How To Brew World Class Brut IPA

Pale, dry, fizzy, and hoppy, Brut IPA is a niche style of beer. If you’re searching for how to brew a beer with a champagne-like finish coupled with a burst of hop aroma and flavor… read on.

When brewing a Brut IPA, these are the key components to remember:

  • Use enzymes to achieve a dry finish
  • Get a nice amount of hop aroma and flavor (but not a ton of bitterness)
  • Keep the alcohol around 6% ABV and…
  • Make sure it’s really bubbly!

What is a Brut IPA?

The first Brut IPA came out of San Francisco back in 2017 and was brewed by Kim Steravant. As a style, it has remained largely undefined. Brut IPA is a sort of ultra dry version of an American IPA.

How To Brew Brut IPA

It’s almost too soon to say it, but Brut IPA is largely regarded now in much the same light as Black IPA. It was a big deal for a short amount of time.This could be viewed as a negative, but I choose to think of it as an opportunity to brew something uncommon.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a commercial example of a Brut IPA. They’re still out there and sometimes they’re slightly disguised as something else.

What Makes a Good Brut IPA?

As with so many styles, the amount of hop bitterness can overwhelm the beer. Particularly, because Brut IPA is so dry, too much bitterness is undesirable. These beers should be hoppy in aroma and flavor with just a kiss from the alpha acids.

While examples vary in how boozy they are, the best are found in a pretty narrow range of 6-6.5% ABV. Too much alcohol creates too much sweetness. Sweetness is the enemy of perceived dryness.

Dryness is key! There should be little or no residual sugars left in the beer when fermentation is complete. Sweetness, be gone!

Palate cleansing CO2 in the form of a cascade of bubbles is a must for a great Brut IPA. Brut anything by definition means it is very carbonated. We’re talking 3.0 – 4.0 volumes of CO2.

How to Brew Brut IPA

The focus when brewing a Brut IPA is achieving bone dryness and a perfect hop profile. In the following, we’ll make sure you understand exactly what you need to do.

Fermentables

Brut IPA should be pale and dry. Start with a pale base malt, add some rice, corn, or sugar and you’re done. It’s really that simple.

Mash Temp

There are several ways to get a dry finish in a beer. Starting in the mash, it makes sense to use a lower mash temp. Shoot for 143 – 146 F (61.6 – 63.8 C). Plan for a 90 minute mash for reasons we’ll cover next.

Hops! What Kind and When

As far as variety goes, it’s up to you. But remember, this is an IPA. Piney isn’t off the table but Brut IPA really lends itself to the “new” tropical flavor forward varieties.

Process is critical. Remember that too much bitterness is bad. This means most of the hops are going into the whirlpool and dry hop additions. A small boil addition is ok but keep it short or omit it entirely.

Yeast

Use a clean ale strain. Nearly anything that would work well in a West Coast IPA will be great.

Fermentis has an interesting product that they recently released known as DA-16. It’s a yeast strain packaged with AMG. As far as I could tell, it has yet to be released in the USA at this point.

Packaging and Carbonation

It’s worth noting that the amount of carbonation in a beer can play a big part in how sweet or dry the beer is perceived. That said, it behooves us to shoot for at least 3 – 4 volumes of CO2. If using a keg, you’ll need a few extra feet on your tap lines. Use a calculator and get your lines balanced.

Bottling? Make sure you select high quality bottles that can handle the pressure and…wear safety glasses when handling.

Enter Enzyme

Amyloglucosidase…

In non-techy terms, here’s how the enzyme acts. It breaks down complex sugars into simple stuff that the yeast can consume. The result is less residual sugar in the fermented beer. This means less sweetness which, in turn, can equate to more dryness.

If you’re like me, and want to really understand how and why enzymes do what they do, I recommend an internet search and a cup of coffee…or three.

Which Enzyme Should I Use?

There are several products available. The most commonly used is amyloglucosidase (AMG). It can be found from White Labs as “WLE4100 Ultra-Ferm” and from BSG as “Amylo™ 300”.

Here’s a fun fact: Amyloglucosidase and glucoamylase are the exact same thing, just have different names.

There are other enzymes available that can be used to lower the final gravity of your beer. One example is alpha-galactosidase, aka Beano. This has been used by brewers in the past to fix a stuck fermentation. If you’re inclined, feel free to experiment with it.

I think the best bet is to stick with AMG, simply because it is the most commonly used enzyme when making Brut IPA.

When to Add the Enzyme

A lot of folks have played with this factor. Some add it during the mash and others wait until fermentation. Here are some pros and cons.

An advantage to adding it during the mash is that you’ll be able to re-pitch your yeast after fermentation into another batch. If you’re a homebrewer, this isn’t always such a big deal.

One potential drawback here is you might not get as low of a final gravity if adding enzyme to the mash. This is because you’re not giving the enzyme as long to act on converting starches into simple sugar.

