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White IPA? WTH is that?

So my friends - especially my friends in Spain - may ask, "Pardon me, but what the hell is a White IPA?" And that's a fair question. Especially since you will have, in Spain, a White IPA that Alberto and I brewed at Mateo & Bernabé in La Rioja Spain in a few weeks.

The use of the style name "White IPA" is fairly new. And only in the past few years do we see examples from DeschutesAnchorage Brewing, El Segundo Brewing, and a few others. The first I ever brewed was last year in a collaboration with my friend Dan at Out of the Park Pizza - a Double India Witte we called "Dwight".

Dwight - a Belgo-American Double India Witte
Dwight - a Belgo-American Double India Witte. Or, a White IPA.

The roots of a White IPA come from the base beer, which is the Belgian Witbier. So the backbone underlying the presentation of hops should be:

  • A light colored beer, slightly cloudy from the wheat, with aggressive carbonation and a full head
  • A crisp and light malt profile expressing the pepper and clean sweetness of wheat
  • The presence of peppery, mildly Belgian funky, and fruity yeast esters

Which means the hop selection is a bit tricky. Too dank, herbal/savory , or resinous an you'll step all over the refreshing characteristics in the Witbier base. Trickier still, you have to layer the hops with clean bittering as a backnote to support the hop freshness forward target - from late hop bursting, and dry hopping - appropriate to the style.

You want a crisp and refreshing beer, with a big head and aggressive carbonation, slightly bitter and peppery, with a nice punch of fresh citrus, herbs, and peppery spice to finish it off. And this White IPA Alberto and I brewed should have all this, and more.

Why more? I'm sitting in a hotel room in Zaragoza Spain tuning up the recipe for this WIPA, thinking "crispy, funky, bright, citrusy, peppery, herbal/fresh". An email comes in with a photo from Alberto. He says, How about Lemon Thyme and fresh Valencia Orange Zest for the White IPA? I quickly answered, "We are thinking the same - that's perfect."

Lemon thyme or tomillo limón is in the WIPA from Mateo & Bernabé
Lemon thyme or tomillo limón is in the WIPA from Mateo & Bernabé

This WIPA will be:

  • About 7% ABV
  • About 41 IBU
  • Under 5 SRM (9 EBC) - light color and slightly cloudy
  • Blossoming with hop aromas and flavors

This is another beer, like the DIPA we brewed, that will be an awakening for the Spanish Craft Beer market. And I salute Alberto of Mateo & Bernabé for the bravery and forward thinking he is showing, to bring the leading edge interpretation of the Double IPA and White IPA to Spain.

Again, this beer is a special release and may not make it to the USA as an import. I envy you my Spanish friends. You will get to drink it.

Un Abrazo,