Nick Carr on November 4, 2015 7 Comments History of White IPA The white IPA is basically a marriage of two distinct beer styles; the American IPA with its high hop character and the wheat-based Belgian Wit with its refreshing and spicy presence. So, what brought these two unique beer styles, which seem to have so little in common, together? Appropriately, it was a collaboration between two craft brewers that created the style. In 2010, Larry Sidor, the brewmaster at Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery, and Belgian-born Steven Pauwels, brewmaster at Boulevard Brewing, got together to develop a collaboration recipe. Deschutes was known for its hoppy brews, while Boulevard was known for playing in the wheat fields. They decided to combine their respective strengths and create something totally new. Just to see what would happen. After they’d hammered out the details of their experimental recipe — which included additions of lemongrass, white sage, coriander, and orange peel — each brewer went home and produced their own version of the beer. Deschutes called theirs Conflux Series No. 2 and Boulevard’s was simply named Collaboration No. 2 under their Smoke House Series. The two renditions, though born of the same exact recipe, came out quite different. A buzz in the beer world began to simmer around this collaboration. A buzz that was impossible to stop, especially once craft beer drinkers started to go out of their way to hunt down one or — striking the lucky mother lode — both of these new brews. They were a hit! And soon after, countless other craft breweries followed this first collaborative example, creating their own recipes for this still unnamed style. Like all brewers, the recipe was tweaked, refined and perfected. Thus, a new beer style was born. Five years later, the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) officially recognized White IPA as a new style within their release of the 2015 style guidelines, making it an official addition to the craft brewing family. Style Profile & Characteristics The guidelines for the White IPA beer style are set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Committee. The below style characteristics represent a summary of what a White IPA should represent, and what you should expect from drinking one. Quick Characteristics Color Range: 5–7 SRM Original Gravity: 1.056 – 1.065 OG Final Gravity: 1.010 – 1.016 FG IBU Range: 40-70 ABV Range: 5.5-7.0% Appearance: Ranges from hazy deep gold to hazy pale yellow; Moderately large white head that sticks around. Aroma: Light-to-Medium spice aromas; Fruity esters should be noticeable; Hoppiness should be low-to-moderate. Flavor: Moderate-to-high fruity esters; Light & bready maltiness; Notes of grapefruit, orange, apricot or banana are common; Clove & other spices are possible; Hop bitterness will be high while hop flavors will be medium-to-high; Dry & refreshing finish. Mouthfeel: Medium-light body with medium to medium-high carbonation Serving & Storage Temperature: 45-57°F Suggested Glass: IPA Glass Food Pairings: Cheese Enchiladas, Avocados, Chicken Fajitas; Sharp Cheddar, Blue Cheese The BJCP classifies the White IPA beer style under category number 21, “IPA” and it can be found in the guidelines as sub-category (21B), “Specialty IPA.” Other Specialty IPA Styles: In total, there are six “Specialty IPA” styles included in the BJCP guidelines. Aside from White IPA, these include the following: Belgian IPA Black IPA Brown IPA Red IPA Rye IPA Appearance: Often hazy, with a color ranging across the gold spectrum, from deep to pale. Usually presents a moderate to large, long-lasting white head of dense bubbles. Aroma: May present light to medium spice aromas of coriander and/or pepper. These aromas come from actual spice additions and/or the work of Belgian yeast. Some fruity esters (banana, citrus, apricot) will likely be noticeable. Hop aroma is low to moderate with qualities such as citrus, tropical, and stone fruit coming from American and/or New World varieties. This perception may be somewhat reduced by the presence of the spices and esters. Low clove-like phenolics are acceptable. Mouthfeel: Medium to mid-high carbonation in a med-light body. Little to no astringency, with highly spiced examples exhibiting a higher astringency, but it should never be distract. Taste: Light, bready malt flavors with moderate to high fruity esters. Grapefruit and orange are common, as is stone fruit such as apricot. Banana may also be present. Clove and other spicy flavors are possible because of the Belgian yeast. Hop bitterness is high with hop flavors in the med-high to med-low range. Coriander and orange peel flavors are also acceptable. Finish is drying and refreshing. *Reference: The 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines Examples of White IPA Style Chainbreaker White IPA from Deschutes Brewin Company (Bend, OR)Great American Beer Festival Winner, Silver, 2012. Available: Year Round. Whiplash White IPA from Sweetwater Brewing Company (Atlanta, GA)World Beer Cup Winner, Bronze, 2014. Available: December – February. Pig War White IPA from Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland, OR)Available: Summer. Galaxy White IPA from Anchorage Brewing Company (Anchorage, AK)Available: Year Round. White Dog IPA from El Segundo Brewing Company (El Segundo, CA)Available: Year Round. The Long Thaw White IPA from Harpoon Brewing Company (Boston, MA)Available: Spring. Whitewater IPA from The Boston Beer Company (Boston, MA)Available: Limited Release. White IPA from Blue Point Brewing Company (Patchogue, NY)Available: Year Round. Riptide White IPA from Heavy Seas Brewing Company (Baltimore, MD)Available: July – September. White Hops from Three Taverns Brewing Company (Decatur, GA)Available: Year Round. Accumulation from New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO)Available: Winter. Snow Wit White IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, CA)Available: Only in Winter variety pack. How to Brew A White IPA Recipe At its most basic a White IPA is a Belgian Wit grain bill hopped like an American IPA, but there is a bit more to it than that. Below are some brewing tips that will help you on the road to a good example of this style. Click Here to Shop for a White IPA Recipe Kit Grain Bill: A Belgian Wit grain bill is simple, but nowhere near as flexible as many other beer styles. It is made up of around 50% pale pilsner malt and 50% unmalted wheat. The Pilsner malt should be Belgian for authenticities sake, but if you can’t get Belgian for some reason, at least try