Brewery: Brussels Beer Project (Brussels, Belgium)
Style: IPA – Belgian
7% ABV / 55 IBU
The idea behind the Brussels Beer Project’s “bread IPA” is up-cycling: At least 20% of the grain base of Babylone is from loaves of unsold bread, which have been dried out and pulverized into crumbs. It’s a fantastic idea from an environmental standpoint, since brewing produces a lot of waste with spent grain. True, that spent grain can be fed to animals or milled into a high-fiber flour for baking. But the latter produces a large amount of non-enriched flour that can only be used in limited ratios. Babylone still produces waste, but the Brussels Beer Project estimates that the beer rescues 10 tons of bread every year, so Mother Earth benefits a bit here.
If this is intended to be a beer that conveys the idea of drinking liquid bread, Babylone doesn’t quite live up to the hype. I’d hoped for something thick, yeasty, and incredibly malt-forward. Brussels Beer Project gets it right with the color – an opaque light brown that resembles whole wheat bread. There’s the faintest hint of yeastiness on the nose, but it doesn’t come through in the flavor or the mouthfeel. Babylone is surprisingly light-bodied and very carbonated for a beer of this style. But the label ain’t lying: It is a Belgian style IPA made with bread.
Interesting things happen as this beer warms up to room temperature. The maltiness of Babylone comes forward as Babylone opens up. It also becomes less mellow and a little more bracing and bitter, which is really where you experience the impact of it being dry-hopped twice (with Columbus and Chinook hops) at the end of its fermentation phase. What’s odd is that Babylone looks and drinks like a slightly citrus-y English Special Bitter, albeit at a much higher gravity. Either way, your body metabolizes this in the same way as a hunk of bread; this is definitely the more appealing way to consume a stale loaf.
For more info on Brussels Beer Project, please head here.