Brut IPAs turn ultra-juicy milkshake IPAs on their frothy heads. The style originated in San Francisco as an answer to the East Coast’s now-ubiquitous New England-style IPA. What emerged is a spritzy brew that smells like a juice bomb and drinks like a Spindrift.
Breweries started producing brut IPAs in 2018, and, given its newness, the style takes many forms. There are slightly tweaked malt bills and varying hop choices, of course. Some brewers then take the trend literally, producing zero-Plato, bone-dry, and bubbly beers with no haze in sight. Others approach brut IPAs more playfully, going imperial, or, in one case below, adding actual orange juice.
Whether you’re weary of the haze craze or bullish about trying every new IPA, this sparkling style might just be a delicious addition to your next mixed 6-pack. We gathered an industry panel to taste several iterations and were highly impressed by the diversity and caliber of what we found. Here are nine of our favorite brut IPAs, ranked.
Pale yellow and unfiltered, “like lemon ginger tea,” as one taster noted, this brut IPA’s pine, lemon, and grapefruit aromas carry to the palate. “It’s like a neutered West Coast IPA,” another taster said. “It smells fruity and delicious, then finishes bitter and dry.” The light body and tonic-like finish on this beer made it a favorite.
This beer is “a light lager in a brut IPA’s body,” one taster said, noting its simultaneous mass appeal and crisp, buoyant finish. Indeed, our panel agreed this beer is a “technical achievement.” However, after blind tasting three different cans, each had a slightly different impression. Finally, one taster wished to pair the beer with sushi, saying “its acidity will cut through fatty salmon, and its dryness will go so well with sweet sushi rice.”
Cape May, N.J.
This playful take on the brut IPA is exactly what brut IPA typically isn’t: filled with juice. Cape May adds orange juice to its brut IPA, essentially making a Mimosa — and a tasty one at that. Our panel unanimously delighted in this tongue-in-cheek approach. Orange juice, lemon, and pineapple aromas and flavors dominate in this “Mimosa IPA,” as one taster coined it.
This beer pours bright yellow with a white head, and its aroma straddles herbal and tropical, bringing out the best of both worlds. It’s piney and citrusy, with a lemony zing. This brut IPA wasn’t as effervescent as others — “it’s more beer than brut,” one taster noted — but its light, crushable body made it a refreshing addition to the list.
This outlier fermented with black currant boasts a dazzling copper color, “like a commercial peach iced tea,” one taster noted. A take on a rosé wine, the aroma is tropical but elegant, with notes of berries, pineapple, and orange. On the palate, this beer is light-bodied and effervescent, bright and dry, finishing with grapefruit-like citrus pith. The bitter conclusion contrasts beautifully with its nectar aroma.
Despite being a “double” brut IPA, which, in a way, negates the style, this beer presents a perfect middle ground for those new to the style. It nails the Champagne-like clarity, shining with a golden-yellow hue, and offers a honey-like aroma with notes of candy and cheese. There is some residual sugar here, but at 8.5 percent ABV, our tasters forgave its hint of sweetness.
Crystal clear and neon yellow with a fluorescent white head, Week 104 is herbal, resinous, and tropical on the nose. The body is all spritz, refreshing and as all-day drinkable as a session IPA. This beer’s clean finish and low bitterness are keys to its drinkability.
Brooklyn, N.Y. and Memphis, Tenn.
Pale yellow and hazy, this brut IPA lacks the style’s typically clear appearance, but makes up for it with ample aroma and flavor. Piney and peachy with a candy nose, this citrusy spritzer impressed all of our tasters with its juicy IPA-akin flavors, and light, frothy body.
Inasmuch as the young style can be defined, this beer struck our panel as the quintessential brut IPA. It pours pale and clear, bubbly as can be, and aromatic with notes of orange, vanilla, and cotton candy. On the palate, it’s refreshing and herbal, with notes of Amarillo and Hallertau hops. “You drop of a cliff when you drink this beer,” one taster said. “You think you’re getting a juicy IPA, and then it’s nice and crisp. This is what the style is meant to be.”