Our Flagship IPA
“A pint of Jump the Jetty, please.”
These are words you’ll never say, and for good reason. However, had history been a little different, had some butterfly in China flapped its wings one more time and sent a ripple effect throughout the cosmos, the beer you’ve come to know and love as Cape May IPA might never have come to be.
The name Jump the Jetty came from a boating accident, the aftermath of which Ryan and Hank witnessed in Newport Beach, CA, when Hank went out to visit Ryan.
“There was a 50-foot rental boat that was on the jetty, and a bystander who saw the whole thing told us it looked like the boat was trying to jump the jetty. That’s always stuck with us.”
At the time, Jump the Jetty was Hank’s brainchild. Only the second beer he’d ever brewed, it started “a few years out of college,” but exactly when is a little hazy.
“The first beer, also an IPA, was a kit,” he says, “but with the second batch, I started on my own recipes.”
It was all he brewed back then. While Ryan was more willing to try different recipes, branching out into the Honey Porter and lagers, Hank subscribed to the theory that practice makes perfect.
“I pretty much just brewed IPA, then I’d change it and brew it again,” he said. “I just kept playing with the recipe.”
He’d play with the grains a bit — at one point it was a Rye IPA — and made some tweaks here and there to the hops bill.
“It was always Cascade-heavy,” he says, “but at one point there was also Chinook and Centennial in there.”
The idea to open a brewery was just forming in their minds, and, as they searched for a location for the brewery, Mop Man was thoroughly unimpressed by their choice.
“Ryan came to me and said, ‘We’re looking to get a place at the airport,’” he recalls. “It was like a moonscape. A desert. There were no businesses. It was completely empty.”
He thought they were crazy.
As they were settling on the recipe, they brought what they thought was going to be their finished product to Mop Man for a taste.
“I gave them my honest feedback,” he says. “It had all these hops thrown in at once, and I didn’t like it. It was too hoppy. So they went back to the drawing board.”
The next time around was met with Mop Man’s approval.
“I guess it was drinkable!” Hank says.
While Ryan was dabbling in other styles, they knew that Jump the Jetty was the first one they’d be brewing at CMBC.
“At the time — it’s still true — you had to have an IPA,” Hank says. “It was the up-and-coming craft beer, so we went with the IPA.”
But, deep down, it was really because they all loved the beer.
“It’s probably what we drank the most,” Hank says.
“The beer was good,” Ryan remembers. “It was a 90s-style IPA, hoppy and piney.”
“We were off to the races with it,” Mop Man says.
None of the guys really expected much of their first brewing endeavor.
“At the time, it was nothing more than a hobby business,” Ryan says.
Mop Man agreed. When asked if he expected Jump the Jetty to become the beer it is today, he says, “Absolutely not! I had no idea.” But he’s always had faith in “his boys,” Ryan and Hank.
“I remember my dad just took the corny keg down to Cabanas and said, ‘Here ya go!’ and they were totally into it,” Ryan says. “It was the only account in town and we struggled to keep up with them.”
Through the years, we’ve improved upon the beer. Not through recipe tweaks as Hank had in the beginning, but mainly through processes and improvements to the equipment. We’ve improved the workings on the administrative side, with Ryan originally handling sales and managing orders, to where we are now: a 61-person team.
We’ve come a long way from that original 12-gallon system.
“Today the IPA is much more complex, balanced and bright,” Ryan says.
And while the beer has gone through some changes, it’s still the same basic recipe Hank started out with in his mid-twenties, fresh from college, without much more than a love for beer, a good friend, and an unquenched thirst for adventure.
“It’s the best it’s ever been.” Hank says.
In more ways than one, man.
Cape May IPA is now available in bottles, cans, and on draft in the Tasting Room and Brewtique and at better bars and liquor stores throughout the area.