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The no hop “IPA”

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We’ve seen IPAs with more IBUs than the tongue can perceive, so it was probably only a matter of time before an IPA came out with a whopping zero IBUs. That’s exactly what Flying Dog and BrewDog attempt to achieve with its forthcoming collaboration: the International Arms Race Zero IBU IPA, an “IPA”—or what sounds like a gruit—that swaps out hops for spearmint, bay leaves, rosemary, juniper berries and elderflower.

I’d love to see the popularization of the gruit style. By definition, it omits hops—an obvious strike against it in this hop-forward market—but like saisons, there’s so much room for variation and creativity. Gruits also give us a reason to drink crazy ingredients like sage and bog myrtle.

Like we’ve seen in previous collaborations with Deschutes and Boulevard, both breweries will make its own version of the beer, then release it simultaneously this June in the mid-Atlantic U.S. and throughout the U.K.

Are you ready to enjoy a beer sans hops?

7 Comments

  • Billy Broas says:

    It goes to show you that extreme doesn’t always have to be on the high end of things.

    Like you, I am excited about this release. Gruits are a frontier that have been under-explored by modern craft breweries. The only one I can remember trying, by Fritz Briem, I really enjoyed. You just need to be prepared for a beer that doesn’t really taste like beer.

  • Daniel Ferguson says:

    Very interesting. I’ve always wanted to craft a gruit, and I’ll be able to try one before taking on the task. But, not to nitpick, by definition it cannot be called an IPA. Semi-clever attempt at a marketing ploy, but doesn’t work.

  • Daniel Thompson says:

    Correct me if im wrong but doesn’t the beer become an IPA when its bitterness to malt ratio reaches a certain level not its hops to malt ratio? This means you can call the beer an IPA regardless of the battering agent used.

  • Chip Scott says:

    Daniel T. – When it comes to bitterness, IPAs typically have a target of 40-60 IBUs for an English style IPA and 40-70 IBUs for an American style IPA. What makes this beer interesting is that it has ZERO IBUs, which technically means that it cannot be classified as an IPA. It is more akin to a Gueuze or Lambic (or in this case a gruit as notes the author of the article, though this is not a BJCP style). I 100% agree with Daniel Ferguson that slapping the “IPA” moniker onto the beer is completely marketing. Brewdog is known for pushing the boundaries of conventional IPAs, so they’re likely trying to cash in on their reputation as an extreme IPA brewer (even though this is definitely NOT an IPA).

  • CW says:

    Call me “traditionalist, boring, unimaginative”, whatever. I prefer my beer to taste like beer. Please, no fruity designer flavors or unnatural rough edge smoothers for me. Hops gives beer it’s distinctive bite. Beer should “bite”. No Billy, I am not, nor will I ever be, prepared for a beer that doesn’t taste like beer. To me, it isn’t beer at all!

  • Howard B. says:

    @Chip Scott..”slapping the “IPA” moniker onto the beer is completely marketing”

    The term Craft Beer is completely marketing too. LOL.
    People seem so hung up on trying to rigidly define beer styles.
    Why do you invoke the BJCP here?
    They are 1) Without any authority and are certainly not the “style police” and 2) Their stated purpose has nothing to do with commercially made beer.

    If these brewers want to call it an IPA let them. Maybe India Pale Gruit would be more accurate, but who cares? It is an interpretation of the style…and they are upfront about the lack of hops. I don’t see the harm in it.
    Actually, it’s probably the only BrewDog product I’d ever be remotely interested in trying.

  • Champagne James says:

    Hops is highly estrogenic. Lose the hops, unless you want moobs.

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