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The Enzymatic Brut IPA

Patrick Grass

When a new delivery from The Original Craft Beer Club comes to your door, or while looking at the tap handles at a local pub, what comes to mind? Maybe the anticipation of the delicious flavors of malt, hops, or yeast? Maybe you think of the satisfying taste that arises from all three. Most likely you're not thinking about enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts that bring about specific biochemical reactions and are essential to the breakdown of barley starches during the making of beer. These enzymatic reactions start during barley malting and continue in mashing and are critical to making any and every beer. Enzymes create the sugary fermentable wort environment that is needed for yeast to make alcohol and carbon dioxide, making beer truly beer. The barley kernel contains natural brewing enzymes, and during malting and mashing, they activate to break down complex sugars and starches. Alpha-Amylase and Beta-Amylase are just two examples of barley enzymes. Traditionally brewers have relied on these barley enzymes as the workhorses for creating fermentable wort. Now some craft brewers are adding an extraneous enzymatic ingredient, making something new – the Brut IPA.

Beer glass from belowStarting in San Francisco in late 2017, the Brut IPA is now spreading to craft breweries and craft beer clubs across the country. Brewers are making this completely fermentable dry beer, by using a commercial enzyme that is not found or made in the barley kernel. Obtained from a fungus variety called Aspergillus niger, the enzyme Amyloglucosidase has been used commercially in the production of glucose syrups. This enzyme is not new to the beer industry and has been used in Imperial Stouts, giving them an easy drinkability. What's new is Amyloglucosidase being used to make the Brut IPA.

What makes this enzyme different is its ability to break down, or hydrolyze, the unfermentable complex sugars, like dextrin. This then leaves easily digestible simple sugars like glucose to be readily eaten up by the ale yeast during fermentation, creating a delightfully dry beer. This dry forward profile becomes a great vessel for hop flavors and aromas. The Brut IPA is hopped late in the boil, leaving out the bitter hops, only imparting the aroma and flavor. This beer is pleasantly aromatic with minimal to no bitterness much like hoppy Champagne. Also, it is very light bodied to display all the hop character, and light in color - using pilsner as the primary malt.

Related: What are the four main ingredients in beer?

Brewers have not been using this enzyme to make dry IPAs for very long, so much experimentation is being done to explore the possibilities of this new beer. One area being examined is at what point to introduce Amyloglucosidase into the beer making process. Should the enzyme be added to the mash, to work with the natural enzymes, or directly into the fermentation to assist the yeast? Each technique creates a subtlety different finished product, and it is up to the many craft brewers out there to delight us with their new creations.

Beer MaltThe Brut IPA provides an excellent counterpoint to the ever so popular juicy IPAs, adding another innovative twist on the immensely prominent IPA beer style. As many popular craft brewers from California to Colorado, and all over the East Coast begin brewing their IPAs extra brut, you may see this true Champagne of beers arrive in an Original Craft Beer Club delivery. Open the bottle, pour into a glass, and enjoy the sparkly dry goodness; thanking enzymes for their role in another craft beer distinctive creation.

Brut IPA Food Pairings:

• A creamy Brie cheese, with some lightly salted crackers

• Fresh Oysters

• Sashimi and other fresh raw fish

"American Brut IPA" BeerAdvocate. 2018. The Beer Advocate. 14 March 2019.

"ENZYMES FOR EDUCATION: Amyloglucosidase" National Centre for Biotechnology Education. 2018. University of Reading. 13 March 2019.

Fabricant, Florence. "Meet Brut I.P.A." The New York Times. 21 Dec. 2018. FRONT BURNER. 14 March 2019.

Patrick Grass
Author Bio: Patrick Grass is currently a student at UC Davis, attending the Master Brewers Program. In his free time, he enjoys the restorative qualities of the wilderness and natural world.