The latest trend/fad in beer styles is the White IPA (soon to be renamed by the Pacific Northwest as Cascadian White Ale) with Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA, Samuel Adams’ Whitewater IPA, Saranac’s White IPA, Anchorage’s Galaxy White IPA, Harpoon’s White IPA, and even Shock Top Wheat IPA (does that mean the style has already “jumped the shark”?) all being announced or released recently. I can understand why brewers are hopping on the White IPA train because it seems like a sales juggernaut to combine IPA (which is the largest selling single style in the US) with a White Ale (Witbier) (with Blue Moon producing upwards of two million barrels of the stuff a year* and their dollar sales increasing even faster than craft beer’s), and I am surprised it has not happened sooner. Commercially the White IPA combination only came about recently with a collaboration between Boulevard Brewing and Deschutes (this statement will probably be proved wrong by either a former employee of the The Vermont Pub & Brewery or Ron Pattinson), when they brewed their aptly named White IPA. Now I have in my stash said beer (the Boulevard Brewing version of the recipe), and decided to crack the beer open and find out what this White IPA style is all about.
“Enticing” was the first word in my head, when I caught the first whiffs of aroma, orange and fruit, emanating from the bottle. Poured into a tulip glass the golden-colored beer produced a rocky white head with a good inch and half depth that lasted four to five minutes, and did not disappear until half the glass was consumed. As the head’s bubbles burst, aromas of orange, green apple, herbs and yeasty tang ensconced in my nose. My first sips were full of coriander, and sage, which I did not find overly enjoyable, and a sour yeast finish. With time however, the beer’s orange and fruit flavor, initially noticed in the nose, made a more pronounced showing, though never truly overcoming the initial herb flavors. The sour was also counter balanced by a light bitter note. The beer throughout the session had a dry, crisp, and refreshing finish.
Now my foray with the White IPA was not on the best of terms. As I was drinking the beer I happen to notice on the label a “best by” date (in my opinion “best by” dates should be found more often on craft beer) of 02-2012, so my beer was nearing the end of its “life”. With that in mind, and my belief a fresher White IPA would display a stronger IPA characteristic that would counter balance the herbal notes of the White Ale, I am still on the fence with the White IPA style. Adding white ale’s herbal characteristics to the fruity chracteristics of the IPA style did not do anything for me. I am not a fan of herbal beer, and this did not help change that. I did however enjoy the sour-bitter combination the yeast imparted, and the dry, crisp, refreshing finish of the beer, so I am not against trying the White IPA style again. And with so many White IPAs coming out in the ensuing months, it looks like I will have plenty of opportunities to decide which side of the White IPA fence I am on.
*Guesstimate based on this post.
Photo Credit: walknboston, Creative Commons License