Five years ago, when Jones Beach Brewing Company was a "oh man, imagine if we could pull that off" type of dream for our founders, we developed a recipe for an IPA. In order to understand where that recipe came from, though, we have to go even further back to when I began homebrewing.
After returning from a semester abroad and graduating, I had some free time along with searching for jobs. My college roommate was telling me how he and some of his friends from home had started brewing beer. It was a novel concept to me...something I had never really thought of as something that could be a hobby - or a future business venture, for that matter. I, of course, started small.
I drove an hour and a half to a homebrew supply store (intending) to buy a couple of small things and my first (and last, actually) recipe kit. A few hundred dollars later, I came home with way more equipment than I intended to get. That afternoon, I brewed my first batch and instantly became hooked. That first beer was a bit of a disaster, but there's a saying in homebrewing that goes "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew". The story of why that first attempt at brewing was such a trainwreck is a story for another day.
Anyone who knows me knows that I dive fully and completely into hobbies and immerse myself in them. My first batch was a pre-made recipe kit, that turned out...ok? I immediately went to work on researching and creating my own recipes from there. The second batch I ever brewed is the first iteration of what eventually became the Jones Inlet IPA.
Speaking of first iterations, the picture below was our original label for the JI IPA!
IPA as a style has changed a ton over the last 15 years. In the mid-to-late-2000s and early 2010s, they were bitter bombs. Basically, the entire push was to see how far brewers could go with the bitterness and many of those beers tasted and smelled more like grass clippings or a Christmas tree farm than beer. Thankfully, those days are behind us and we've moved onto a much more drinkable - and enjoyable - part of the evolution of IPAs.
The Jones Inlet Buoy is an iconic part of Jones Beach for boaters. The buoy is, for lack of a better term, a landmark (watermark?) for boaters to navigate the area. We wanted the JI IPA to be something similar for our brewery. A way to orient yourself to what was going on here at Jones Beach Brewing Company.
"Basically the entire push was to see how far brewers could go with the bitterness and many of those beers tasted and smelled more like grass-clippings or a Christmas tree farm than beer...Luckily, we're getting into a much more drinkable part of the evolution of IPAs."
We brewed countless batches of the IPA in the years we were trying to figure out how to transition from a T-Shirt company to a brewery. We brewed in many backyards, driveways, and patios while dialing in this recipe. When our license came through and we figured everything out with Lithology Brewing Company to get started, we were ready to brew. We ran into one small problem. Our license is as an NYS Farm Brewery, and therefore we need to use a certain percentage of NY-grown ingredients in all of our beers. And some hops just simply aren't grown in New York. It just so happens, that the hops we'd been using in our IPA were impossible to source from NY. So, with about a month until our first brew day, we set out to change the recipe.
Approachability was our main focus. We wanted to blend some of the old school with the new school. Eventually, we landed on Centennial and Cascade, two classic American Hops (coincidentally used during the bitterness wars I alluded to earlier). That classic "C" hop character, though, is what draws a lot of people in and provides a familiar backbone to the flavor and aroma of JI IPA. We combine that with the Excelsior hop blend from New York Hop guild as an aroma and dry hop addition to provide that modern IPA feel. The aroma is heavy on mango, sweet fruits, and even some faint floral notes. That flavor and aroma combination on top of a solid malt backbone turns into an IPA that has a little bit for everyone.
The comment we get the most is "I don't usually like IPAs, but this is great!". Which is fantastic, because that's exactly what we were going for. We hope that the JI IPA gets you to find your way back to JBBC time and time again.