Brewbound Podcast Episode 17: Brewery Ommegang President on Brut IPAs and Life After Game of Thrones

Brewery Ommegang, owned by Belgium’s Duvel Moortgat, was searching for a way to compete in an overcrowded IPA segment when it stumbled across the emerging Brut IPA trend.

Marked by Champagne-like characteristics, Brut IPAs combine hoppy flavors and aromas with the more effervescent mouthfeel that many Belgian beers exhibit.

“Could we find a way to fuse the flavors of American hop culture and Belgian brewing and the highly attenuated, effervescent kind of brew styles that Duvel, our parent company, and we are most known for,” Brewery Ommegang president Doug Campbell told the Brewbound Podcast in November.

The Cooperstown, New York-based craft brewery didn’t hatch the idea of a sparkling IPA. The style originated in San Francisco, at Social Kitchen & Brewery, where brewmaster Kim Sturdavant used an enzyme called amyloglucosidase to create a dry IPA with no residual sugar.

Months later, after a handful of West Coast breweries experimented with the new style, Brewery Ommegang began brewing test batches using the same amylase enzyme.

According to Campbell, a “pleasant side effect” of using the enzyme is that Ommegang’s take on the new style, which checks in at 6.3 percent ABV, only has 140 calories per 12 ounces.

“That was not our intent by any means,” he said. “I do think it is in fact what we set out to do. If you look at it, it is crystal clear, bubbly and effervescent. If you did smash together Hennepin or more appropriately Duvel and an IPA, I would think that what is in your hand would be pretty close to it.”

Fewer calories notwithstanding, Campbell believes that the new style of beer will become “a bigger component of the marketplace,” because Ommegang specializes in making more effervescent beers.

“We didn’t set out to conform to a trend,” he said. “I am happy, I suppose, that the trend is a thing, I suppose that helps us sell the beer in.”

In episode 17 of the Brewbound Podcast, Campbell discusses the Brut IPA trend, how Brewery Ommegang plans to help build awareness around the new style, and the challenges of building an entirely new product category. He also discusses strategies for executing successful partnerships – such as the one Ommegang had with HBO and the Game of Thrones series – as well as a consumer shift toward prioritizing proximity over quality when making purchasing decisions.

Also in this episode: Brewbound editors Chris Furnari and Justin Kendall share Brewbound’s most-read stories in 2018, and the final news clips that crossed the Brewbound desks before the end of the year. Furnari and Kendall also introduce two new segments, and share their 2019 New Year’s resolutions.

Listen to episode 17 of the Brewbound Podcast above, as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. New episodes of the Brewbound Podcast, which is co-hosted by Furnari and Kendall, are published every Thursday.

Episode 17, featuring Artisanal Brewers Collective founder Tony Yanow, who also co-founded Golden Road Brewing, will be released on Thursday, January 10.

For questions, comments or suggestions, please email podcast@brewbound.com.

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