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Brut Force: The Champagne of Beers


Last Updated: 01/05/2022 11:53 am
Newburgh Brewing Company's BrutBoss
  • Newburgh Brewing Company's BrutBoss

When it comes to craft beer crazes, thick, hazy New England-style IPAs still reign supreme on the East Coast. But for those who need a break from that heavier, hoppier brew, a relatively new style of craft beer has made its way eastward from San Francisco to the Hudson Valley: the extra-dry brut IPA.

This crisp, bone-dry brew features effervescent notes of fruit. Each sip combines the sweetness, dryness, and mouthfeel of an extra-dry Champagne, but with the signature hoppy aroma of a traditional IPA. While IPAs have endured as a style on the national craft beverage scene, this Brut trend may be fleeting, so get it while it lasts.

Champagne Taste, Beer Pocket Book

The brew was first crafted in late 2017 by San Francisco brewmaster Kim Sturdavant, who set out with the goal of making a beer that was Champagne-like in taste and texture. He added the amyloglucosidase enzyme, which breaks down sugars and is typically used to cut syrupy thickness in high-alcohol beers like imperial stouts to a lower-alcohol IPA. The result was an intensely dry beer that was pale-hued, fruity, and super refreshing, like bubbly.

“Brut is a novel alternative for those who like hops, but don't like the yeast murk of hazy IPAs,” says Tom Crowell, founder and owner of Chatham Brewing in Columbia County. The brewpub offers its own highly carbonated Ta Brut IPA that Crowell describes as “moderately aromatic, with notes of tropical fruit and some alcohol taste.”

Brut IPAs are a fitting complement to pub food, since they’re generally low-carb in nature and their dryness cuts through hearty dishes. Crowell suggests pairing the beer with a savory spread, such as the macaroni and cheese with shrimp dish offered in Chatham’s tasting room. “The saltiness of the panko topping and the subtle brine from the shrimp complement the dry fruitiness of the hops, and the high carbonation cuts through the rich creaminess of melted cheese,” he says.  

The brut style’s summery, citrus notes also pair well with seafood. Newburgh Brewing’s Paul Halayko suggests oysters with their BrutBoss IPA, a recent addition to the brewery’s ongoing Boss Collaboration Series. “BrutBoss was our collaboration with the Magnanini Farm Winery,” says Halayko. “BrutBoss uses their Niagara Grape Must during the brew. It’s then fermented with Champagne yeast to create a dry finish, and generously dry-hopped with Galaxy and Lemon Drop hops, which create notes of citrus and passion fruit.”

Though relevant right now, the brut style’s cameo may be short-lived. In the ever-evolving world of craft beer, there are always creative ingredients to explore, endless techniques to experiment, and cutting-edge styles to develop.

Industrial Arts Brewing's Cut Once - PHOTO BY SUSAN STAVA
  • Photo by Susan Stava
  • Industrial Arts Brewing's Cut Once

“The factors that make a Brut IPA so unique appeal to a smaller set of drinkers,” Halayko says. “It’s a great new entry into the IPA category, but seems unlikely to have long-term staying power.”

Still, brut IPAs are a refreshing warm-weather brew, to be sipped at summer gatherings or for pints on the porch. Sofia Barbaresco, general manager at Industrial Arts Brewing in Garnerville, says that the bubbly nature, dry finish, and lemony notes of their most recent brut release, Cut Once, would pair best with seafood—and sunshine. “It's a beer style that puts people in a good mood and generally has an air of celebration, given its Champagne-like characteristics. You get bright, expressive hop character without the weight,” she says. “It's an exciting time to be making IPAs with all the new hop varieties, yeast strains and brewing techniques being explored.”

Where to Find Brut-Style IPAs in the Hudson Valley

Location Details Chatham Brewing

Location Details Industrial Arts Brewing Company
55 W. Railroad Avenue
Garnerville, NY
Location Details Ommegang Brewery

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