In August, I wrote about a new beer style, brut IPA, introducing the champagne-inspired India pale ale variant characterized by high effervescence and dry body. At the time there were a few local breweries dabbling in the style, including Boneyard Beer and Sunriver Brewing Company. Since then, others have released their own versions, and three in particular are available now.
First, a quick refresher. “Brut” IPA is inspired by the dry and effervescent qualities of brut champagne, in which brewers aim to create highly carbonated IPAs with as little residual sugar as possible.
To that end, the traditional method of mashing the malt to convert the starches to fermentable sugars isn’t usually sufficient, so brewers often add amylase enzyme to the beer to further break down the remaining starches for the yeast to consume.
The resulting beer is lighter bodied and quite dry, evocative of dry sparkling wine.
Crux Fermentation Project, however, eschewed the enzyme with its version of the style, Gated Community. Released in cans at the beginning of the year, this take on a brut simply employs an extended mashing process to reduce the residual sugars, according to brewer Cam O’Connor. In essence, the brewery steeped the grains with the natural starch-converting enzymes for longer than the traditional one to two hours typical of the process.
I wouldn’t have guessed that from drinking the beer; I found it to be one of the driest versions that I’ve yet sampled. It pours crystal clear and a bright golden yellow in color, with an earthy hop aroma that includes elements of citrus pith and Juicy Fruit gum.
The body is dry with a minimal malt character, to be expected in such a style. The hops tend toward herbal black tea with a mild forest floor bitterness. It’s crisp and effervescent and finishes with a refreshing snap of earthy hops.
Silver Moon Brewing Company also released a brut IPA in cans in its seasonal Lunar Series of beers, Killer Queen Brut IPA. This version does utilize amylase, and according to Operations Coordinator Curtis Endicott, “We found the usage of the amylase enzyme could be added at different stages of the brewing process, each with a slightly different overall effect to the finished beer.”
Ultimately, the brewers decided to use the enzyme at those different stages of the brewing process to fit their needs.
Killer Queen is a darker shade of gold in color and is fruity and bright in the aroma with tropical notes (papaya) and a catty character (tomato plant). The hops are fragrant and floral and are reminiscent of fresh fruit salad.
The hops dominate the flavor as well, with some tobacco bitterness underlying the impression of dried herbs and tannic fruit skins. The malts are clean to the point of nondescript, and overall I thought it was pleasant and a bit champagne-like, with a dry and lingering mouthfeel and a lively bubbly finish.
Finally, Wild Ride Brewing Company of Redmond released Wild & Naked Brut IPA at the end of November, which was a collaboration with Naked Winery (based in Hood River with a tasting room here in Bend). “Working with a winery inspired us to research and develop a plan to create one of these up and coming IPAs,” wrote Head Brewer Paul Bergeman via email. “We ended up using enzymes to dry the beer out. We had some of the Naked Winery crew in to taste through our beers and help us with the direction we wanted to take this version of the Brut IPA.”
Wild & Naked is bronze in color and pungently fruity, with apricot and pineapple and a dank earthy note in the aroma, which I found to be reminiscent of white wine. In the flavor my first impression was a grainy, cracker malt followed by fruited herb tea and a grassy hop bitterness. There’s a lingering dry finish with a persistent light aftertaste of herbal hops.
“Ultimately, we wanted to create a beer that bridged the gap between beer and wine lovers,” Bergeman said.
All three of these brut IPAs are currently available if you haven’t yet had a chance to try this still-relatively new style.
— Jon Abernathy is a Bend beer blogger and brew aficionado. His column appears in GO! every other week.