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White IPAs: Failed Experiment or Too Early to Tell

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by spoonhawk, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. spoonhawk

    spoonhawk Savant (370) Iowa Dec 3, 2010

    So, I have had a few "white IPAs" now. And broadly speaking, I have been underwhelmed by what I have had. Now I understand the experimental value of hopping up traditionally less hopped styles. However, I think it is fair to say that some base styles do not lend themselves to this sort of hybridization.

    Now I have had some more heavily hopped wheat beers before, that are first and foremost wheat beers, and enjoyed them quite a lot -- the now defunct C'racked Wheat from New Glarus comes to mind. Yet, these new white IPAs appear to be a bread of beer all their own (and in my less than humble opinion, a poorer one).

    So my question to the community is: Are white IPAs simply an inferior conception, or is it a style that is too early in its existence to declare it a failed experiment-- i.e. brewers will find a way to perfect the style such that it can competently compete with core styles?
    Zorro and alex_hart like this.
  2. kcbaby

    kcbaby Savant (315) Massachusetts Jun 30, 2010 Beer Trader

    I'd say it's too early to tell. Founders/Green Flash Linchpin was pretty good, Deschutes Chain Breaker is ok. Can't think of many others - I'd say we need a greater sample size to make a decision.
    cnbrown313 and alex_hart like this.
  3. Derranged

    Derranged Advocate (535) New York Mar 7, 2010

    Does SA Whitewater IPA count as one?

    Twas the only one I had and I liked it.
    Geuzedad, kingofhop, szmnnl99 and 2 others like this.
  4. rgordon

    rgordon Advocate (590) North Carolina Apr 26, 2012 Verified

    I think the original Southampton Double White was more on track. Nice subtle towards bigger wit ale, with kick. Haven't had it in years.
  5. I think we need to first dilineate what a White IPA is. I hear a lot of people refer to IPAs brewed with wheat as, "White IPAs," but Deschutes and a couple other breweries confused everything by coming out with beers like Chainbreaker and implying that a White IPA is a hoppy Belgian Wit, and should be spiced with coriander, orange peal, etc.
    For me, the latter have been trainwrecks. I really didn't like Chainbreaker and found that the spices and the hops severely clashed.
    That said, a number of breweries have recently come out with incredible IPAs that feature a lot of wheat in the mash. Almost everyone will agree that Pupil is a world-class beer. The most recent batches of El Segundo White Dog have been killer, and they use 50% wheat in their mash. I believe a number of other breweries have been doing similar things to great effect. The wheat can add a wonderful body, effervescence, and almost hint of flavor that can balance out the dry pils-malt base that is becoming so popular in San Diego and with beers like Zombie Dust. I think we'll see the trend continue.
  6. Hophead21

    Hophead21 Savant (365) Pennsylvania Sep 19, 2013 Beer Trader

    I had Saranac's white IPA the other night, thought it was decent.
  7. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,390) Washington Sep 24, 2007 Beer Trader

    Fail. I think the high hops and Belgian-y yeasts do not play well together.
  8. superspak

    superspak Poobah (1,250) Michigan May 5, 2010 Beer Trader

    I love white IPAs personally. Best ones I have had are Blue Point White IPA, Anchorage Galaxy, Boulevard Collab #2(was absolutely insane), Harpoon 100 Barrel

    I made one myself last year with Zythos and Ahtanum hops. One of the best beers I have made to date, everyone raved about it. It was the first beer that I did water chemistry.

  9. Goosey

    Goosey Aficionado (240) Missouri Jan 18, 2012

    I've only had two white IPA's, Boulevard's Reboot, and New Belgium's Accumulation. Boulevard was the clear winner, though I appreciate Accumulation for creating a fresh take on the IPA that I can sit and drink all day long. I very much enjoy what white IPA's bring to the table, taking everything we all know and love about witbier's and integrating that into an IPA. I'm always happy to drink a new combination of flavors that I have never had before. Keep em' coming.
    MSmooth likes this.
  10. Had the new Accumulation Winter seasonal from New Belgium earlier, definitely not a failure.
  11. Ri0

    Ri0 Poobah (1,120) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012 Beer Trader

    Not to mention lack of malt. Not a fan.
    beertunes likes this.
  12. EdH

    EdH Aficionado (230) Utah Jul 27, 2005

    I'll go with "successful experiment"; although definitely, not every combination of Belgian yeast and hop varieties is going to work.
    luwak likes this.
  13. gatornation

    gatornation Poobah (1,180) Minnesota Apr 18, 2007 Beer Trader

    like them the 2 that come to mind as my favorites
    Boulevard #2
    Anchorage Bitter Monk
    luwak likes this.
  14. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Champion (855) North Carolina May 13, 2011 Beer Trader

    I really like white IPAs, particularly Blue Point's take on the style.
    cestlavie and Kanger like this.
  15. Not really a white IPA though, just an IPA with a reference to snow on the label making it "white". I'm really confused with their choice of naming that beer actually.

