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Jamie Bartholomaus

April, 2001

By Bobby Bush

Jamie Bartholomaus has been brewing for Olde Hickory Brewery since October, 1998. Born in Queens, NY, but raised in Delaware and Pennsylvania, Jamie attended the University of Georgia in Athens, choosing anthropology as his major. His first encounter with beer, at age 15, was unexciting Busch beer. College provided a better experience. He found California-brewed Sierra Nevada Pale Ale during his freshman year in Georgia. Life has been kinder ever since.

Moving from dormitory to apartment for the sophomore semesters, Jamie and his roommates discovered homebrewing. The local homebrew supply store, owned by John Gayer, became their hangout. When Gayer later became the brewer for Blind Man Brewing in 1994 or so, Jamie was there to offer help, especially with the labor-intensive bottling process. Graduation in June 1996 changed the game a bit. Putting in 30-40 hours per week as an underpaid employee, Jamie began brewing for Blind Man in early ‘97. Just a few months later he found a real job digging through historic sites for Southeast Archeological Services. But beer was pumping steadily through his veins. So when brewer David Fowlkes, a friend from Athens, left the head brewer slot open at Vista Brewing in Columbia, SC, Jamie jumped at the chance to re-enter the brewing world, even though the tiny brewpub’s beer consumption was small as well.

Leaving bones and artifacts behind, Jamie took the summer of 1998 off. He moved to Bat Cave, near Asheville, and commuted to Columbia to brew a Vista beer each week. Once, while on a trip to visit his sister in Greensboro, Jamie stopped in for a beer at Olde Hickory Brewing and happened to meet owners Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates. Barely two weeks had passed when Doug Riley, brewer at Asheville’s Two Moons (now known as Asheville Pizza and Brewing) alerted Jamie that Olde Hickory had feelers out for a brewer. Five interviews later, the slender northerner-turned-Georgia boy landed the job at the west Hickory brewpub.

In short time, Jamie learned the peculiarities of the OHB seven barrel system and the taste preferences of his customers. His brewing touch was immediately noticeable as he tweaked the Olde Hickory extract recipes ever so slightly. A moderately bitter IPA, Table Rock Pale Ale is the brewery’s best seller. Brown Mountain Light and Piedmont Ale are easy-drinking beers, designed for beginners and budmillercoors drinkers. Crawdad Red is malty, revealing only a faint hops flirtation. Big, bold and slightly harsh from black patent and chocolate malts, Hickory Stick Stout rounds out the brewery’s regular offerings.

Well versed as brewpub brewer, Jamie now has the opportunity of brewing those regular brews at the new Olde Hickory Brewery in all-grain batches at over three times the volume. The downtown, distributing microbrewery, which acquired the brewpub’s name, has a 22 barrel brewhouse, six cylindro-conical fermenters, two conditioning tanks, glycol coolant system, grain mill and plenty of room to grow. A bottling system awaits electrical work, though the brewery is underway now as a kegs-only operation. And with all this going on, the bearded, bespectacled brewer is teaching his successor at the brewpub, August Lightfoot, the finer points of the brewpub’s brewing system.

Jamie has been itching to brew all-grain again. Though it means more work for him, all-grain “beers will taste different, better,” he states. The energetic brewer is “focused on making beer.” That is why he’s here. And to prove it, he recently bought a house and has obvious intentions to stay put for a while.

The immediate game plan looks like this. When Jamie’s not brewing, he’ll be out selling and delivering, as will co-owner Lyerly. OHB beers will be self-distributed within a 100 mile radius, covering Charlotte, Boone, Asheville, Greensboro and all cities in-between.

Though malted barley, hops, yeast and water are essential ingredients, it takes good people to make good beer. In Jamie Bartholomaus and August Lightfoot, Olde Hickory has found two bright and sincere individuals. These brewing dynamos not only work hard, but love good beer. Stop in and let Jamie and August know how much you appreciate their superb craftsmanship. A toast would be appreciated.

Log-on to http://holisticpage.com/ohb for the latest on Olde Hickory and Amos Howard’s.

(Read about Olde Hickory's other brewer: August Lightfoot).

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush

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