Like a mouse trying to out-squeak a hamster with a megaphone, the Brut IPA has had trouble fully making a name for itself under the New England IPA’s tutelage. This comes as no surprise.
By design, Bruts are built sugarless, subtle and dry — not exactly qualities the masses clamor for in a beer. Rather, Brut IPA feels engineered for a cult following. They pair well with food, they don’t wreck your palate, and they showcase an unpronounceable enzyme (amyloglucosidase).
Consider it more of a pivot than an evolution on the IPA timeline, a course correction that opts for balance in place of excess. And yet, since Brut’s inception at Social Kitchen and Brewery in San Francisco, the beer community has taken every measure to laud Brut IPAs as “the next big thing.” Even the haze masters at Old Nation, famous for their turbid M-43, have canned a Brut to demonstrate their talent at an opposite extreme. Time will tell whether the average consumer embraces the champagney style with equal fervor.
While the haze craze continues to last longer than any crystal ball could’ve predicted, some already wonder if Brut’s 15 minutes of fame have expired. Are Brut IPAs destined for the doom of the dodo, remembered as just another goofy blip in beer history? Well, it seems to depend on which Brut you try. Revue gathered a panel of tasters to test the style’s staying power.
Ska Brewing Co.,
Rough hang that the one Colorado beer took top honors, but this was adored across the board. Pours a goldenrod, shimmers like a doubloon, and flaunts a hop-rub aroma that’s worth a thousand sniffs. The flavor oscillates between tropical fruits while the signature dry finish kept us drinkers returning to glass. A benchmark for this fledgling style.
Brew Detroit, Detroit
This stood out as the most “brut-ish.” Finishes super dry and that dryness lingers as it should. Whiffs of tangerine and grapefruit are mellow but lovely. Oddly, a haze disguises this as a New England, but thanks to a quadruple dry hop, this boy’s mega bitter, not juicy. If it came caged and corked, I’d pop these in lieu of bubbles on NYE.
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Soft and spritzy, a low ABV suits this crushable Brut. After deliberation, papaya is the flavor we agreed on. Sort of tastes like meeting a New England in the middle (hence the “juicy”). It’s clean, minimally bitter, maybe not the most memorable, but I could see myself erasing a cooler full of these in the summer. A welcome addition to Short’s flagships.
Good & Proper
Arbor Brewing Company, Ypsilanti
Looks-wise, this is eye-popping — yellow as a stop light. Dry, but not to the bone. Citrusy, but not to the point of puckering. The subtlety created a rift among tasters. Some found its restraint enchanting and crushable, others knocked it as the LaCroix of Brut.
Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
The only thing better than one Brut is two. This double has sticky lacing that clings. Quite dry, effervescent too, but something about the malt bill has this tasting more like a traditional IPA. That said, the alcohol is concealed nicely. One voter docked points, citing a petrol aroma. Suddenly, that’s all the group could smell, but the taste doesn’t follow suit.
Pigeon Hill Brewing Co., Muskegon
Crystalline as can be. It smells like honeydew and tastes like melon too. I could see it pairing well with a soft brie. Unfortunately, a couple panelists felt this beer offered diminishing returns. Pleasing for a few sips, then poof! — an old flower flavor appears.
Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
Revolution Brewing Co.,
Brut Extra Dry
Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville, Calif.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, Calif.