A White IPA combines the flavour profile of a Belgian Witbier with complimentary new world hops as found in American IPAs. Bright citrus fruit flavours, slightly spicy, and very refreshing. The perfect summer IPA!
It's a style that was first brewed in 2010 as a collaboration between craft brewers Deschutes and Boulevard Brewery by combining Deschutes' knowledge of hops with Boulevard's expertise in brewing Belgian wheat beers.
The two beers, brewed separately and differently by each brewery, were an immediate hit amongst craft beer drinkers. By 2015 craft breweries had been creating their own Witbier / IPA combinations in such volumes that BJCP officially added the style under the 'Speciality IPA' category.
Brewing the perfect White IPA is all about balance, ensuring that neither the Witbier or American IPA traits dominate. You shouldn't feel that you're drinking a high ABV Witbier, or a wheat based American IPA. The hopping level in our recipe is a bit restrained (0.85 bitterness units to gravity units) as compared to some aggressively hopped IPAs as we don't want the hops to completely dominate the spicy yeast esters or the crackery malt backbone traditionally found in a Witbier. A balanced approach to water adjustment also helps keep the hops in check. We're not looking to accentuate hop bitterness / dryness with high sulfate and low chloride through our 'Hoppy' profile used in traditional American IPAs, nor are we looking to do the opposite through our 'Hoppy New England' profile which accentuates flavours over bitterness / dryness. A White IPA is all about balance.
Given its Witbier lineage, many White IPA recipes will call for crushed coriander seed along with the zest of fresh (or dried) oranges. We find that much of the spicy flavour behind a Belgian Wit already comes from the yeast (White Labs WLP400 Belgian Wit Ale or Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier) so we don't tend to use any spices when we brew this beer. The choice is yours.
One easy way to try both ways without actually brewing the beer twice is as follows:
- Brew the recipe as listed but omit the coriander and orange peel from the boil.
- Once the beer is done fermenting, make a tea with the coriander and orange peel by boiling them in a cup or two of water for 5 minutes.
- Slowly add the tea to a pint of beer with eye dropper or syringe (without needle), a few drops at a time, stirring gently and tasting.
- If you prefer the results with the spices, add a little bit at a time to the entire batch, stirring gently, until the taste is where you like it.
Remember that you can't remove spices once added so go slowly, and depending on the age of the coriander seed and orange peel you use, the amount of flavour imparted can vary. For a variation, try fresh bitter orange peel instead of dried. Make sure to only use the outside skin of the orange, none of the inner (white) pith as that tends to be bitter.
Some commercial White IPA examples will exhibit a touch of tartness or slight acidity which can add a quenching / refreshing quality, complimenting the citrus notes. If this is something you'd like try, substitute 2-4% of the base pilsner malt with acidulated malt. Another option that doesn't commit the entire batch to a pre-set amount is to add 88% lactic acid to the beer after fermentation is done, before kegging. All is takes is around 2-4 ml of acid per 5 gallons of beer. Go sparingly adding 0.5 ml at a time with a syringe (without needle) until the taste is to your liking. You can also use this method to do a trial run to see if you like the results: Once the beer is kegged and on tap, add one to two drops with an eye dropper to a 16 oz glass of beer and see what you think. One drop per 16 oz is equivalent to 2 ml in 5 gallons. Careful not to overdo it! We tend to enjoy our White IPA as is, and forgo any acidulated malt or lactic acid.
Our recipe calls for Belgian pilsner malt but feel free to substitute your favourite pilsner malt if you like (Weyermann German pilsner malt works wonderfully). Try and avoid yeast or hop substitutions however as it's easy to produce results that will clash horribly. The hops were chosen as they work well with the slightly spicy Belgian Witbier yeast.
Brew up a batch and let us know how you like it!
