Brut IPA (I: Description, Grist, and Mash)

Not a brut IPA

Many brewers are excited about a new type of beer that originated last year (2017) in California — brut IPA. Brut IPA is a dry, fizzy beer with plenty of hop aromatics, but not as much bitterness as a typical American IPA. The first commercial example is attributed to Kim Sturdavant of San Francisco’s Social Kitchen and Brewery. The name “brut” is taken from the terminology used to rank sweetness in Champagne and other sparkling wines — brut is the driest category in that ranking (although it is sometimes subdivided into brut and extra brut).

Now, I’m sure some brewers are wondering if this beer is just a fad or if it is going to become an official beer style, and if so what will the style guidelines say about this beer? In addition, some will likely question if it should really be called an IPA given its comparatively low bitterness. I’m sure someone out in beer writing land would love to pontificate loudly on these questions, so I will leave that to them. Instead, I will address the much more practical question — how could a homebrewer brew a brut IPA at home? [Read more…]

Copper Ale


It looks like this, although this isn’t it.

This is the recipe for my copper ale. The name is simply a reference to the the color of the beer. I designed this beer to be an “everyday” beer that I would enjoy, and other people who have tried it have really liked it. I’ve brewed it eight or nine times now, and everytime I’ve mucked with the recipe a little bit. But, it’s always hovered around the same basic idea.

I started with a blank canvas, so to speak. I didn’t start with an existing beer style and tweak the beer from there. Instead, I just thought of one combination of ingredients that I believed would go well together and started brewing. The grain bill started with pale malt blended with Munich malt, for a solid, malty base. A little bit of aromatic malt and Victory malt round out the malt character. (In previous versions of this recipe, Victory malt was the only (non-color) specialty malt, but I like the addition of aromatic malt.) I didn’t add any crystal malt — mostly because I wanted the beer to finish fairly dry, but secondarily because so many homebrew recipes contain crystal malt that I wanted to try something different. The color is tweaked by adding a small amount of roasted malts, chocolate and black malt. These add color, but there isn’t any roast flavor in the beer to speak of.

The beer’s malt character is offset by bitterness from Northern Brewer hops. These hops lend a faint mint-like character to the beer. In my most recent versions of this recipe, I added some Fuggles finishing hops, for that nice, “earthy” Fuggles character. The American ale yeast strain ferments cleanly and really lets the malt and hop character take center stage. The beer finishes around FG 1.010, so it’s relatively dry, which I think highlights the malty/biscuit-like/”husk-y grain-y” malt character of the beer. (In my next version of this, I might try adding some wheat malt, for some bread-like notes. This is my only recipe that has gotten more complex over time. I may also split batch it and try some English or Belgian yeast strain.)

I started thinking about the beer without any reference to existing beer styles, so it’s not surprising that it doesn’t really mimic any classic beer style. It fits the numbers of an altbier (BJCP category 7A) fairly well, but doesn’t really taste like an alt. Overall, it’s just a great “everyday” beer — balanced and drinkable, but with enough flavor to be still be interesting.

[Read more…]