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Belt’s Beer Garden: Life is Brut-iful

This week I sample two Bruts - Sierra Nevada’s Brut IPA & Surly’s DAF


This week I sample two beers from an emerging style - Brut IPAs. They’re like a combination of beer and champagne so it’s perfect for anyone that loves booze and beer.

First up, a California behemoth’s attempt at the fad.

Everyone probably knows about Sierra Nevada, one of the original OGs of the beer world. The Chico, California brewery began back in 1980 and has grown to become the third largest craft brewery in the US and has even opened up a second location across the country in Mills River, North Carolina.

They recently released a Brut IPA which is brewed with Comet, Chinook, Crystal, and Simcoe hops and three malt varieties. At 25 IBU and 6.2% ABV it’s got a moderate kick but shouldn’t be too bad. A six-pack of bottles runs the typical $10 and is available across the US but might not be a year-round offering just yet.

This IPA poured a vivid, translucent golden straw color with little head. No more than a finger of bright white bubbles ever showed up and, really quickly, all that remained was a small accumulation around the edge of the glass.

On the nose you could smell the dryness and brut aspects but outside of those qualities this beer didn’t have much. From what I could key in on it did have a blend of hoppy notes - citrus, floral, and some white wine/grape – in what was a rather weak and subdued aroma. With such a weak smell, it was hard to pick up on the individual characteristics though.

It begins with a mild rush of carbonation and a lighter, thinner mouthfeel. Like in the aroma, there wasn’t much in the flavor department here either.

Mild orange rind and some lemon started it off before a stronger corn flake flavor from the malt mixed in midway through with some bready sweetness. As the flavor continued, those notes of white wine/sparkling grape juice crept in – bringing a somewhat champagne-like feeling to the beer.

As it begins to fade away, the brut/champagne kicks in with a moderate dryness but otherwise Brut IPA ends rather cleanly with no long-lasting flavors…just that touch of dryness.

I was surprised at how light and easy to drink this was. I was expecting a stronger, more flavorful brew with an intense dryness and strong effervescence but, instead, it was kind of muted and just finished with a somewhat crisp and moderate dryness…and it was not the “extra dry IPA” that the bottle said it would be.

It wasn’t a bad beer…it was balanced and pretty tasty. But it didn’t really feel too much like a brut. If you like semi-dry champagnes/beers and non-hoppy IPAs, this is the combo for you. Easy to drink with a blend of hops and malt flavors and some moderate dryness on the end.

Next up, a Minnesotan brewery’s take on the Brut style.

Surly, out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been around for a while (13+ years now) and has made some damn fine beers. In fact, they brewed over 29 million pints in 2017 alone and plan to release 25 new beers this year according to their website.

You can find them speckled across the country, in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia, and Wisconsin and a few places in other states as well.

Today I have their DAF, a brut IPA made with Citra and Vic Secret hops and four types of malt. If you’re wondering how DAF got its name, it’s simple…this beer is Dry As Fu**. It’s sold in six-packs of cans that cost $11 and each one comes with a 7% ABV and a “moderate” IBU rating. It’s just a seasonal release though and wont be around long.

DAF poured a cloudy, dirty straw color with about a finger of bright white bubbles that quickly build up and fizzle away into a razor thin line around the edge of the glass.

This brut IPA had a huge citrus aroma. Juicy fruits like orange, mango, papaya, and pineapple lead the way but, as with most bruts, there is also a light white grape characteristic and some effervescence that stings my nostrils.

It starts out with a big rush of carbonation and a moderately thick mouthfeel before the citrusy flavors can really emerge. The fizz of the carbonation continues underneath everything and buzzes on my tongue for almost the entirety of the sip.

Clawing their way up from the bubbly start are the mango, papaya, and orange notes in what makes for a nice blend of tropical flavors. But, almost immediately, the dryness begins to creep in as well…vacuuming the moisture out of my mouth as the sip continues.

Midway through the champagne flavors kick in with a light white grape sweetness that adds to the tropical flavors that have already made themselves known. And, with the addition of those grape notes, the beer then starts to then slowly fade out.

Gradually all that remains is a citrus rind bitter twinge (nothing bad at all though) and that increasingly dry feeling that grows for the entire length of the sip before beginning to fade out over the next few minutes.

A glass of water is a recommended accompaniment to this beer as, after multiple swigs of DAF, my palate was in desperate need of some rehydration.

If you like dry champagne/beers…this is a must try before it disappears. Lots of nice tropical fruit flavors before the massive dryness take hold. The 7% is unnoticeable and the price is right.

Screw toasting with champagne. I’m using DAF for all my celebrations.