How does any trend start?
Because brewing beer is both an art and a science, the Brut IPA, the latest on-trend style many of your favorite brewers are making, is still evolving.
“I think a brewer in San Francisco was the first one to do it,” says Ommegang brewmaster Phil Leinhart, and he’s right. Kim Sturdavant, of Social Kitchen & Brewery, is credited with its invention. “It’s a very dry, light on the mouth, effervescent, non-filling. I think that’s why people seem to like it.”
“It’s what a typical IPA would be if you dried it out,” says Bryan Greenhagen, founder of Mystic Brewery.
“The finish should almost disappear,” adds Stone’s senior manager of brewing innovation, Jeremy Moynier.
Brut IPAs draw their name from the champagne, and offer an antidote to the juicy haze-bombs that are the New England style. Ommegang’s version, for example is highly effervescent and dry-hopped to give off dank aromas of pine, grapefruit, and pineapple.
“It’s not really sweet,” says Leinhart. “It should be relatively clear if not brilliant.”
Adds Moynier: “One of the key attributes is not feeling the alcohol. These can be dangerous in a good way.”
Not every Brut IPA is built the same. Rather than shy away from the New England IPA, Mystic’s Greenhagen starts with one, drying out Voltage IPA for Hyperdry, a Brut IPA with flavors of guava, papaya, and white grape.
“We’ve found it so interesting that we’re brewing other beers with it,” says Greenhagen of the enzyme amyloglucosidase, which dries Brut IPAs out and was once used mostly for imperial stouts. In addition to the IPA, Mystic makes a Brut saison.
Not everyone is a fan. Late last year, Banded Brewing made a rosé-colored, extra Brut IPA, but brewer Ian McConnell says “That itch has been scratched.”
In contrast, Night Shift has made two — one hopped with citra and simcoe, another made with white grape must. There’s a third, in planning, that’s brewed with orange puree and will drink like a mimosa.
“To see the combination of extra dry beer with a bright orange character should be super cool,” says Joe Mashburn, Night Shift’s head brewer. On the style as a whole, Mashburn says, “I think it’s a fad, but it is a very cool marriage of science and hopping techniques that are a little more crafty.”
“I hope it’s something people get into,” adds Greenhagen. “I like it better than the New England style IPAs. It’s well attenuated. We wouldn’t brew something that we didn’t think is a good beer just to latch onto a trend.”
Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.