Brew­ers’ Per­spec­tives: The Birth of a New Style

An en­zyme long used to help make big, boozy, im­pe­rial stouts a lit­tle eas­ier on the palate has found a new pur­pose in an emerg­ing style of IPA. The Brut IPA is a dry—like 0° Plato—ver­sion of the style that was cre­ated just months ago and is now spread­ing

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents - By John Holl

The Brut IPA is a very dry ver­sion of the style that was cre­ated just months ago and is now spread­ing like wild­fire.


has been used in brew­ing for a while now. It has the abil­ity to break down com­plex su­gars that might not oth­er­wise fer­ment, al­low­ing the yeast a bonus meal dur­ing fermentation. As such, it has been pop­u­lar with big, boozy im­pe­rial stouts so that they aren’t su­per­sweet on the palate.

In San Fran­cisco, at So­cial Kitchen & Brew­ery, Kim Stur­da­vant, the brew­mas­ter, had been us­ing amyloglucosidase on his triple IPA to help tamp down the su­gars found in that beer. “I’ve been us­ing it for two or three years but had it in the back of my mind to use it on a tra­di­tional IPA, to make it bone dry, a recipe with no resid­ual su­gar.”

When his brew­house sched­ule al­lowed last Novem­ber, he gave it a go. He brewed a tra­di­tional IPA and added the amyloglucosidase af­ter the first round of fermentation. The re­sult was a 0° Plato, bone-dry, su­per­aro­matic, slightly hazy but still bright, IPA. “I took a growler home and re­al­ized that I fin­ished the whole thing. It’s just un­like any­thing else I’ve had,” he says. At first, he con­sid­ered calling it Cham­pagne IPA (the folks in that re­gion of France would likely have some­thing to say about it) but, af­ter con­sult­ing with a wine-minded friend, set­tled on Ex­tra Brut IPA, even­tu­ally short­ened to Brut IPA.

Within days, the city’s beer scene was buzzing about this new kind of IPA, and brew­ers near and far were adding it to their line­ups. Drake’s Brew­ing Com­pany (San Le­an­dro, Cal­i­for­nia) has been blog­ging about their ex­pe­ri­ence brew­ing the style, and from Colorado to Penn­syl­va­nia, brew­ers are try­ing their hand, fig­ur­ing out the best way to make this IPA.

Since the style is still in its in­fancy, there’s a lot of crawl­ing go­ing on be­fore it breaks into a full run, and brew­ers say they are ex­per­i­ment­ing with when to use the en­zyme, the types of hops to use, and a di­verse grain bill.

“We’re us­ing a lot of ad­juncts in the grist, a lot of wheat and rice, be­cause they are fer­mentable with no su­gar,” says Josh Grenz of Ver­boten Brew­ing & Bar­rel Pro­ject in Love­land, Colorado. “All the hops come af­ter the boil, and what we’re get­ting is very aro­matic with­out the bit­ter­ness.”

Us­ing the en­zyme, he says, adds about two days of fermentation be­cause when it’s added, the yeast ramps back up. Oth­er­wise it’s a pretty nor­mal IPA sched­ule.

Cred­ited as the cre­ator of the style, Stur­da­vant says he feels a re­spon­si­bil­ity and “pres­sure” to make the best Brut IPA out there, so that means ex­per­i­ment­ing from batch to batch. In June, he brewed a recipe that had 20 per­cent rice, 20 per­cent corn, and the rest Pil­sner malt. “From the flaked rice, we got a co­conut fla­vor, from the corn, added creami­ness,” he says. “We’re not do­ing it be­cause it’s cheaper—it’s not. We’re do­ing it for the light color. I like these beers to be lighter than a Pil­sner—not [color­less], but cer­tainly very light.”

His style al­lows for some haze but noth­ing com­pa­ra­ble to a New Eng­land–style ver­sion. Adding hops af­ter the boil gives all of the aroma with lit­tle to no bit­ter­ness, some­thing many drinkers are cur­rently ac­cus­tomed to. Stur­da­vant has found that the style is also best for IPA recipes that are no higher than 7.5 per­cent ABV.

At first, he was adding the en­zyme late in the fermentation process but re­cently has be­gun adding it dur­ing the mash. It still breaks down the ex­tra su­gars but doesn’t leave the fin­ished beer at com­plete 0° Plato. Still, he has his rea­sons.

“With ev­ery batch of beer, we re-har­vest yeast, and so if you use the en­zyme, it’ll will carry over when you re-pitch, and that’s not some­thing we want nec­es­sar­ily.”

Re­gard­less, us­ing amyloglucosidase isn’t some­thing to be taken lightly. Stur­da­vant

Whether Brut IPAS will be­come as widely sought-af­ter as the New Eng­land style re­mains to be seen. What we do know is that right now, there’s gen­uine ex­cite­ment on the part of brew­ers, and that leads to only good things for drinkers.

and oth­ers warn that know­ing yeast and un­der­stand­ing yeast nutri­tion is para­mount.

“It cre­ates dif­fer­ent prob­lems, so it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand yeast and yeast nutri­tion through­out the process,” he says.

Drake’s has al­ready ramped up the cre­ativ­ity, adding blood-or­ange juice to one batch for a mi­mosa ef­fect, and is think­ing ahead to pack­ag­ing.

“Many ques­tions re­main unan­swered be­fore we put this new beer style in a bot­tle,” the brew­ery says. “How much bit­ter­ness can such a light-bod­ied beer sup­port? What di­rec­tion should we go for hops fla­vor? How much does malt mat­ter in a beer that is so ag­gres­sively fer­mented down? What­ever we de­cide, as hop­heads, we’re stoked. The Brut IPA style lets the hops shine in a wholly unique way, and it’s an ex­cel­lent coun­ter­point to the juicy New Eng­land–style IPAS we’ve been mak­ing.”

It’s in­ter­est­ing to watch the be­gin­ning of what could be­come a rec­og­nized style. Drinkers who have tasted well-made batches are quick to rave about it, lead­ing to ad­di­tional ex­cite­ment. At the re­cent Craft Brew­ers Con­fer­ence in Nashville, Ten­nessee, brew­ing leg­end Pete Slos­berg, of Pete’s Brew­ing Com­pany, asked if I had tried any of Stur­da­vant’s Brut IPAS, not­ing that he had just fin­ished a con­ver­sa­tion with a Pol­ish brewer who was mak­ing them at his pub.

Whether Brut IPAS will be­come as widely sought-af­ter as the New Eng­land style re­mains to be seen. Or there’s the pos­si­bil­ity that it could be­come a niche found oc­ca­sion­ally like the Black IPA (or Cas­ca­dian Dark if you’re into calling it that). What we do know is that right now, there’s gen­uine ex­cite­ment on the part of brew­ers, and that leads to only good things for drinkers.

For now, most brew­ers agree that the more trop­i­cal New World hops are best rep­re­sented in the style, not only be­cause it’s what’s pop­u­lar but be­cause the aro­mas and fla­vors best com­ple­ment the bone-dry na­ture of the Brut IPA. Still, Stur­da­vant says he’ll con­tinue to ex­per­i­ment with each new batch.

“Call me in a year, and I might be all about the pine.”

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