This past summer, a new beer style was on the lips of many brewers and beer drinkers, both literally and figuratively. Brut IPA got its start less than a year ago when San Francisco’s Social Kitchen & Brewery brewmaster Kim Sturdavant chanced upon a way to break down the sugars in his triple IPA using amnyloglucosidase and make it less syrupy sweet. The result was a much drier brew and he liked it so much, he tried it on his traditional IPA which turned out to be a light, very dry, low-IBU IPA with a touch of effervescence he named “Brut IPA” (he was toying with “Champagne IPA”) and voila, a new beer style was born.
Since then, brewers all over the country have embraced this aromatic style, basically a sparkling, dry, hoppy beer, including at Liars Bench in Portsmouth, the first brewery outside of California to brew a Brut IPA called I Am Brut back in March. After that, they partnered with Black Hog Brewing Co. in Connecticut on The Fruit Brut IPA. Now, Chapel + Main in Dover is brewing one as well, and on Sept. 22, Throwback Brewery in North Hampton will debut its version of the style Enjoy the Sun at the SELT TrailFest at Burley Farms in Epping.
At Throwback, lead brewer Christopher Naro along with co-founders Nicole Carrier and Annette Lee jumped on trying this new style and their Enjoy the Sun is a collaboration with ReVision Energy, their solar company. The beer will be available on tap and in cans at the brewery and 10 percent of the proceeds will go to Southeast Land Trust of NH (SELT).
True to the style, Enjoy The Sun is a dry, aromatic and effervescent Brut IPA with a 4.8 percent ABV and close to 0 IBU.
“It’s bright and clean,” Naro said. “I’d been reading about it on the beer blogs and online, and then we found out Dave (Yarrington) at Chapel + Main was making one, too, and so did Dane (Nielsen) at Liar’s Bench. We thought this would be good for us, too.”
“We tend to have fully attenuated beers and they’re dry,” Carrier said. “The Brut IPA fits our style. When we were talking with ReVision about co-branding a beer with us, we thought it should be lemony and ‘sunny,’ and this style does that.”
In brewing, attenuation measures sugar conversion into alcohol and carbon dioxide through fermentation. A more attenuated beer is drier. For this Brut IPA, an enzyme called amnyloglucosidase breaks down sugars from malts so the yeast can process it more easily, resulting in less sugar and less sweetness from malt. In this new style, there’s also a bit of effervescence and the bitterness levels are lower. In a climate where beer connoisseurs are moving away from hit-you-over-the-head bitterness but still want to enjoy the flavor of hops, this style resonates.
For Enjoy the Sun, Naro added the enzyme just before the boil to ensure that all the sugars are fermented.
“We also use only aromatic hops, and no bittering hops,” Naro said. “Any bitterness comes from some of the dry hopping. There’s almost no IBUs — we’d be surprised if it’s even 2 IBUs.”
International Bitterness Units (IBUs) is a scale used to measure bitterness in beer by assessing the parts per million of isohumulone found in the beer.
Carrier added, “We’re in a good area for people looking for fewer IBUs. It’s also a little hazy due to a new style of hopping. We use three different styles of dry hops and the fermenting process makes it a bit hazy.”
Tasting it just out of the fermenter, Nicole says it’s aromatic and fruity and less harsh than a New England IPA.
“It’s quite aromatic,” Naro said. “I get resin and pineapple and lemon notes on the nose and the flavor is light and mellow.”
Dave Yarrington, lead brewer at Chapel + Main, has also just finished brewing his version of the style.
“I first heard of Brut IPA from Dane at Liar’s Bench. His SF (San Francisco) roots clued him into the style. I’ve only tried a couple so figuring out what we wanted to brew was mostly based on internet research as to what others are brewing, ” Yarrington said. “The appeal is similar to a Session IPA in terms of light and easy to drink. So we kegged off the first try, but it turned out to be too dark in color and not have enough hop character for what we were hoping to accomplish. We still poured it, but as a Golden Ale, for which it’s well suited.
“The next attempt will be Pilsner malt with about 15 percent flaked rice,” he said. “The hope is to have an almost champagne like color. We’ll also bring up the hop rates to somewhere in the 25 to 30 IBU range.”
— Rachel Forrest is a former restaurant owner who lives in Austin, Texas. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.