They may not have reached the popularity of hazy IPAs, but bone-dry Brut IPAs are the latest IPA evolution to sweep the industry. These things follow a predictable pattern: Small brewer hits on a new concept, others brewers follow, the style gains a following, and the craft giants release mass distributed versions. Rinse and repeat.
I’ll admit I rolled my eyes when New Belgium announced it would brew a Brut IPA as the first entry in the brewery’s Up Next Series. It’s not that these big craft copycats are doomed to suck, it’s just that they don’t feel very original and usually aren’t as good as the beers that started the whole trend in the first place. Of course, that didn’t stop me from picking up a six-pack out of curiosity.
New Belgium’s champagne-inspired IPA pours like a glass of bubbly that won’t bubble over. It’s a straw-yellow color with a clear body, fizzy white foam top, and tons of carbonation. Swap the pint glass for a champagne flute and you could convince someone it’s sparkling wine.
In making Brut IPA, New Belgium clearly understood what makes the style so appealing.”
The wine-like similarities don’t end with the appearance. Sweet and musty grape take charge of the aroma, which are backed up by a bit of lemon and hints of bright fruit. The beer finished with some much needed dryness in from the bready malt.
While some Brut IPAs swing too far on the dry and bitter scale, the aroma has me worried New Belgium’s take will be too sweet. Instead, I’m met by a beer that has struck an interesting balance. White grape, mango and peach are here—but without the hammer of sweetness I had expected—and are complimented by bitterness from the hops and drying pilsner malt. No one aspect—bright, sweet, bitter, dry—dominates the flavor, as they work together in the right proportions.
In making Brut IPA, New Belgium clearly understood what makes the style so appealing. It’s dry, but not too totally void of sweetness. It’s hoppy, but with the right balance of flavor and bitterness. Add in the bubbly effervescence and grocery store-sixer price tag, it turns out the only bad things about New Belgium’s Brut IPA were my preconceived notions.