Brut IPA – Westcoast’s Response to the NEIPA

Brut IPA

The New England India Pale Ale had skyrocketed to the top of the list amongst many brewers.  Fans of the standard hoppy, bitter IPA are flocking to the juicy NEIPA. Every Ying is in need of its Yang.  Spiderman needs the Green Goblin.  The Ninja Turtle needs the Shredder.  The NEIPA has soared to such popularity that it’s only natural their be a polar opposite.  Enter the Brut IPA.  Instead of juicy with touches of sweetness to balance the extreme hop bill, the Brut IPA focuses on being extra dry and is heavily hopped with aroma hops.  Bittering hops are almost nonexistent.

Kim Sturdavant, Brewmaster at Social Kitchen in San Francisco, is credited with developing the Brut IPA.  The Brut IPA is defined as light bodied and extremely dry. Sturdavant has noted that he personally uses up to 27% corn adjuncts in his brewing to achieve such a light body.  The Brut IPA also uses a secret weapon to reach such a light body, amylase enzymes.

Amylase is often used in heavier stouts and porters to create a lighter mouthfeel.  Sturdavant has the idea of using it on more widely drank style of beer like the IPA.  He used light grains and avoided any crystal or caramel grains.  He is quoted as saying, “Here is the gist of what’s going on in my Brut IPAs.  The idea is for the beer to be as pale in color, spritzy, light bodied, dryyyyy, hoppy, and as champagne-like as possible.”

The key in to creating this style is the amylase enzyme.  This breaks down all of the starches into complex sugars.  Amylase will allow the beer to reach an ultra low final gravity of around zero.  The lack of unfermentable sugars create the thin mouthfeel.  Without the amylase, yeast wouldn’t be able to break down any nonfermentable sugars.  These nonfermentable sugars are ultimately where the body of a beer comes from.

Sturdavant recommends that brewers keep the overall IBUs low.  He is quoted as saying, “Go really hard with the aroma additions.”  He also recommends staying away from hops that will lead to a grassy or earth flavor.  Instead, try parings with fruit or citrus hops.  Basically steer clear of traditional bittering hops such as Cascade Hops or Centennial.  Instead try hops like lemondrop, citra, and mosaic.  These will pair well with a low body beer versus the bittering hops.  As for yeast, Sturdavant uses a high attenuation yeast that is neutral.  California Ale yeast is a fair example of the yeast to be used.

The definition of Champagne-like truly describes the Brut IPA.  It should have a thin mouthfeel with high carbonation.  It should be strongly aromatic with a reserved flavor profile and lacking body.  Can the Brut IPA skyrocket to stardom like the the NEIPA?  I believe it quite possibly can.  Homebrewers and Pro-Brewers are abuzz about the style.  With it being a potential rival to the NEIPA, I could reasonably see it reaching the same level of popularity with IPA drinkers turned off by the NEIPA.  Furthermore, many NEIPA fanatics may embrace the Brut IPA with open arms.  Only time will tell.


Happy Brewing

Ryan Caldbeck


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