Brew Review: Brut Techniques for Various Styles

Empyrean Brewing‘s Jim Engelbart said that the brewery’s Mind Over Mango IPA was designed as a gateway for consumers to a more intense beer flavor.

“But we always strive to bridge the divide between the die-hard craft fan and the craft-curious,” said Engelbart, the Nebraska brewery’s Productions Manager. “IPA is growing. Fruit beer is growing. In fact, this beer serves as a bridge to reintroduce beer drinkers to IPAs who have previously shied away from them for being too bitter.”

Mind Over Mango was created using Brut techniques along with the fruit so that it has enough sweetness to balance the bite.

Engelbart said the brewery’s mantra is to reimagine the classics. To date, it has released two Brut-style IPAs: one with orange peel and this one with mango. Empyrean has also done several hop-centric Wheat Ales using Brut techniques in the past two years.

“We love how the dry, effervescence props up the hop aromas, especially in the finish — and burp — that comes with dry-hopped beers,” Engelbart said.

He notes that the brew team has used caution with real fruit additions in bottled beers and lean towards natural flavor extracts.

“We use a natural mango extract in Mind Over Mango,” he said. “We get better flavor-repeatability and shelf stability with extracts.

“However, extracts really only carry aroma, not so much flavor, so it was unexpected for us to find how the perceived sweetness from the fruit aroma fools your brain into thinking you are drinking something sweet, but you never get full.”

The goal for Mind Over Mango was to make a unique, highly drinkable IPA, not a Brut IPA.

“The “brut-ing” of the beer was a means to an end — namely, we wanted a lighter body and finish so we can drink a round (or three),” Engelbart said. “We had heard “Brut” in the name wasn’t’ selling Brut IPA for others and felt it really wasn’t the defining characteristic of the beer anyway — it’s the Mango and the hops.”

He added that Mind Over Mango has been very well received.

“We’ve only had six-packs in our local markets for ten months and we’re just starting to build draft and bottle distribution in our out-of-state markets,” he said. “Creating dynamic drinking experiences using the full tool-kit of flavor enhancement we have as brewers is what got us into this business and makes us excited to come to work every day.

“Having Brut added to our kit … you can bet we’ve have plans for more yummy fun with enzymes.”

The artwork and name were consciously created to tell a story that reflects the flavor balance while enticing a class of buyers who value an experience, which can make it appealing to craft-centric customers.

“Our biggest retail outlets are grocery stores where women make the majority of the purchasing decisions, as well as in our restaurant-paired taprooms where Brut IPAs have the strength to complement boldly-flavored foods,” Engelbart said. “There we rely on staff to make recommendations to customers. These are all marketing factors we took into consideration when designing both this beer and its packaging.”

The brewery unintentionally crafted a “healthy” IPA, low-carb beer as well as Mind Over Mango tests out at 6.7g of carbs and 200 calories but it’s not being touted as so.

“We chose to market it based on its flavor attributes, like all of our other products,” they said. “For us, it’s more important we promote responsible alcohol consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle, not alcohol as a health drink.”

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