Ardent Craft Ales | Brett IPA
Richmond, VA is known to some as a mecca for craft beer in the state for lovers. Ardent Craft Ales was originally started as a cooperative of homebrewers who wanted to get out of their kitchen and brew a little more seriously. To do so, they rented out a garage with a half-barrel system and started brewing every Sunday in said garage located in the Churchill region in the eastern side of the city.
The co-op of homebrewers that got together really well set some plans into motion to start Ardent Craft Ales in the summer of 2010 and those plans came to fruition in the summer of 2014; they recently celebrated their 5 year anniversary in June of this year.
The story of how their Brett IPA was created is that it started out as a mistake; they had a problem with their Saison yeast cross-contaminating their IPAs. They finally found the root cause of the problem, but the Saison yeast had contaminated the most current batch of their IPA. The contamination resulted in their American IPA tasting like a Belgian IPA that they weren’t too pleased with. So after some discussions, they came to the conclusion of throwing some Brett at the contaminated batch of the IPA. They portioned some of the beer off into their 1000 liter tank (dubbed Frank The Tank) and dosed it with Brett.
Their core IPA dubbed Ardent IPA is their standard IPA which is 6.8% Abv standard malt-backboned recipe with 100% Citra hops to emphasize citrusy, tropical notes of grapefruit, melon, and passion fruit and is around 30 IBUs; this is kind of on the high side for a Brett beer, but the Citra hops kind of kept that Brett character from running wild and still let some of those citrus notes shine through. The team at Ardent actually really liked how it turned out, so they keg conditioned it for a couple of months and decided to serve it.
On tap now in the taproom is Batch #2. With this batch, they intentionally produced their Brett style IPA which is also 6.8% ABV and was generously hopped with Citra and fermented with two strains of Brettanomyces. This funky, dry beer perfectly complements the citrusy, fruity hops and effervescent finish. It pours a slightly copper, slightly medium amber color with a medium-lasting white head. When you bring the glass up to your nose, you get hit with the aromatics of the Brett character (barnyard, goaty, horse blanket, etc) along with some citrusy, piney notes as well.
While you might expect the taste of the Brett IPA to lean either one way or the other, everything is actually balanced extremely well. While you get that farmhouse character from the Brettanomyces, the Citra/ bitterness shines through as well. All the tasting notes are intermingled and you get an IPA that can easily drink one after the other. The biggest takeaway that I had after drinking this beer can be easily summed up by my good friend Bob Ross, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”
Feature image courtesy of Ardent Craft Ales.