Lundy Dale, December 2018
During the holiday season we stop by our favourite liquor store on one (or more) occasions, walking right by the craft beer section to head over to the wines, proseccos and Champagnes.
We have been educated over the years that the sparkling wine family is the beverage of choice for the season with holiday parties, dinners and of course New Year’s Eve.
But…one of the latest beer trends that has been a hit might just be the perfect alternative and will get you right back in that craft beer aisle: the Brut IPA.
What is a Brut IPA?
We know that the use of the word “brut” on champagne or prosecco is a word to describe very dry or unsweetened wine varieties. In beer, IPAs in particular, it is being used to classify extremely dry beers with less residual sugars. They also have low bitterness, effervescent carbonation, a light body, and are hopped with varietals offering fruit-forward or wine-like notes and flavours.
What creates this “brut” dryness and breakdown of the sugars is the use of an enzyme known as amylase glucosidase. It’s an enzyme that has been used commercially in the past by macro breweries to remove carbohydrates in beer, making for a lighter product.
It was Kim Sturdavant, brewmaster at California’s Social Kitchen and Brewery in San Francisco, that played with this enzyme to create a standard-strength IPA that was extra dry, light in colour, low in bitterness, effervescent, yet hoppy, in late 2017. He originally named it a “hop Champagne” until some of his wine friends suggested the term “brut”. The idea caught on.
While Kim has created his own rules and guidelines for his Brut IPA creation, it seems that the only constant that exists with this style is the use of the enzyme and use adjuncts like rice and corn to keep the beer that light “Champagne” hue.
So, why a Brut IPA for Christmas and New Year’s Eve? Why not!
There seems to be such a variety to this new hybrid IPA right now that any of them would be well suited for one of the many holiday occasions, along with any part of a festive meal. It’s light in body, but has enough carbonation to cleanse the palate and balance the richness of creamy cheeses, shortbread and chocolates and, yes, even the turkey dinner.
Here are just a few from across the country to seek out; some have been bottled or canned and some are only available on draught at the brewery taproom.
It seems that BC has the mother lode of Brut IPAs, and with such a variety being released, it’s impossible to keep up and try them all. There is everything from a
“Pinot Noir Brut“, made by Fieldhouse, using Pinot Noir grape juice in the mix, to the “Family Reunion”, a collab by Riot Brewing and Blind Enthusiasm of Edmonton, where they use the addition of cranberries and everything in between.
STEAMWORKS BRUT IPA 6.6% ABV
This is the first one that appeared in the market and it hit all the notes of what you expect from Champagne: pale, super dry, effervescent, but with the use of the Northwest hops most commonly used in our favourite North American-style IPA.
It’s hazy and straw gold in colour, with aromas of tropical and stone fruit, with just a hint of hop bitterness that finishes dry as a bone.
PARALLEL 49 – 6TH ANNIVERSARY BRUT IPA 7.1% ABV
For their 6th anniversary the Parallel 49 folks created a Brut IPA that was bottled like Champagne in a 750 ml bottle. Their variation was the use of Hallertau Blanc, Saphir and Mosaic hops. They used Chardonnay white wine yeast, making the flavour profile more reminiscent of a sparkling white wine.
DANDY BREWING CO & BLOOD BROTHERS (ONTARIO) – Station to Station Brut IPA 5.5%
A hazy version of the style with citrus, pine and tropical hop notes, biscuit malt, very bubbly and a dry, low bitterness finish. Available in 650ml bottles.
SNAKE LAKE BREWING – Bubbly Brut IPA 6.6% 15 IBU
Double dry-hopped (Citra, Amarillo and Bru-1) with a very subtle aroma and flavour of pineapple and citrus. This one is medium-bodied, with a crackery pale malt background, light on bitterness and a dry finish. Only available on draught and best to head to the brewery!
BLINDMAN / TROUBLED MONK COLLAB – Burbank Series – Brut IPA 7.0%ABV 20 IBU
The two local breweries together created their version of a Brut IPA with the use of Mosaic, Motueka and Mandarina Bavaria hops giving this light-bodied ale a citrus and piney aroma and flavour with a dry yet slightly bitter finish. Available in 355ml 6 packs.
ONE GREAT CITY BREWING (Winnipeg) – Et Tu Brut IPA? 7.3% ABV 35 IBU
A highly carbonated, dry finishing IPA with citrus and melon notes. Best to try the brewery for this one.
BARN HAMMER BREWING (Winnipeg) Backstabbing Brutus 7.1%ABV 30 IBU
Created as part of their “Test Batches”, this one uses Rakua hops creating a blend of grapefruit, a hint of citrus and grass, reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc.
MERIT BREWING –One for Us Brut IPA 5.9%ABV
The first Brut IPA in the province. “One For Us” uses large amounts of Citra, Ella, Mandarina Bavaria, & Hallertau Mittlefruh for a full-on Sauvignon Blanc taste profile with a hint of the North American IPA citrus hops popping through.
The style was so popular that the brewery has recently come out with “Sail Away – Brut DRIPA” (7.7%ABV) that uses the addition of rice in their malt bill and freshly pressed Riesling and hopped with Citra, Amarillo, Mandarina Blanc and Huell Melon- quite the combination!
GREAT LAKES BREWERY – Brutalism IPA 7.5%ABV 20 IBU
Great Lakes Brewery is known for making top notch IPAs so of course they got into the Brut IPA trend using Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe hops for a more hop-forward version. Available in 473 ml tall cans.
MICROBRASSERIE CHARLEVOIX – Double Brut IPA 8.8% ABV 46 IBU
A slightly hazy double IPA that is surprisingly light-bodied and very effervescent with aromas and flavours of citrus, melon and stone fruit. Not stingy with the use of Mandarina Bavaria, Elixir and Ekuanot hops and additions of oats and rice in the malt mixture. Available in 500 ml bottles.
NORTH BREWING (Halifax) – Alloy Champagne IPA 6.0% ABV 23 IBU
Dry and errervescent with a crisp hop bitterness with the aroma of citrus and melon. The Alloy uses Champagne yeast, and is hopped with Citra cryo hop and Ariana hops. It sounds like there will be more Champagne IPAs in this brewery’s future!
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
COPPER BOTTOM BREWING (Montague, PEI) -Birthday Beer Brut IPA 7.5%ABV 30 IBU
The only Brut IPA I have read about that does not use adjuncts in their malt bill in with their pilsner malt. On draught and very limited can run.
As you can see from all these examples, there are many interpretations of this style and so many options! So next time you are heading to the Champagne section at your liquor store, do a backtrack, head back to the craft beer area and pick up one (or three) of these Brut IPAs to try out. Happy Holidays!