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Brut IPAPosted: 2018-08-15 By Marble Beers
Recently we’ve become quite taken with a new style of IPA, as part of our 2018 hop forward range. After some research and a few trials, we launched Guillotine Brut IPA during Manchester Beer Week. We were super happy with Guillotine; a beer we enjoyed brewing as much as we enjoyed the post package QA; and the pioneering techniques we used to create it, there is always room for improvement and as we are brewing our second standalone brand on Wednesday, Flying Triangle Brut IPA, we figure now is a great time to discuss this brand new style.
You may have seen a few people talking about Brut IPA over the last few weeks as though there are about 5 or 6 currently in circulation on bars in the UK, the beer style is attributed to starting on the West Coast of the USA in the last year.
So what is a Brut IPA?
A step away from the pillowy mouthfeel of the aromatic NEIPAs, and measured bitterness of full-bodied dank West Coast IPAs, Brut IPA are beautifully aromatic; bone dry with an effervescent carbonation; and a super crisp finish, while still pushing interesting hop flavours, creating an incredibly rewarding and drinkable beverage. Taking their name and flavour profile from sparkling wines: Brut wines have between 0% and 12% residual sugars, while a Dry wine can have up to 32%, and are the second driest after Extra Brut.
In this style of beer, we look to do pretty much the same thing and ferment out all the residual sugars we can, which is what leads to the crisp, lighter, effervescent beer. Drinkability is key to the style, delivering a beer that is super balanced between aroma, bitterness and body.
If we look at the finishing gravity (density) of beer styles this becomes pretty clear:
Water – 1.000
Saison – 1.002 – 1.005
British Bitter- 1.008 -1.012
Pilsner – 1.005 – 1.008
British IPA – 1.010 – 1.015
New England IPA – 1.010 – 1.025
Imperial Stout – 1.015 – 1.030
Brut IPA – 0.995 or lower.
Sugars create smoothness and mouthfeel as well as laying a foundation for all other flavours and aromatics to sit on. This is a double edged sword as you gain drinkability, you begin to lose the base body the big, complex hop aromatics modern IPAs are known for.
Brut IPAs are not massively different from other beers, the one exception being an additional enzyme used (more on that later). They still contain the base four ingredients that all beers share.
Malt – For Guillotine Brut IPA we took our knowledge of IPA bases, looked at what we wanted achieve, and built a base around it containing a combination of extra pale and pils malt, to keep the colour and maltyness low, with a touch of wheat and malted oats to help with proteins and to build body without additional sugars.
Yeast – Although we looked and trialled different yeasts for this, our house yeast performed very well. In terms of attenuation, it hits its numbers very well with general attenuation of about 85%. It also gave off the ester profile we wanted, and it works well with the hop combinations we have considered for Guillotine and other Brut IPAs going forward. Its an easy yeast for us to wrangle and we understand it very well.
Beyond minor changes we are extremely happy with how the yeast and grist worked, and that they have given us a solid backbone to work with.
Water – Water and water treatment is the most important key in designing a beer. The hardness and ions found in water will greatly dictate the profile of the beer. You only have to look to how beer has developed regionally around the world to see this – compare a Burton ale with a Dublin stout or Czech Pilsen. (While we haven’t really got the space here to go into full water treatment, for anyone interested I highly recommend the section on water in Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels, first published in 1996, and Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers by John J. Palmer and Colin Kaminski.)
With our Brut IPAs we use salts to help create the mouthfeel and body that we lose from having no sugars, thus allowing our Bruts to be very dry and drinkable, yet still hold an enigmatic hop profile.
Hops – Unlike the high IBU and incredibly balanced West Coast IPAs, Brut IPAs have no sugar to balance hops on. We’ve solved the problem of body by looking into the water profile, so we’re not ending up with a fizzy hopped water, but what about bitterness? How do we balance bitterness without sweetness an interesting question, and the solution was strangely simple, we don’t. We brew this like a New England IPA with high impact hops but no bitterness. A small aroma charge to give the lightest hint at bitterness and a foundation for later hops to stand on. With this in mind we added no bittering charge, a tiny aroma charge of very low alpha hops, and a huge dry hop charge, leading to great aroma with little bitterness.
Adjuncts – To create a Brut IPA an additional enzyme (glucoamylase) is used to hydrolyse any complex sugars yeast cannot break down itself, thus allowing for complete fermentation. Different breweries will uses different brands of this enzyme and you can add it at various stages. This type of enzyme is nothing new to brewing: diastatic enzymes are present in barley and it’s the basis of mashing. And the application of extracted enzymes isn’t new either (think low carb beers) it is simply the application of it that is allowing the progression of this style.
Extremely drinkable, like a crisp white wine, Guillotine, our 7.1% Brut IPA was first brewed for Manchester Beer Week’s Evolution of IPA event, and is bone dry with a density below that of water. With Huell Melon (DE) and Hallertau Blanc (DE) as dominant hops with a sprinkling of Nelson Sauvin (NZ) to bring them together, and to accentuate the blackcurrant, gooseberry, melon, and fresh herbal notes of New World wines. Moving forward we can’t wait experiment further with some of our favourite hop combinations, looking at influences from New England hop bills, to those that we use in our bitters, west coast beers, and beyond. Flying Triangle Brut IPA will be picking up where Guillotine left off, with a big hop aroma, crisp body, and sparkling drinkability.