Meet the New Brut IPAs

A year ago, brut IPAs were barely on anyone’s radar. Now they’re in the spotlight.

It’s dry, pale, bubbly and light bodied and is said to drink something like a Champagne. Yet it’s beer. A year ago, brut IPAs were barely on anyone’s radar. Now they’re in the spotlight.

The style was created in 2017 by Kim Sturdavant of Social Kitchen & Brewery in San Francisco. He decided to use a common brewing enzyme (called AMG for short) to produce a “bone dry” IPA. It received positive attention in the brewing press, and the idea caught on.

Chris Mattern of Eclipse Brewing in Merchantville made his first batch this winter. “The idea is to be as light in body as a brut Champagne,” he says.

IPAs, by far the best-selling type of craft beer, make an attractive platform for brewers to experiment with. The brut style is so new that it doesn’t have hard and fast rules. IPAs can be bitter. To make a brut IPA, brewers often choose types of hops that are less bitter. To create the desired effect, the brewer also may leave out ingredients that tend to create body and add things that lighten body.

Some brewers are adding champagne yeasts to their recipes. These voraciously consume sugars and raise the level of alcohol in the beer, usually to something in the range of 7 to 8 percent by volume.

“The fun in craft beer is going outside your comfort zone,” says Brian Kulbacki of Jersey City’s Departed Soles Brewing, known for its gluten-free beers. Kulbacki says his Dee Duh Lee Dee Brut IPA will not be his last.

Chuck Garrity of Death of a Fox Brewing in Gloucester County has produced two brut IPAs: a Black Brutus that looks dark as a stout and a Brut India Pale Lager with a light mouthfeel. He says he plans to create a less hoppy style, a brut pilsner, for Valentine’s Day. “I want,” he says, “to see how close we can get to Champagne.”

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