In 2018 the Brut IPA trend kicked off and quickly went from California’s Bay Area fad to a full blown industry-wide trend. Since nearly the beginning, the emerging Brut IPA style has defied predictions that it would never catch on or was already dying out. But, the Brut IPA is still a developing style with new variations and evolutions. Recently, the Brewers Association updated the 2019 competition beer style guide for this year’s Great American Beer Festival and surprisingly dropped a new catch-all category that seems created for the Brut IPA called Emerging IPA.
Emerging IPA is category 63 in this year’s competition beer style guidelines. It’s worth noting that the competition styles are actually different than the Brewers Association’s generic style guidelines. While category 63 is clearly meant to grab beers like fruited Hazy IPA and White IPA, the Brut IPA is called out and referenced in the style guide which calls for:
“White, Red, Brown, Black, Brut or many other IPA types or combinations thereof currently in production, and fruited or spiced versions of these; or 2. fruited or spiced versions of classic American, Juicy Hazy, and Imperial IPA categories.”
“attributes typical of wine, champagne or Brettanomyces yeast strains may be present”
It took the Brewers Association competition committee years to add the Hazy/Juicy New England-style IPA category, and after much demand and delay it became the most entered style at the GABF in its first year. This year, the organizers are not as slow to stay on trend and have smartly created a showcase for trends that may or may not stand the test of time.
The Emerging IPA category will likely encourage brewers to brew more Brut IPA, and if enough are entered we may see its own designated style category in the future. Before now it has been easy to dismiss the Brut IPA as a beer trend created by brewers for brewers, but it’s hard to believe such industry behemoths as Sierra Nevada Brewing and New Belgium would be releasing ones in six-packs without some sort of following.
Take for instance Ninkasi Brewing’s new summer seasonal Dry Skies Brut IPA. I sampled my first Oregon brewed Brut IPA last summer and a year later it seems like an emerging IPA style primed for the summer, merging the crispness of lagers with the hop flavors of juicy IPA.
All of that being said, I have to agree with Jeff Alworth who suggested Brut IPA was still primarily a style being pushed by brewers and a demand has not yet been fully established.
“Brewers invented it, launched it, and brut IPA has been in a “push” phase for about 18 months waiting to see if there will be any pull.”
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.