News & Articles
Browse all content by date.
Anyone recall the dry beer craze that began in the late 1980s?
It started in Japan in 1987 with the release of Asahi Super Dry. Soon other Japanese beer companies – Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory – had their own versions of dry beers, and by 1989 we had Michelob Dry, Bud Dry and Pabst Blue Ribbon Dry, to name a few that were released here.
Most of those dry beers used either more hops than a traditional lager or yeast that converted more of the carbohydrates to sugar, thereby producing a slightly higher alcohol content with a lighter tasting, and some said more refreshing, beer. At the same time, dry beers tasted less sweet than typical lagers. They also required longer fermentation.
I was reminded of dry beers when Sam Northrop brought something new to an IPA tasting at the clearing, Sierra Nevada’s new spring seasonal, Brut IPA, or what they describe as an “extra dry IPA.”
It’s a delicious golden-colored beer with lots of carbonation and a lovely white head. The label describes is as “a new take on IPA brewed for a bone dry champagne-style finish.” This 6.2 percent IPA almost looks like a lager, but with the slightest of haze. The taste is as refreshing as a lager with a gentle hop brightness at its core. Brewers making Brut IPAs are using an enzyme called amyloglucosidase, which had typically been used for imperial stouts. Much like the specialty yeasts used to make dry lagers, amyloglucosidase consumes residual sugars.
Kim Sturdavant, brewmaster at Social Kitchen & Brewery in San Francisco, is credited with being the first brewer to use this enzyme on an IPA. He was going to name it Champagne IPA, but settled instead on Extra Brut IPA, and then shortened it to Brut IPA.
So it’s kind of surprising to see the same name on Sierra Nevada’s version, but that’s for others to worry about. I predict Brut IPAs will have a much longer life than the short-lived dry beers of the last century because the process creates a really refreshing hybrid beer from a style whose prominence had escaped me.