range, Goodrich, a former SeaWorld trainer, mentions other ways people can give back, such as donating wish list items to Samaritan Ministries and pet food to the Forsyth Humane Society.

“The monetary number is a sidebar,” he says. “Awareness and changing people’s behaviors are the true win.”

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