Lessons in Brewing Brut IPA

Written by Ryan Walker on February 12, 2019

The sound of a bone dry, effervescent, hop-forward beer is very appealing to me. As soon as I heard of this new style of IPA, I knew I had to try brewing it. Apart from THIS ARTICLE (which wasn’t published until after my first attempt at the style), there is not a whole lot of info out there on how to brew a Brut IPA properly. More and more info is coming to light as more brewers try their hand at the style.

I used the dry version of Glucoamylase packaged by FermFast. It has worked well for me in the past when added directly to the fermenter.

One of the biggest things that makes a Brut IPA so dry (terminal gravity around 1.000) is the addition of an enzyme called Glucoamylase (or Amyloglucosidase). This enzyme breaks down complex sugars created in the mash into more simple, easily fermented sugars. This enzyme is denatured at higher temperatures, so common practice is to add it either to the mash (around 143-146F) or directly to the fermentor right when you pitch your yeast (once the wort is chilled). For my first attempt at Brut IPA, I opted for the latter, mostly because it sounded easier. 

This method definitely worked quite effectively (that batch finished with a final gravity of .996… extremely dry), however, it felt like the hops were not shining as much as I would have liked. I dry hopped the beer quite heavily with about 8 ounces total in a 5 gallon batch, and they just seemed muted. Considering the massive dry hop, and the less-than-huge hop aroma of the beer, I was a little turned off by the style. A few weeks later, the article linked above was published. The creator of the style was interviewed for the article and gave his recommendations on how to go about brewing a Brut IPA. In the article, he recommends adding the enzyme to the mash. According to his experiences, the hop aromatics are much more pronounced when the enzyme is not present throughout fermentation. I had to try brewing a Brut IPA again.

We set up to brew another attempt at Brut IPA, and once the grain was doughed in and sitting around 144F, we added the enzyme and stirred it in to mix evenly into the mash. It was a busy day that day, so my attention was not solely on brewing, unfortunately. We let the mash sit around 144F for about 30-40 minutes before ramping up to 150F to denature the enzyme and finish up conversion. This is where things went wrong, I believe. I do not think I let the enzyme have enough time to finish it’s job. The rest of brew day finished up rather smoothly and the beers were fermenting happily the next day. We went about dry hopping and eventually kegged the beer when it was ready. When kegging, I took a final gravity of each carboy (half of the batch fermented with OYL-004 West Coast Ale and the other half with OYL-091 Hornindal Kveik from Omega Yeast Labs). The West Coast Ale yeast finished at 1.008 and the Hornindal at 1.010. I was a little disappointed, however, the beers are tasting and smelling great so it is not a total loss. I don’t think I can justifiably call this batch a Brut IPA, so considering the higher final gravity, I will just call it an Extra Pale Ale. Recipe is below for those interested.

Recipe for 10 Gallon Batch:

FERMENTABLES:
10 lb – German – Pilsner (50%)
7 lb – United Kingdom – Maris Otter Pale (35%)
1.5 lb – Flaked Rice (7.5%)
1 lb – Flaked Corn (5%)
0.5 lb – German – Acidulated Malt (2.5%)

HOPS:
1 oz – Hallertau Hersbrucker, AA: 3, First Wort
5 oz – Nelson, AA: 10.6, Whirlpool for 20 min
3 oz – Mosaic, AA: 11.3, Whirlpool for 20 min
4 oz – Nelson Sauvin Dry Hop for 4 days
2 oz – Vic Secret, Dry Hop for 4 days
5 oz – Nelson Sauvin Dry Hop for 2 days
2 oz – Galaxy Dry Hop for 2 days

The journey to brewing an awesome Brut IPA is still ongoing. For the next attempt, I will add a little more enzyme (looking back, I may have skimped on this a little) and let it rest in the mash for an entire hour, or maybe even longer just to be sure it does it’s thing. The article linked above is a great resource, but make sure you follow ALL of his directions, or you might just end up with a light-bodied IPA instead of a bone-dry Brut.

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