Brut Brews: How Ancient Techniques Are Driving the World's Trendiest Beers – VinePair

Cat Wolinski Brut Brews: How Ancient Techniques Are Driving the World’s Trendiest Beers

Unless you’ve been living under a beer-repellant rock, you’ve likely heard the word “brut” thrown around the beer world lately. This is mostly due to the recently emerged, rapidly spreading brut IPA category.

But “brut” is not new to brews. Brewers have been experimenting with the sparkling-wine-inspired method for at least a decade. Called bière brut, or bière de Champagne, bottle-conditioned, effervescent beers are are produced in, or inspired by, the méthode Champenoise (Champagne method). The ancient technique is also known as the méthode traditionelle or méthode originale.

Its adaptation to beer yields bubbly, fruity, bone-dry brews worthy of any celebration. Bière brut is currently making a splash around the world yet again, as trendy brewers like Cloudwater, Side Project Brewing, and Mikkeller release iterations of the Champagne-inspired style.

Scientific Method

Bière brut is defined more by its production method than by style. Typically, it is very effervescent, high-gravity (8 percent ABV or more) and light-bodied, like sparkling wine. But what truly puts the “brut” in brut beer is what happens after it’s bottled, not its ingredients.

All brut beers are bottle-conditioned, but not all bottle-conditioned beers are brut. For a bottle-conditioned beer to become a bière brut, it must undergo secondary fermentation using Champagne yeast (as opposed to ale yeast), and then be riddled and disgorged (remuage and dégorgement).

“Riddling” means bottles are aged on their sides, positioned so the bases of the bottles sit slightly higher than the tops, so sediment can settle in the neck. As the liquid ages over the course of several months, bottles are routinely twisted so sediment on the sides of the bottle can loosen. “Disgorging” refers to the next step, when the bottle necks are placed in a cold bath that flash-freezes

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