    An IPA with some wheat in the mash is just an IPA. Brewers have been doing that since American IPA has been a thing. To me, a "white IPA" has to be a wit/IPA mashup. Of course that could change over time if enough brewers decide to make the high-wheat-mash IPA the new white IPA. For now, it's the Spiced Belgian IPA that has won out.
  16. luwak

    luwak Savant (395) Arizona Mar 2, 2010 Beer Trader

    I like it.

    One of the few new styles that isn't a disaster in my opinion (see coffee ipa, black saison) . Plus makes great gateway beer. Some people still turned off by too much hops but bored by AAL and Pale/Euro lagers and curious about more fully flavored beers seem to like them.
    Deschutes Chainbreaker was a huge hit among some people I work with who fall in to the above-described category.
    I think this style could help pay the rent for breweries who want to do other daring things.

    And for the rest of us here at BA: if more beers like Anchorage Galaxy White IPA come along everybody wins.
    mpyoung215 likes this.
  17. Jewmagic151

    Jewmagic151 Aficionado (125) Kansas May 31, 2013

    Too early to tell but I will say I'm not happy that new Belgium did away with snow day for a white ipa
  18. nc41

    nc41 Champion (855) North Carolina Sep 25, 2008 Beer Trader

    I don't like the Belgian twist to what should be a simple brew. IPA's are about the hops not the yeast, malt whatever.
  19. BeerWizard

    BeerWizard Savant (370) Colorado Dec 22, 2012

    Hmmm...I liked the Chainbreaker from Deschutes, and most recently had the Accumulation from NB. Current verdict though is that I could really take it or leave it, and would probably rather have just a straight sweet wheat over a hoppy one.
  20. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Champion (860) Michigan May 8, 2006

    Never had one I liked, never one that even made me think of drinking again. They can fade into oblivion at any time now.
  21. lightman1

    lightman1 Savant (275) Arkansas Oct 19, 2013 Beer Trader

    About 10 minutes ago, my wife walked in with 2 New Belgium Accumulations that my son sent me. The label reads White India Pale Ale, but calls it a Winter Seasonal. I'll give it a taste test, tomorrow. Lightman1
  22. I hate em. JMO
  23. Hess Flightpath for Bottle craft, white IPA. It was AMAZING
  24. TommyLiam

    TommyLiam Savant (265) Arizona Jun 10, 2013

    I don't hate them but I don't remember the last time I spent money on one either.

    I'd say that White IPAs are less an unique experiment than a sideshow in the great hop wad that everyone is shooting off in the US. People will hop the shit out of anything they can these days because hop heads will drink almost anything with enough hops in it. You could bottle fermented dog shit and mustard gas and still sell it, as long as it had 87,000 lbs of quintuple hopped Simcoe and Cascade rammed into dry hop tanks and whirlpool gizmos. Enjoy by yesterday.

    Like most sub-styles of so-called "IPA" there are some good ones and some really bad ones and a whole lot of stylistic space in between most of them. I think it'll probably fall off but you never know. Once US brewers convince themselves they can make good beers reminiscent of classic Belgians with having to call them "Belgian style" then the scene will open up some.
    TickleMeTony likes this.
  25. Dupage25

    Dupage25 Savant (375) Antarctica Jul 4, 2013

    Don't know; never had one. I am mildly curious to try one but to be honest, I feel like most hop varieties would completely destroy the base wit unless it was completely post-boil hops (meaning it was nothing but dry-hopped, no bittering). And even there I think it would be extremely hard to make the spices even noticeable.

    Also, let's be honest: most wits could have all of their hops removed and nobody would miss them. In fact, I think the historical wits that inspired the modern ones were hop-free. Some of these beers probably don't even measure 10 IBU. So let's say you could get the hops noticed by bumping it up to 20 or 30 IBU's. How many people here would consider a 20 IBU beer an anything-IPA? And if it gets any higher, will you even be able to taste the coriander and orange peel (and if you can't, then it really isn't "white" right)?

    Yeah, this is my thinking too. Beers like Little Sumpin Sumpin really do not taste appreciably different from an IPA. Actually, that particular example is indistinguishable from an IPA. Hell, let's just be blunt---it is an IPA.

