EDITOR’S NOTE: this is a guest blog provided by Foothills Marketing Director Ray Goodrich. Both his parents graduated from UT, so he’s OK. In Part 2, we pop a top and Snob Don tells it like it is.
Go ahead. Get Jaded.
That’s what the label copy implores you to do on Jade IPA, one of our most popular beers.
In what we feel is the formidable lineup of Foothills’ brands, Jade has more than held its own over the course of its short lifetime. Since it introduction Super Bowl weekend 2011, it’s been one of our best-selling and most talked-about beers.
It has indeed come a long way — from its humble and auspicious birth amongst the sights (and scents) of the 2007 Craft Brewer’s Conference in Austin, Texas.
It was there that Jamie Bartholomaus, brewmaster of then-barely-two-years-old Foothills Brewing, and T.L. Adkisson, head brewer for Ham’s in Greenville, NC, were wandering through the Conference Expo, looking at equipment and raw materials and dreaming of bigger and better days for their respective breweries. As is usually the case, the hops growers (Hop Union, in this case) had several bales of hops broken open, to allow brewers to taste and smell their newest wares. Jamie picked up a handful of a new varietal called New Zealand Pacific Jade and took a deep whiff.
Turning to T.L. he said, “Man I could make a pillow out of this stuff.”
T.L. was equally enamored. As he remembers, “It was definitely unique. Instead of having the citrusy qualities of Pacific Northwest hops, I smelled mango, guava — Jade had all these tropical fruit notes going on.”
Back home, both Jamie and T.L. followed up with Hop Union, trying to get their hands on some Jade hops. Both were told the same thing . . . what they’d seen (and smelled) in Austin were only samples — the initial big harvest wasn’t due for another few years.
Fast forward to 2010 . . . T.L. had become head brewer at Foothills, and one day his brewmaster (Jamie) walked up to him and said, “Guess what? Remember those hops we fell in love with in Austin? I just bought 440 pounds of ’em.” Scratching his head, he added “I’m just not sure what we’re gonna do with ’em.”
T.L. smiled and replied, “I know what we’re gonna do with ’em.”
Within an hour he had written out a recipe for Jade IPA — the same recipe that, with a few minor tweaks, we’re still using today.
More than a third of that first batch disappeared that Super Bowl weekend, and the love affair was kindled. North Carolina craft beer drinkers spent the next three years downing pint after pint, longing for the day they could take this magic elixir home with them.
So toward the end of December 2013, on a whim, our marketing department posted on Facebook that, if we could get to 15,000 likes by the end of January 2014, we’d bottle Jade. (At the time we had a little over 10,000 likes).
It took less than a month.
So we got busy. Our artist Kyle Webster came up with the iconic brand logo; his vision was so spot-on that almost no changes were made to the original drawing (we did add the little logo hair lock).
Further, instead of trumpeting the coming arrival of Jade bombers, we kept it a secret from everybody but employees and distributors, not releasing the info until the day bottles were actually on shelves.
The result? Demand for Jade skyrocketed, and we spent most of 2014 trying to keep up. In fact, after the initial two bottling runs, demand for draft remained so high we didn’t bottle it again for 10 months.
Since then we’ve installed four massive 300 BBL fermenters, so keeping up with the insatiable thirst for Jade has become a lot more manageable – to the point we introduced 6-packs around this time last year.
So we hope you’ll take advantage of your state’s new high-gravity laws, and give Jade (7.4% ABV) a try. If you haven’t done so yet, get familiar with the Find Foothills Beer Finder on our website — it’ll help you find Jade as it rolls out in eastern Tennessee.
And by all means — feel free to get Jaded.