Do you think you've seen it all when it comes to IPAs? Have the nation's creative brewers finally run out of new ideas for new styles of beer? If you think that, you might have underestimated them.
Late last year, the head brewer at San Francisco's Social Brewing sparked a new trend when he created an IPA that uses a specific enzyme to lighten the beer and give it a bubbly, effervescent mouthfeel, like champagne, and a dry finish that comes from reducing the amount of sugar remaining in the finished product. The technique resulted in a beer that showcases hops flavors in a different way than standard IPAs. Social Brewing called the creation a "brut IPA," which quickly caught on in northern California.
That mini-trend washes into Colorado this weekend when three different Denver breweries — Fermaentra, Fiction and Platt Park — will coincidentally tap their own versions of a brut IPA.
"We had a chance to try Mikkeller's Nelson Sauvin Brut at GABF a couple years back and it kind of stuck in our minds as a really refreshing way to showcase hops," says Fermaentra co-owner Spencer O'Bryan. (Mikkeller doesn't call its beer an IPA, in case you're wondering.) "When we started hearing about San Francisco breweries experimenting with them early this year, we knew we needed to start to play around with the style. The timing of all three hitting the taps the same weekend is pretty awesome. It gives drinkers a chance to try out different takes on an experimental style."
"The use of 'brut' in the name of the style refers to the fact that we have left no sugar behind in the fermentation process," he continues. "But make no mistake, this beer is not bitter like a run-of-the-mill West Coast IPA. While we have designed it to contain no residual sugar, all of the hop additions are done in a manner to reduce bitterness, accentuate flavor, and the hop additions themselves add some perceived sweetness on their own."
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The 7.1 percent ABV beer, called Brut Li, taps on Saturday, and O'Bryan says Fermaentra plans to introduce numerous variations of it throughout the year.
The second brut IPA coming out this weekend will debut today at Fiction Beer Company. "Inspired by the novel Sideways, by Rex Picket, it is called I Will Not Drink Any F***ing Merlot, and was brewed "with a punch of hop flavor and aroma with low-perceived bitterness," Fiction says, including Hallertau Blanc, Rakau and Motueka hops. At 6 percent ABV, the beer is very dry and Champagne-like.
And finally, Platt Park Brewing will tap Dune Brut IPA today. An "aggressively hopped" dry IPA, the beer is pale in color, bone dry, and gives the impression of effervescence, Platt Park says. The brewery used Rakau and Hallertau Blanc hops after the boil to give the aroma of white grapes, figs and apricot.
Editor's note: Verboten Brewing in Loveland also tapped a Brut IPA recently. The brewery says, "We...hope to package it soon. We are brewing another version this coming week."