    White IPA has to mean a spiced hoppy beer which is as light-bodied as a wit (within reason). Otherwise, it's just an IPA with a special grain added in, like oatmeal stouts or rye porters. In order to be white it has to resemble a white ale.
    LambicPentameter likes this.
  26. russpowell

    russpowell Poobah (1,325) Oklahoma May 24, 2005 Beer Trader

    Loved the collab#2
  27. Givemebeer

    Givemebeer Advocate (535) Vermont Apr 6, 2013

    Thats how I feel about every Saranac beer. Decent. Nothing great, but not often bad.
  28. elNopalero

    elNopalero Advocate (695) Texas Oct 14, 2009

    If 'White IPA' means 'Belgo-IPA' then I'm sold.
    Skye1024 likes this.
  29. drewone

    drewone Champion (840) California Sep 18, 2006 Beer Trader

    First thought was white dog - I think one of El Segundo best beers. Not a fan of Belgian yeast with IPA's.
  30. I've only had two: Chainbreaker, and one from Black Diamond (Concord, CA). I thought they were pretty good, actually. Not great, but better than most IPAs I've tried.
  31. Jake1605

    Jake1605 Initiate (0) Missouri Nov 24, 2009

    I don't care for the style, but New Belgium Accumulation was very nice.
    nickapalooza86 likes this.
  32. Why is it that if we don't like a beer (or a style) then it's "inferior" or "failed"? Why can't we just say "I don't care for it, but obviously others do"?
  33. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Champion (880) New Jersey Oct 27, 2010 Beer Trader

    Raging Bitch would beg to differ.
    blbarnett3 and szmnnl99 like this.
  34. Skye1024

    Skye1024 Savant (360) Indiana Oct 3, 2009

    What, if any, is the difference between white IPAs and Belgian IPAs? I can only think of one beer I've had that was branded a white IPA(White Hatter) and I didn't care for it, but really like most of the Belgian IPAs I've had(Raging Bitch, Sumpin Wild to name a few).
  35. nc41

    nc41 Champion (855) North Carolina Sep 25, 2008 Beer Trader

    I don't like black IPAs either, sublimely self righteous is the exception
  36. ballenc

    ballenc Savant (340) Minnesota Sep 17, 2006 Verified

    If we're talking Belgian IPAs, I have really enjoyed the ones I've tried: Green Flash Le Freak, Raging Bitch, Chainbreaker, and Little Sumpin Wild (which I will be drinking in a few hours once the NFL games start)
    TickleMeTony likes this.
  37. Saranac's White IPA and SA's Whitewater IPA are good IMO. Others I've had have been meh.
  38. Dennoman

    Dennoman Advocate (525) Belgium Aug 20, 2011

    I've had some killer white IPA's, including homebrew. Any "genre" is as good as the best example you've tasted of it.

    Trashing an entire beer subtype or concept/idea just because you've had some terrible beers that would qualify as such is just completely ludicrous to me. Beer is so versatile, you'll always find some kind of configuration that works.

    Fuck, it's an IPA. When in doubt: more hops, right?
    ThirstyFace likes this.
  39. TickleMeTony

    TickleMeTony Savant (300) Colorado Sep 18, 2013

    Chainbreaker was severely disappointing in my opinion. I loved the idea of a white IPA or a "wit" IPA but upon drinking was let down by the results! The idea is there, and valid, but the way of perfecting it, and taking these belgian IPA's to the next level, is far from here.
  40. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Champion (940) Michigan Aug 29, 2012 Beer Trader

    I've always considered "White IPAs" to be a subset of Belgian IPAs. To me, they are like hopped-up takes on the classic Belgian Witbier style--the witbier spices are what make it "white" as opposed to just an IPA with a large wheat component to the grain bill. But since it's technically not it's own style, the beers that fit in this "hoppy wit" characteristic seem to be listed under two different styles--American IPA or Belgian IPA:
    • Deschutes Chainbreaker (Belgian IPA)
    • Anchorage Galaxy (Belgian IPA)
    • Boulevard Collaboration No. 2 - retired (Belgian IPA)
    • New Belgium Belgo - retired (Belgian IPA)
    • Boulevard Reboot (American IPA)
    • New Belgium Accumulation (American IPA)
    • Sam Adams Whitewater (American IPA)
    Then you have the variety of Belgian IPA that is more of a hoppy Tripel, with lots of fruity phenols and yeasty characteristics to complement the aggressive hop profile. While I love these beers, I don't think "white IPA" is an accurate description of how they taste:
    • Green Flash Le Freak
    • Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel
    • Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild
    • Flying Dog Raging Bitch
    • Piraat
    • Anchorage Bitter Monk
    • Sam Adams Grumpy Monk
    I enjoy both takes on the style, and like all of the beers I listed (in both lists) to varying degrees, so I have a hard time declaring the style a failure.

    It would be nice if those posters who have noted that they don't think the style is working (including the OP) would list some of the beers they've had in the style so that we can know from whence their experience comes...
    luwak and schwemjw like this.