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What Exactly Is a White IPA? (Explained)


Birthed in 2010 and still a fan favorite, the hop-meets-wheat white IPA offers the best of both worlds. Whether you are looking to brew your own or try one on tap, knowing exactly what a white IPA is will prepare you for your tasting adventure. 

A white IPA is a beer that is pale-golden in color and refreshing in taste. It is a mixture of the American IPA hops beer and a Belgian Wit wheat-based beer. The combination of beer styles offers a fruity flavor, with moderate hop bitterness and crispness. 

What brought about the creation of the famous white IPA? This article breaks down the beer’s origin, characteristics, flavor profile, and the basics of brewing. Read on to impress your friends with some facts at the next pub meet.

A White IPA, what is it?

White IPA Origin

The India Pale Ale (IPA) has been around for centuries. 

Created by British sailors exploring India, the IPA came to be when sailors used extra hops to combat the beer spoilage problem they encountered in the hotter climate. Previous to this, hops were used as a stabilizer in beer making but never to this extent. 

Adding additional hops to the brew brought forth a more robust, bitter beer with citrus fruit notes and it quickly became a highly desired beer. Compared to traditional wheat beer that had been around for centuries at that point, the IPA was a crisp, new, and refreshing beer choice. 

What is a White IPA? (Explained)

2010 brought along the creation of our friend, the white IPA. Two brewmasters named Larry Sidor and Steven Pauwels, both hailing from different breweries, got together to play around with brewing techniques. 

Pauwels had a Belgian upbringing and a preference for wheat-based beers while brewing at Boulevard Brewing. Sidor’s expertise hailed from brewing at Deschutes Brewery, well known for their strong IPAs. Combining both brew styles brought about the creation of the white IPA beer.

Like wildfire, the gospel of white IPA spread everywhere, and the beer community accepted it with open arms. White IPA became a popular choice for those who landed in the middle of hoppy bitter notes and the richness of wheat beer. 

In 2015, the Beer Judge Certification Program blessed the white IPA and made it an official beer style in the IPA variant category. White IPA shares this category with: 

  • Black IPA 
  • Brown IPA
  • Rye IPA
  • Belgian IPA
  • Red IPA 

White IPA Characteristics

What characteristics make a White IPA so popular? Let’s take a look at these attributes.

Visual Attributes of White IPAs

The white IPA varies from a pale yellow to a deep golden color with a hazy, slightly cloudy visibility. The white head is deep and long-lasting, while the large bubbles lend to a higher fizz from carbonation. 

Thanks to Belgian brewing traditions, the use of unmalted wheat plays a part in the hazy features of this beer. 

Aroma of White IPA

Despite it being a key ingredient used in white IPA, the hops’ aroma isn’t dominant when smelling the beer. Coriander spice, citrus, and a fruity aroma are the first to hit you, but thanks to the use of Belgian wheat, the spice notes are deep and compelling. 

Hops lend to the fruity, citrus notes that play a crucial role in the flavor profile

White IPA Flavor Profile

Spices like coriander and clove are noticeable upon the first sip. The blend of Belgian unmalted wheat and Pilsner malt also creates a grassy, earthy tone in addition to rich spices. Next up, the bitterness and flavor of the hops come forth and bring along notes of various citrus fruits. 

The citrus-meets-earthy tones of a white IPA make it a perfect beer to pair with almost anything. Sunday night football with a wedge of lemon? Sounds good. Pairing it at a fancy cheese tasting event? Absolutely! 

White IPAs make a great introductory beer for those who struggle with pungent flavors. The bitterness that comes with a solid hoppy beer isn’t for everyone, just as a full-bodied wheat beer is an acquired taste. 

The magic happens when you meet in the middle. 

White IPA: Ingredients To Brew Your Own

Can you brew your own White IPA? Of course, you can, so let’s take a look at what you’ll need along with the process.

Ingredients Needed to Brew a White IPA

Ready to jump in the craft brewing world to create a white IPA? Here is what you will need:

  • Belgian unmalted wheat
  • Belgian Pilsner malt (Amazon)
  • Flaked Oats
  • Pacific Jade Hops
  • Belgian Yeast (Witbier)
  • Optional: Orange peel
  • Optional: Apricot peel 

Alternatively, you can pick up a White IPA brewing kit like this Strange Brew Belgian White IPA 5 Gallon Extract Homebrew Recipe Kit (available at Amazon) that includes everything you need to make a basic White IPA. 

White IPA Brewing Methodology

  1. Make the mash: In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add the wheat and oats, stirring until it becomes porridge-like consistency. Cook for an hour at 150°F (66°C), stirring every 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Sparge: While the mash is cooking, heat another large pot of water. Set up the lauter tun, or filter, over another pot and place the mash on top, allowing the liquid to drain. Take the heated pot of water and pour over the mash to further extract the desired sugars. 
  3. Boil the mort: Bring the mort (the extracted liquid) to the point of foaming and keep it at a rolling boil for an hour. Add the hops at the beginning, middle, and end of the boil, including any peels or extracts. 
  4. Fermentation: Allow the mort to cool, adding in extra water if it boiled down too quickly. Strain it again, pouring the mort into a fermenter like this KLARSTEIN Maischfest Fermentation Kettle from Amazon. Following the fermenter instructions, allow the beer to ferment for about two weeks. 
  5. Bottle: After two weeks, the beer is ready to be bottled and enjoyed by all. 
Brewing a White IPA – When to Step Mash

Conclusion

White IPA is the love child of the Belgian Wit and American IPA, created by Larry Sidor and Steven Pauwels. The beer was widely accepted and was formally named a brew by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) in 2015. 

The beer includes a combination of Pilsner malt, Belgian unmalted wheat, and hops. White IPA is a pale yellow to deep gold in color and offers a spicy, fruity aroma and flavor and is easily enjoyed as a stand-alone drink or paired with cheeses. 

A great introductory beer for all, the White IPA is worth a try!

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