Brut IPA: Bone-dry beers are the next big thing

Brut IPA: The new discovery of creative brewers.
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Creative brewers are always sniffing around for new inspiration when it comes to aroma and distinctive ingredients. Their latest discovery goes by the name of Brut IPA (India Pale Ale), which is brewed with special enzymes or yeast to give it a true champagne-like character.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a style of beer more varied than India Pale Ale: It has managed to seep into all corners of the world and, for many, the letters IPA are all but synonymous with the new beer movement. Low-alcohol, milkshake-like and fruity-hazy IPAs all had their time in the limelight, and now brut IPAs are the new darling of the global beer-enthusiast scene. These top-fermented beers feature a moderately malty character, low residual sweetness and a bone-dry, effervescent mouthfeel – similar to the brut champagne it was named after. In terms of taste, the fruity notes of the hops take center stage, while the bitter component lingers in the wings.

Brut IPA: Still a very new import from the U.S.

As with many fresh interpretations of beer styles, brut IPAs also got their start stateside. This new type of IPA was invented by the brewmaster at Social Brewing in San Francisco. Kim Sturdavant had the bright idea to add a special amylase enzyme, generally reserved for porters and stouts, to make the beer thin – in other words, very low in sugar – without reducing alcohol content. “Brewing a beer like this is quite a challenge,” the brewmaster says.

But Sturdavant’s take on IPA has obviously found a thirsty audience – and not just among consumers. Brewers all around the world have jumped on board, from Sam Adams and New Belgium to Greenpoint Brewing and Stone Brewing. Since Sturdavant’s invention, well-known creative brewers across the U.S. have auditioned their own contributions to the new beer style. Sierra Nevada even recently debuted a brut specialty as a seasonal spring special release.

Brut IPA flows over into Germany

The trend has started prickling tongues in Germany, too. Yankee & Kraut in Ingolstadt is one of the companies nudging it along, led by brewer Bryan France. Originally from the U.S., France developed his own recipe for the blend, even exchanging notes with Kim Sturdavant in the process. France assembled Topaz, Ariana, Callista and Hüll Melon hops varieties to lend his thin and very fruits Dry Humor brut IPA its special aroma.

Meanwhile at Kehrwieder, a creative brewery in Hamburg, Oliver Wesseloh crafted a bone-dry IPA that only has 0.05 percent residual sweetness. It owes its fruity notes to seven varieties of hops: Hüll Melon, Callista, Ariana, Mosaic, Chinook, Amarillo and Simcoe. Wesseloh believes brut IPAs are the most sustainable trend among the many IPA offshoots, and is now brewing several varieties of the beer. One of them was even recently awarded a medal by the Hop Growers of America.

A wave of Brut IPA bubbles across Eastern Europe

Brut IPA fever has now spread its way clear through Eastern Europe. In Tallinn, for example, the creative team at Tanker Brewery just released a six-percent brut IPA called Discombobulation, which garnered four out of five stars from fans in the online rating platform Untappd. The Polish brewery Browar Stu Mostów has also fallen under the amylase enzyme’s spell and has concocted some potions of its own. Its ART.+19 Rye Brut IPA, created in collaboration with the Basque brewery Laugar, uses glucoamylase.

Special yeasts instead of enzymes

SNot all brewers are relying on enzymes to achieve that distinct effervescence for their brut IPAs. Many have turned to special yeasts instead. The Cloudwater Brew Company from England, for instance, teamed up with Denmark’s Evil Twin to ferment Pét Nat Slushie with champagne yeast and achieves the same bone-dry, bubbly effect. Looking at these different interpretations of brut IPA that have already hit the scene, it seems safe to say that beer aficionados can expect to raise a glass to many more varieties in the future.

Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).