Size: 12 US gallons (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Calories: 221 kcal per 12 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.067 (style range: 1.056 - 1.065)
Final Gravity: 1.013 (style range: 1.010 - 1.016)
Colour: 4.2 SRM (style range: 5 - 8)
Alcohol: 7% ABV (style range: 5.5% - 7.0%)
Bitterness: 57 IBU (style range: 40 - 70)
14 lb Belgian pilsner malt (1.4-1.8L)* (57.1%)
5 lb Pale (or white) wheat malt (1.5-2.4L) (20.4%)
4.5 lb Flaked wheat (1-2L) (18.4%)
1 lb Flaked oats (1-1.5L) (4.1%)
1.25 lb Rice hulls**
2.5 oz Bravo hops (14.5%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min [56.6 IBU]
1 Whirlfloc tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
3 oz Bitter orange peel - added during boil, boiled 5 min (optional - see text)
1 oz Crushed coriander seed - added during boil, boiled 5 min (optional - see text)
3.5 oz Citra hops (12.8%) - added to fermenter near the end of fermentation, steeped 3-5 days
2.5 oz Centennial hops 11.2%) - added to fermenter near the end of fermentation, steeped 3-5 days
2.5 oz Cascade hops (6.3%) - added to fermenter near the end of fermentation, steeped 3-5 days
*Can't find Belgian pilsner malt? German pilsner malt (1.5-2.1L) will make an excellent White IPA as well.
**Wheat and flaked oats do not have a husk so the natural filter bed in the Mash / Lauter Tun is greatly reduced as the recipe is almost 50% wheat and flaked oats. Brewers with systems that are prone to stuck sparges should add rice hulls at a rate of about 20:1 wheat to rice hull ratio to avoid stuck sparges. We do not need to use rice hulls with our electric brewery setup. More information.
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Notes / Process
- Add 500mg potassium metabisulfite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
- Water treated with brewing salts to our Balanced flavour profile: Ca=50, Mg=10, Na=16, Cl=70, SO4=70 (Hit minimums on Ca and Mg, keep the Cl:SO4 ratio low and equal. Do not favour flavour / maltiness or bitterness / dryness. For balanced beers.). While this is an IPA, the goal is a more balanced beer than the hop forward American counterparts so we don't go sulfate heavy as we would with our Hoppy flavour profile. We want a balanced beer here where the hops do not overload the spicy yeast esters or the crackery malt backbone. For more information on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
- 1.5 qt/lb mash thickness.
- Mash at 122F for 15 mins, then raise to 152F and hold for an additional 90 mins.
- Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
- If your system does not allow for step mashes, try a single infusion mash at 150F for 90 mins, followed by a mashout to 168F for 10 mins (if possible).
- ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature).
- Boil for 90 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. Lid on at flameout after post-boil hops are added, start chilling immediately.
- Cool the wort quickly to 68F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
- Oxygenate the chilled wort to a level of 14 ppm dissolved oxygen. For more information refer to our Aerating / Oxygenating Wort guide.
- Pitch yeast and ferment at 68F (wort temperature) for the first 2/3 and then raise the temperature to 72F until finished. We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges and simply turn off the fridges, allowing the beer to naturally rise to room temperature.
- Add dry hops once fermentation is nearing completion (i.e. 5 points from final gravity). Steep hops for ~3 days while fermentation finishes. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over ~3 days.
- There is no need to use finings such as unflavoured gelatin.
- Package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2 and then chill the kegs to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. In a hurry? Feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. Some hop bits will have invariably made their way into the keg during transfer so we use a Hop Stopper Keg Edition filter to ensure that hops do not clog the dip tube and/or end up in the glass. There's no need to wait a few days for any hop bits that made their way into the keg to first settle out. Force carbonating at high pressure and using a Hop Stopper filter allows us to serve this beer 24 hours after kegging.
- Carbonate this beer to higher than normal levels, around 2.5 to 3.5 volumes of CO2.
- If you keg, you will find that over time the beer naturally clears as the protein haze and yeast settles. You may occasionally jostle or flip the keg to stir up the sediment to re-introduce the cloudy appearance. Some brewers will use a spare liquid out dip tube on the gas line such that the incoming gas hits the bottom of the keg and automatically stirs up the sediment every time a beer is poured. Others will use a tablespoon or two of flour at the end of the boil to set up a starchy permanent haze. The simplest solution is probably the most popular: Consume quicker. 😉
For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.
Questions? Visit our White IPA forum thread.
Pictures / Videos
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