The masses continue to lust after the juiciest, cloudiest cans of hazy New England-style IPA they can get their mitts on. But just below the surface, there's a West Coast aftershock shaking the ground: the brut IPA.
First developed by Social Kitchen and Brewery in San Francisco, this new style uses a special enzyme in the fermentation process to create a hyper-dry, Champagne-like finish. Brut IPAs often employ late-kettle hopping schedules similar to those of their hazy counterparts, but come across with more bitterness and crystal clarity, with high carbonation and alcoholic zip pouring in direct opposition to the sweet, fruit-juice finish of the hazy.
A bright, 7.7 percent ABV beer so clear you can read a newspaper through it, Hi-Li is a tightly wound spring of flavor. Prickly carbonation sends hints of grape-forward hops wisping out of the glass, and the beer follows through on the tongue with a delicate hop flavor and light malt finish.
It's a pinkies-out version of its hazy counterparts whose lingering tannic hop oils and smoky alcohol invite you back. An increasing number of brut IPAs will surely be hitting taprooms and bottle shops in the near future, but beer explorers can set their barometers to this one. Recommended.