The beer community’s long-lasting, unconditional love of IPAs has helped create a wide-ranging category that has seen a ton of experimentation and variation – think English, American, East Coast, West Coast, fruit IPAs, black, white and red IPAs, double IPAs and the now-ubiquitous hazy New England IPA.
The latest trend, though, is the brut IPA. This exceptionally dry spin on the style has been picking up steam on the West Coast after showing up on the menu of Social Kitchen & Brewery in San Francisco last year. And this weekend, the brut IPA will be pouring from a tap in Milwaukee.
Gathering Place Brewing (811 E. Vienna Ave.) offers its take on the style when Dry Debate Brut IPA is released on Saturday at noon. The beer joins Gathering Place’s family of IPAs that includes Friendly Debate Blonde IPA, Spirited Debate IPA and Heated Debate Double IPA.
“I had been hearing some rumblings about this style coming from the West Coast and (owner Joe Yeado) and I were discussing our anniversary beer for August,” said head brewer Corey Blodgett. “I thought nothing would be better to celebrate one year than a beer that has some similarities to Champagne. This first one is a bit different than our anniversary beer as our anniversary beer will be aged in sauvignon blanc barrels and dry hopped differently.”
Brut IPAs require the addition of an enzyme that breaks down complex starches and ultimately creates noticeable dryness and limited bitterness. Though that is completely counter to the juicy haze of New England IPAs, brut IPAs share a key characteristic IPA with them: little to no bitterness. That flavor trend is a significant departure from IPA styles of just a few years ago, when bitterness was a hallmark and massive IBUs (international bitterness units) were a test of beer drinking prowess.
“The actual process uses a specific enzyme to produce an almost completely fermentable wort, allowing the yeast to have a healthy dose of simple sugars,” said Blodgett. “Because the yeast can ferment almost all the sugars, the beer becomes semi to bone dry. The brut has little to almost no upfront bitterness and derives all of its perceived bitterness and hop aromas from late addition and dry hopping. The enzyme used in the process produces a very clear beer compared to the New England IPA.”
Blodgett believes that Dry Debate is the first example of a brut IPA in Milwaukee, but not in the state. Madison’s new Working Draft Beer debuted its take on the style, Future Tense Brut IPA, in the spring.
Dry Debate will be available on draft only at Gathering Place on Saturday. So, what can drinkers expect from the new brew’s flavor profile?
“Like Champagne, the brut IPA is dry with aromas typical for sparkling wine like white grape, peach and moderate peppery spice,” said Blodgett.