If adding AMG to the mash, mash for 30 minutes then add and stir the enzyme in. After adding it, wait 60 minutes and move to the boil. Don’t forget that you’re starting your mash at 143 – 146 F in order to avoid killing off the enzyme.

For what it’s worth, Kim Steravant, (the creator of Brut IPA) recommends adding enzymes to the mash and not to the fermentor. His reasons are diacetyl production and a perceived decrease in hop character. We’ll cover one of these below.

Adding enzymes during fermentation seems to be a sure way of getting to 0 degrees Plato. However, this method may negatively influence fermentation and hop characteristics.

Timing is everything. If AMG goes into the fermentor, it makes sense to add it at the beginning of fermentation. Here’s why.

If added after primary and yeast harvest, an unhealthy re-fermentation will most likely result in diacetyl production. I won’t go into all the reasons for this here.

So the key takeaway is to add AMG into the mash or with your yeast pitch. And if you add it with your yeast you probably don’t want to repitch the yeast.. Even if you add AMG at the beginning of fermentation, make sure you allow for complete fermentation by giving the yeast enough time to ferment and clean up.

Nerding Out Alert!

The diacetyl production that results from AMG being added to a beer post primary fermentation and the phenomenon known as “hop creep” are effectively the same thing. It is the presence of AMG in hops that is causing further (unhealthy) fermentation and therefore the production of diacetyl.

An alternative way of avoiding diacetyl production during fermentation is to add alpha acetolactate decarboxylase. This will inhibit the production of diacetyl by eliminating its precursor, alpha acetolactate.

El Segundo Brewing Company in the Los Angeles area is using both the above mentioned enzymes at yeast pitch when producing their Seco IPA. Seco is Spanish for “dry”.

A Word On Dryness

The influence of a beer’s final gravity on perceived sweetness or dryness is often exaggerated. It does matter but the degree to which it matters is still debatable. What’s this mean?

There are three main variables when it comes to how dry a beer is perceived. They are:

  • Final gravity or residual sugar
  • Amount of alcohol (ABV)
  • Carbonation (think of the difference between fizzy and flat soft drink)

When brewing a Brut IPA, we’re using all three to our advantage. A low final gravity ensures less unfermented sugar. Moderate alcohol helps things from getting too big and sweet! Finally, high carbonation helps to scrub and rinse our palates.

Phoenix Tears – Brut IPA Recipe

Overview

  • 72% efficiency
  • Batch Volume: 6.0 gal
  • Boil Time: 60 min
  • Original Gravity 1.049
  • Final Gravity 1.000
  • 14 IBUs (*estimated not actual)
  • 6.4% ABV

Mash

  • Temperature — 145 °F — 90 min
  • Amyloglucosidase — 1 ml — 30 minutes after mash in

Malts

  • 9 lb 8 oz (82.6%) — Briess Brewers Malt 2-Row
  • 2 lb (17.4%) — Briess Rice, Flaked

Hops

  • 0.17 oz — Nelson Sauvin — Boil — 15 min
  • 2.5 oz — Nelson Sauvin — Whirlpool— 15 min hopstand at 176 °F
  • 5 oz — Nelson Sauvin — Dry Hop — 2 days

Yeast

  • 1 pkg — Wyeast 1217 West Coast IPA
  • ½ tsp — Yeast Nutrient — Boil — 10 min

Fermentation and Packaging

  • Primary — 68 °F — 14 days
  • Carbonation: 3.5 volumes C02

Final Thoughts

When discussing beer styles and trends, reactions can be extreme. Brute IPA is no exception.

Because Brut IPA is such an undefined style, it makes sense to listen to advice from its creator, Kim Steravant, when brewing one. Follow these rules and you won’t go wrong: make it pale, make it dry, make it at most 7% ABV, and let the hops shine.

Finally, brewing a great version of a Brut IPA is probably going to stretch your brewing knowledge and skills. It may also baffle your friends, but that’s ok. Brew to taste!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I brew a Brut IPA without enzymes?

Maybe? Try the following: mashing low and for a long time (3 hours or maybe all night), adding lots of table sugar, and using a super aggressive yeast.

What are the best hops for a Brut IPA?

It’s your choice but anything that lends a lot of tropical and fruity flavors/aromas is a good choice. Mosaic, Galaxy, Citra…really any of the trendy hops work great.

How quickly do enzymes denature?

There is a possible misconception that the instant the mash gets too hot, all enzymes cease activity. This isn’t true. For an enzyme like amyloglucosidase (AMG) it takes 10 minutes above 185 F (85 C) to destroy it completely. Furthermore, there is hard science to support that even an hour at 140 F (60 C) is not enough to denature AMG.

Can I brew an extract version of a Brut IPA?

Yes, at least I don’t see why not. Try adding amyloglucosidase and a temperature rest at 140 F (60 C) for 30 minutes before bringing the wort to a boil. Or you can add it to your fermentor with your yeast pitch.

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