to go with another European pilsner, such as Weyermann’s German pilsner malt. Unmalted wheat gives the beer that crisp refreshing quality, creating less sweetness and a thinner body. That’s the grain bill at its most basic. You can add 5% to 10% flaked or rolled oats to enhance flavor complexity and mouthfeel without adding much fermentable sugar. Another possible addition is just a smidge, under 5%, of Munich or aroma malt. This will add a slight bready quality and additional complexity, but you don’t want it so high it hides the soft graininess of the wheat. Take note that getting unmalted wheat to convert will be near impossible in a single infusion mash. To get it to convert properly you will either have to do a multi step infusion or a multi step decoction mash (more on this under the mash section). The only way to do a single infusion mash is to replace the unmalted wheat with either torrified wheat or flaked wheat. Both of these will convert fine in a single infusion mash, but allow the brew to retain most of the qualities of unmalted wheat. Note: Do not use malted wheat. Malted wheat will not give you the same soft grain character and the beer will be more akin to an American Wheat then a Belgian Wit. This style is a little hard to get right if extract-only brewing. The style greatly benefits from, at the very least, a partial mash to help convert the unmalted wheat and oats. If using steeping grains only, you will likely have to up the amount of extract used, because the steeping grains will not add any usable sugar to your brew. An ingredient kit might be the way to go here. In most cases, the extra base malt has already been factored in. Hops: Here is where we deviate from the Belgian Wit formula. A Belgian Wit is hopped very minimally, usually with noble hops of some sort. Well, all that goes out the window here. For a White IPA you want exactly what you don’t want if you’re brewing a Belgian Wit; bold citrusy American hop character. Some experimentation and sampling of commercial examples may be necessary to come up with the right hops and amounts. It is possible that some hops will — altogether or at too high an amount — clash with the beers spiciness. Summit, Nugget, Centennial, Amarillo, Cascade, and Bravo have all been used in commercial examples of the White IPA style. What about the hop schedule? Well, it’s pretty wide open. You could put all your hops in one basket, as it were, and only do a bittering addition. This will keep hop aromas from competing with the Belgian yeast and spice aromas. The Deschutes Chainbreaker goes to the other end of the scale, using a bittering addition and then nothing else until right at knockout where several more additions are added for aroma. Dry-hopping is also a viable option if you want more hop aromas. The only advice I really have is stick to aroma/flavor hops that have good citrus character for any late additions. The Mash: As I said earlier, if you use torrified or flaked wheat you can go on with a simple infusion mash. You want the saccrification temperature of this mash right around 153°F. This will give you more fermentable sugars and therefore a crisper, drier beer. On the other hand if you are using the unmalted wheat you’ll either have to do a multi step infusion mash or a decoction mash…. and you’ll want some rice hulls to help maintain the sparge. For a multi-step infusion there are a number of different ways to go about it. You can simply start with a protein rest at between 127°F and 130°F for 20 minutes before bumping it up to your saccrification temperature of 153°F. Or you can add a second 20 minute rest at about 140°F before bumping it to your sacrification temperature for 60 minutes. These rests allow the unmalted grain to gelatinize and enzymes, that work best at different temperatures, to start breaking down some of the proteins. A decoction mash is sort of the same thing but instead of raising the temperature by adding heated water you will boil a portion of the mash and then add it back in to raise the temperature of the whole thing. There are several different schedules out there for decoction mashing and I encourage anyone interested to do some research, but I’m not going to go into detail on it here. One piece of advice though, if this is your first White IPA or Belgian Wit, make it easy yourself and just go with the torrified or flaked wheat. Spices: The two traditional spices of the Belgian Wit are coriander and bitter orange peel. These have largely carried over into the White IPA style. It is very easy to overdue spices in brewing. Use restraint. A good place to start is around 3/4th of an ounce of each, usually added about 5 minutes before the end of the boil. Crack the coriander seeds (don’t crush them) before you add them and the bitter orange peel is not the same as you find in the super market, but it is usually available at most good homebrew shops. There is also no reason you have to stick with just these two spices. This is a new beer style created through innovation, continue that innovation. Even the Deschutes/Boulevard collaboration used lemongrass and white sage. Explore different spices and spice combinations. The Yeast: The yeast for a White IPA is going to be exactly what you’d use for a Belgian Wit. Just to throw a couple possibilities out there: White Labs: Belgian Wit Ale (WLP400) Wyeast: Belgian Witbier (3944) Dry Yeast: SafBrew Ale Yeast (T-58) Whatever yeast you decide on, you want that estery, somewhat spicy, and peppery quality that good Belgian Wits are known for. Pitch your yeast in at between 65°F-68°F and hold the temperature here for about a week. Starting at this lower temperature ensures the yeast doesn’t get over active right off the bat and create too many esters and phenols. After the first week, slowly raise the temperature letting the fermentation finish out in the low 70s, so that complete attenuation is attained. When fermentation is complete, carbonate to around 2.5 volumes of CO2. An easy way to figure out your priming sugar is by using one of the handy online carbonation calculators. Plug your numbers in and it will spit out the quantity of your chosen priming ingredient. The White IPA style offers the intrepid homebrewer new places to explore. Sure, the grain bill is pretty set, but think of how many varieties of hops there are out there and how many different spices might find a place here. Think of the experience broadening practice of trying a step mash or even a decoction mash for the first time. Brew it. Play, innovate, and find your own answer to this newly recognized style. Cheers!