Happy New Year, Beer Nerds! I’ll be willing to bet you rang in the new year with at least a wee nip of some bubbly. Why wouldn’t you? Not only is it tradition, that’s some delicious stuff to drink — bubbles, alcohol… how can you go wrong? Champagne (or sparking wine, if it doesn’t have the pedigree to actually be called “champagne”) is incredibly popular as a celebratory drink, a special occasion beverage. So, you won’t be surprised to find out that one of the latest trends in brewing is is to make a champagne-like beer. Enter the “Brut IPA.”
First, let’s talk about what makes an IPA an IPA, then we’ll go over the description of a Brut IPA so it will make a little more sense.
IPA is short for “India Pale Ale.” The story goes that this style originated when necessity arose for a beer with a long enough shelf life to survive the trip from England to India aboard a sailing ship. The way this was accomplished was to create a more alcoholic version of the Bitter that was common and popular, but with even more hops. The higher alcohol and the extra hops both served as preservatives, with the added bonus of creating a delicious combination and flavor that has kept me enthralled since my first taste many years ago. You had me at extra hops…
In constructing, recreating and reinventing the IPA, brewers have made attempts to balance out the beer in favor of hops — but with enough sweet, malty goodness to keep it from being just a mouth-puckering, bitter hop cordial. In other words, hops are in the forefront, singing their hearts out, but there are some hefty back-up singers in the form of lots of base malt — as well as some even more sugary crystal/caramel malts to back up that bitter tune.
“Brut” is a description used for sparkling wine that is unsweetened, or very dry as they say in those circles. You can probably put two and two together now: a Brut IPA is an IPA crafted to be less sweet, still hoppy, but not so much as to blow you away. I won’t bore you with the technique and science of how brewers do this… but they do this.
Wanna try some champagne-inspired beer, get your hands on a quality Brut IPA? Of course you do! Here are a couple to look out for:
Yeah, I know, I’m a little late on this recommendation. But trust me, this stuff should still be available for the first couple of weeks of January, and maybe at a little discount. Plus, that date isn’t an expiration date. You’ll be fine. Remember, these beers were developed to have a longer shelf life, anyway.
I’m a fan of Hi-Wire, I won’t deny it. To me, this is the best version of the Brut IPA and is one of my favorite things to drink right now, regardless of holiday. It’s a very limited-edition brew, however, that was released back in November. You might have a little bit of trouble finding it, but believe me when I say that it’s well worth the work!
Go getchoo some!
Let me know what you think, and make some recommendations yourself. And let’s have a beer this year.