Banded Brewing Champagne Papis

Beer Review: Banded Brewing’s Champagne Papi(s)

IPA. Those three letters sure do mean a lot of different things these days, the majority of which come nowhere close to resembling the origins of the of the world’s most popular craft beer style, especially when you tack on a modifier:


New England IPA, Sour IPA, Brett IPA, Milkshake IPA, English IPA, West Coast IPA, Belgian IPA, Session IPA, Double IPA, Black IPA, Brown IPA, Red IPA.


There is such a wide variety of appearances, flavors, aromas, and mouthfeels amongst the above group, yet we still call them ‘IPA’. It’s gotten to the point that you can almost hear the collective groaning each time a new IPA trend begins to make some noise (hi there Glitter IPA). When New England IPA first came on the scene, they were referred to as heavily flawed and unfinished due to their appearance. The latest IPA trend doesn’t seem to be a target for the naysayers however.


While still in its early stages, Brut IPA seems to have gotten a fairly warm reception to the craft world, even from folks in the industry. In a thread on Facebook, Brewbound’s Chris Furnari said, “I’ve only sampled one Brut IPA, but really enjoyed it. I think this style could have some legs, especially if marketed/pitched to consumers correctly.” Mitch Steele, the man who literally wrote the book on IPA added, “I  like them and enjoy brewing Brut IPA” and New Belgium Brewer Kelly McKnight said, “I’ve brewed 6 different ones in the last two weeks…”


We haven’t had the opportunity to taste many, so we were excited to get our hands on Banded Brewing’s (Biddeford, Maine) dual Brut IPA release Champagne Papi: Vin Rouge & Vin Blanc.


With labels resembling those that adorn Dom Pérignon bottles and a name borrowed from rapper Drake’s Instagram handle, these Banded beers tick just about everything off of the pop culture checklist. Each Champagne Papi version is 8.2% ABV, has a grist bill of Maine House Pilsner malt, 2-Row wheat, and flaked corn, and is hopped with Amarillo, Idaho 7 and Halltertau Blanc. The difference between vin Rouge and vin Blanc, is in the addition of grape juice – Rouge utilizing Syrah grape must and Blanc sporting a Pinot Gris juice addition.


Champagne Papi vin Blanc
8.2% ABV
w/ Pinot Gris Juice
Maine House Pilsner & 2-Row Wheat
Amarillo, Idaho 7, Hallertau Blanc, Flaked Corn

The vin Blanc pours a hazy but not quite turbid faded gold color with a cotton candy-like head. Tons of sticky citrus and white grape on the nose. Big flavor and body up front, that just absolutely disappears on the second half of the sip. This beer is extremely dry and the mouthfeel vanishes, but the big hop character and the Pinot Gris juice have a long lasting finish. Husky grain note hiding somewhere in there as well. Prickly carbonation on the tongue. Beautiful lacing is left along the side of the glass as I drink this beer (very quickly) Super dangerous – two thirds of the way through the alcohol warmth becomes apparent.


Champagne Papi vin Rouge
8.2% ABV
w/ Syrah Grape Must
Maine House Pilsner & 2-Row Wheat
Amarillo, Idaho 7, Hallertau Blanc, Flaked Corn

The Syrah Must isn’t hiding in the appearance of the vin Rouge. It’s pours a pretty fleshy peach/sunkissed blush color with a rocky white head. This smells of creamy strawberries to me – very appealing aroma. The alcohol is hiding behind the fruit, I can tell this is going to feel just as big as the white grape variant. The palate is definitely fruit-forward, but with earthy and dank, hoppy layers below. Like vin Blanc, the mouthfeel plays a disappearing trick on me. Dry and amplified bitterness in comparison to its counterpart. Nice palate-scrubbing carbonation.


So far, the Brut IPAs I’ve tasted have been really fun to drink. Having only experienced four or five at this point, I haven’t been let down yet. There’s something about that full mouthfeel that washes away in a wave of super dry bubbles. I’ve found that hop character really shines through on these beers, whereas I think it’s easier for their profiles to be muddled in New England IPAs. Banded shows with these two offerings that Brut IPAs, unsurprisingly, are the perfect match for grape juice additions. Seek these two out, it’s a fun side-by-side.


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