Our newest seasonal release Dry & Mighty Brut IPA, is one of a new substyle of IPA that is spreading like wildfire throughout the USA and beyond. Dry & Mighty Brut IPA exhibits an assertive yet refined hop aroma and flavor while maintaining a low hop bitterness that is a big part of the current popularity of Hazy IPAs.

So What Is “BRUT IPA”, anyway?

As you may have noticed there are a ton of IPA’s in today’s craft beer market. The name is widely recognized by even the most novice craft consumers. What may not be evident is how many variations on the IPA theme actually exist. The style seems to keep splitting and introducing new versions and subsets right before our eyes.

One of the newest entries has made a bigger splash than most: Brut IPA. This type of IPA (India Pale Ale, in case you weren’t already aware) is said to have been created by a San Francisco Bay area brewer just a bit over a year ago. Part of this emerging legend is that this brewer wanted to come up with a counterpoint to the now ubiquitous Hazy IPA, aka New England-style IPA, suddenly being produced by brewers around the globe (Yours Truly has seen “New England-style IPA” proudly marketed by brewers in England, Vietnam and even more unlikely in California and Colorado!). Presumably, Brut IPA was also an attempt to re-establish the west coast as the driver of all craft beer trends. From my seat it is still way too early to predict the spread and longevity of Brut IPA over the coming years. Nevertheless we at Two Roads are putting our hat in the ring with Dry & Mighty our seasonal Brut IPA currently available wherever Two Roads is sold.

The name Brut IPA derives its name from the traditional French practice of categorizing Champagne by the degree of residual sweetness they possess. In order of residual sweetness there are; “sec”, “demi-sec”, “brut” and “extra brut” versions of classic French Champagne. “Brut” is the most popular type worldwide. “Extra Brut” is more dry/less sweet than Brut (it’s only a matter of time that we have “Extra Brut IPA” and “Double Brut IPA”, etc.). I digress but I think you get the picture.

Brut IPA is hyper-fermented compared to other IPAs and craft beers in general. In order to achieve this very high level of dryness brewers of Brut IPA resort to adding enzymes to convert higher-order sugars, normally not fermentable by brewer’s yeast, into sugars that can be fully fermented and contribute to a much drier beer with a higher alcohol content. A normal beer wort is roughly 80% fermentable by brewer’s yeast. A beer wort that has been treated with enzyme (glucoamylase, in case you are wondering) can come close to 100% fermentability. In the recent past, a craft brewer adding additional enzyme to their wort would have been viewed as heresy but today it is somewhat of a badge of honor. Such is part and parcel of how rapidly and to what degree the craft beer world fashion can change.

If Brut IPA is to be a counterpoint to Hazy IPA, as well as live up to its Champagne terminology, it had better be on the clear side, if not brilliant. The style is still very much under development but the majority that this reporter has seen have been clear. One common trait that both “rivals” possess is a low to very low hop bitterness. Hazy or sometimes “Juicy” IPAs tend to have a high level of sweetness and body. You know, the “Juice” thing. Brut IPAs require a low hop bitterness because there is relatively little sweetness left in the beer for flavor balance. Because there is little residual sweetness an appreciable amount of hop bitterness would come across as overly harsh and bitter.

So now you know some of the back story on Brut IPA. Sensory-wise let’s recap. A Brut IPA should have a moderately intense hop aroma, generally of the fruity and herbal direction. Very low maltiness due to the extraordinarily high degree of fermentation. Brut IPAs should be extraordinarily dry and light body and a low-moderate bitterness that is noticeable due to the lack of residual sweetness. In essence, it should come across as the “Champagne of IPAs.”