Make Your Best Highlights
Going beyond the simple question of “what” and instead exploring the “why” will help you understand how to design and brew better beers.
The White IPA functionally updates a classic style in a way that emphasizes the regional particulars of the original beer while incorporating updated ingredients. The result is an “identifiable” style in the best sense of the word: the description has internal logic, and the result is worth emulating and replicating. Style: I suppose White IPA technically is a “Belgian” IPA, but it derives much more from the “witbier” half of “Belgian Witbier.” The characteristics are those of the witbier: a blend of Pilsner malt and unmalted wheat, a spice-and-fruit flavor profile, a lively ester and phenol contribution from the yeast, and a modest level of alcohol. To that, add a hops profile that derives its flavors from American or Australian/ New Zealander hops varieties and increases bitterness substantially. Being an IPA, this is obviously going to be more hops-forward than the traditional Belgian Witbier, but it doesn’t leave it behind. Hops should accentuate, not overshadow, the classic style. Recipe: This recipe wanders into the higher end of the ABV range for the style, but not absurdly so. Pilsner malt and flaked wheat lay down the grainy/wheaty base that we’d expect from a witbier. Melanoidin malt adds more, and a different expression of, “bready” flavor, and acidulated malt creates an impression of lemon/citrus. Starting gravity should be about 1.063. You’ll want some rice hulls for the mash, or you run the risk of sticking.
Hopping is my favorite part of this beer. Part stays as it is in my Belgian wit recipe: enough Pacific Jade (which actually tastes like pepper, coriander, orange, and more that we’re not going to add) to get 20–25 IBUS from an addition with 10 minutes left in the boil, then more at flame-out. To those flame-out hops, we add Amarillo pellets, which will increase the fruity character and make it a bit less Continental and more classically American. The stone-fruit flavors are a great complement to the lime-and-pepper of the Pacific Jade. Finally, returning to the top of the boil, add 25 IBUS from any high-alpha hops variety.
For yeast, I recommend the more conventional Wyeast 3944 (Belgian Witbier) yeast. I find spice and herb additions unnecessary, given the hops used. You can add them at your own peril: spicing increases the risk of astringency, and especially in an IPA variant, that’s something to avoid. Process: Mash at 152°F (67°C) for 90 minutes for a healthy and complete mash/conversion even in the absence of a protein rest. Boil as usual, and let your hops sit in the whirlpool for 15–20 minutes to extract as much of their oils, aromas, and flavors as possible! Chill, pitch, and ferment this beer at 67°F (19°C) for the first 4–5 days before letting the temperature free rise to about 72°F (22°C). Fermentation should finish up quickly—within 10 days. Package it as early as you can (48 hours after airlock activity falls way off ) and carbonate to 2.25 volumes. A bit of haze is typical in the style, so there’s no need to wait for it to clear.