Name: Jade IPA
Brewery: Foothills Brewing
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Winston-Salem, NC
Style: American IPA
Alcohol Content (ABV): 7.4%
Last post I wrote about a brewery that dares not meddle with a straight IPA, The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery. This week, I dive right into one of the grandfathers of the North Carolina IPA: Foothills. Their standard, year-round, widely distributed IPA (Hoppyum) is about as solid as you can get for a consistent year-round IPA. Great fruit flavors, nice pine backbone, and appropriate bitterness round out a great approachable IPA. They also make the most sought after stout in the state (dear God if I take another call asking if we have Sexual Chocolate, I might blow a gasket), but their barrel-aged stout probably outshines well the rest of the state.
I’m here to talk IPAs. Wicked Weed Brewing in Asheville has caught some serious, albeit deserved, recognition for Freak of Nature, their DIPA that instantly became a hit. Other breweries saw this trend, and kicked in. Aviator Brewing Company in Fuquay-Varina made their DIPA (Horsepower) that showed extremely well in many blind tastings, as did Dueces Wild from Big Boss Brewing (Raleigh), Cryin’ Holy from Steel String Brewery (Carrboro), and Imperial Hop, Drop, n Roll from NoDa Brewing Company (Charlotte) – these guys deserve an entire post for their beer; they just destroy every style they make.
After seeing this influx of great IPAs, the locals started stepping up their game. Fullsteam started to re-vamp their Rocket Science IPA, and it tastes better than I’ve ever seen. Bull City Burger and Brewery Morven’s Alley is improving, but Triple C Brewing Co. in Charlotte gets a nod here. Their 3C IPA shows somewhere on the medal podium of NC IPAs (with Foothills Jade and NoDa Hop Drop, n Roll).
The dark horse here is The Mash House Brewery and Huske Hardware in Fayetteville. Both put out an incredible IPA that no one looks at given the town. The Brickhouse IPA from Mash House has a similar hop profile to Jade and early batches of Hop, Drop, n Roll, but the impressive part is that it’s only been done once. Mash House’s Hoppy Hour is a Bell’s Two-Hearted clone that does it just as well, possibly better. It’s less sweet, and a touch more drinkable. Don’t sleep on these two because you’ll regret it.
Now I move to my thoughts on Foothills Jade.
In the Glass: This thing looks beautiful from the bottle. It’s been floating around on draft for a few years, but this is just stunning. A pillowy white head fed by tons of carbonation just sits there, begging for a picture.
Nose: It’s an American IPA, there’s no doubt about that. Citra and Jade hops just really shine through. I think what impressed me the most is the fact that the malt bill is just so clean, yet the hop profile is so insanely East Coast. It’s like a huge affront to the West Coast Giants of Green Flash, Russian River, and Alpine. HUGE orange and lemon notes just assert themselves, with mangoes and papaya in a close tie for third.
Flavor: There are no tricks up their sleeves here; this is an American IPA. Bitterness from the kettle hops actually comes out first like a bat out of hell (thankfully not a Meat Loaf reference), but there’s just this nice what I call “dank” flavor that many breweries are leaning toward (think Victory Hop Ranch/Dirt Wolf, Lagunitas Sucks, or NoDa Hop, Drop, n Roll – as you read earlier my vote for best NC IPA). The semi-sweet malt is definitely there and exactly what you would expect for an East Coast IPA – exceptionally clean malt bill and huge citrus fruits.
Mouthfeel: In style, this thing is perfect. Not too bitter, so it doesn’t hide the nice slightly sweet malt bill. It’s not too heavy like those somewhere-in-the-realm-of-8% IPAs that want to be DIPAs.
Drinks so smooth and light, yet it has the beautiful hops that many brewers aim for.
Aftertaste: The aftertaste is all aroma. The bitterness fades out quickly leaving exhalations of all mangoes and papayas. Tropical fruits are the theme here, and they are the last thing to disappear. Beautiful, damn near perfect, finish.
Rating: 4.65/5 (I’ve had this beer on draft in so many places, but this is my first bottle. I never thought anything could dethrone the glory that is combination of Columbus Brewing IPA/Fat Head’s Brewery Head Hunter in terms of East Coast IPAs, but this, the first ever bottled batch of Jade (as it’s known around here) is up there. The hop profile screams until its blue in the face tropical fruits, yet it’s got the malt bill to back it up.
If you enjoy any of Alpines, Pliny, Portland IPAs, or Cigar City Jai Alai, try this. It’s definitely a different take, but it’s well done. Get it fast, because it will fade off.
My thoughts after all of this? I used to think that Ohio could dismantle North Carolina in the IPA category. Fresh Great Lakes Commodore Perry tastes like a fruit bomb that you wouldn’t expect in an English IPA, Columbus Brewing IPA tastes like honest-to-God grapefruits, and Fat Head’s Head Hunter/Brew Kettle White Rajah are the big boys. Lagerheads in Medina did an amazing job with High 5 IPA, as did Jackie Os with Mystic Mama. Willoughby Moonshadow will surprise you with up front bitterness yet great fruit flavors. I really want to try Gangster Frog from Hoppin Frog, but that’s based on name alone.
Reading my post above, you’ll see that North Carolina really has some heavy contenders in the IPA category. Come over here, try what this great state has to offer. Stop in Ohio too; we know what we’re doing there as well.