How To Brew White IPA | Homebrew Challenge

by Steve Thanos | Last Updated: March 20, 2021

White IPA is the collision, marriage, mashup, or simply an amalgamation between two defined beer styles; the American IPA and the Belgain Wit.

The high hop character of the American IPA is meshed with the spicy and refreshing nuances of the Belgian Wit.

This new style was conceived during a collaboration brew day between two professional brewers. Larry Sidor of Deschutes Brewing Company and Belgian-born Steven Pauwels of Boulevard Brewing Company teamed up to collaborate on a beer. 

The Collaboration

With Deschutes being well-known for their hoppy beers and Boulevard being well established with their wheat beers, farmhouse styles, and Belgian-inspired beers, the idea of a collaboration between the two seems like a match made in beery heaven.

The original beer recipe contained lemongrass, white sage, coriander, and orange peel. Each brewer then produced their own version of the beer at their own brewery.  

The Results are In!

Deschutes called their beer Conflux Series No. 2 and Boulevard’s version was called Collaboration No. 2, which was included in their Smoke House Series. A buzz was created from these two beers.

Soon these two beers were a smashing success and a new beer style was created. In 2015, Gordon Strong included this style in the newly updated 2015 styles guidelines. 

Style Profile for White IPA

Appearance

White IPAs are often hazy, with a color ranging from gold to deep pale in color. Usually there is a moderate to large, long-lasting white head with dense bubbles.  

Aroma

The aroma consists of medium spice aromas with coriander and/or pepper usually being the dominant spice. The spice comes from the spice additions and the hard working Belgian yeast that is present in this style.

Some fruity esters of banana, citrus, apricot are usually noticeable. Hop aromas are low to moderate with such qualities as citrus, tropical, and stone fruit deriving from American or New World hop varieties.

Low clove-like phenolics are also acceptable. 

Flavor

Bready, light malt flavors with moderate to high fruity esters. Grapefruit and orange are common as well as stone fruit. Bananas may also be present.

Clove and spicy flavors are possible due to the Beligian yeast. Hop bitterness is high with hop flavors being in the med-high to med-low range. Finish is dry and refreshing. 

Mouthfeel

Medium to mid-high carbonation is acceptable. There is very little astringency, but if a version is highly spiced then there will be higher astringency. This should never be a distraction. 

Food Pairing

A good White IPA can pair well with French onion soup, tomato soup, or pasta salad. Spicy foods such as Indian, Asian, or Mexican can all pair nicely.

The old reliable dishes such as Rueben sandwich, pizza, grilled steak, spicy sausage, chile rellenos, smoked salmon, tacos, jerk chicken, and curry dishes are all great choices to pair. 

Cheese such as blue, smoked gouda, sharp aged cheddar, White IPA. Desserts that consist of spice cakes, citrus tart, or spiced rice pudding all pair nicely here too. 

Tips for Brewing your own White IPA

Grain

Usually a grain bill of equal amount of  Belgian pilsner malt and unmalted wheat malt is where to start. Aim for a Belgian pilsner malt, but a German pilsner malt would do as well.

To enhance the flavor and mouthfeel, add 5-10% of flaked oats. For the bready quality and some additional complexity, under 5% of Munich or aroma malt can be added.

Hops

American hops really should be showcased in this beer. A traditional bittering charge at 60 minutes is a nice place to start with your hop schedule.

Something like Chinook or Simcoe will give the beer a nice bitterness.

After bittering hops, the sky’s the limit with how much or little hops you want to add. Cascade, Citra, Columbus, Centennial, Amarillo is always a good way to start when thinking about the hop schedule. If adding rye to the grain bill, Mosaic makes for a decent choice. 

Hopping with New World hops like Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin or any of your favorite hops from New Zealand or Australia will work here too.

Dry hopping is very common with the style and encouraged to extract more hop aroma and flavor in your beer. 

Yeast

The yeast for a White IPA is usually the same as for a Belgian Wit. White Labs Belgian Wit Ale WLP400, Wyeast Belgian Witbier #3944, or SafBrew Ale Yeast T-58 are all safe choices here. 

Spices

Traditionally, Belgian Wit beers are spiced with coriander and bitter orange peel. This idea has carried over to the White IPA.

Use a restrained hand when adding the coriander and bitter orange peel. A little goes a long way. Crack the coriander seeds, don’t crush them. Add both spices with five minutes left in the boil. 

White IPA the By the Numbers

  • Color Range: 5 – 7 SRM
  • Original Gravity: 1.056 – 1.065 OG
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 – 1.016 FG
  • IBU Range: 40 – 70
  • ABV Range: 5.5 – 7.0%

Martin Keen’s White IPA Recipe

Grain

  • 45 %            6 lbs             Pilsner; Belgian   
  • 45 %            6 lbs             Wheat, Unmalted
  •   8 %            1 lb               Flaked Oats
  •   2 %            4 oz              Acidulated malt

Hops

  • 1.00 oz         Centennial – Boil – 60 min
  • 1.00 oz         Orange Peel, Bitter – Boil – 15 min
  • 1.00 oz         Amarillo – Boil – 10 min
  • 1.00 oz         Pacific Jade – Boil – 10 min 
  • 1.00 oz         Pacific Jade – Boil – Flameout

Yeast

  1. 1.0 pkg   Belgian Witbier Wyeast #3944
  2. Mash at 152°F (66°C) for 60 mins
  3. Boil for 60 mins 

Transcript: Take an American IPA and combine it with a Belgian whit beer. And you’ve got yourself, a white IPA, and this one’s going to be an interesting one to brew.

We’ve got a step mash to deal with and some spices to add. Let’s do it.

How’s it going? My name’s Martin Keen and I’m taking the Homebrew Challenge to brew 99 beers in 99 nine weeks. And most of the beer styles that I brew well, they have quite a established and long history sometimes like going back centuries.

Today’s style, white IPA goes back to 2010. It was a collaboration beer between the chutes and the Boulevard breweries. And they came up with this style in 2015, it was adopted by the BJCP guidelines.

And in 2020, it was brewed by the Homebrew challenge.

In terms of ingredients what I’m building here is a beer with an original gravity of about 1.064, which will give about a 6.4% ABV. In terms of the base malts, I’m using two. 45% of the grist is going to use Belgium Pilsner malt, and the other 45% of the grist to make up my base malts.

Well, that is going to be unmalted wheat. So this is just raw wheat grains. And that’s going to have an impact on how we brew this beer, which I’ll get to in a sec. Then I’m using 8% of flaked oats for a bit of mouthfeel and body, and 2% of acidulated malt.

Now, because I am using unmalted wheat, that means that my usual single infusion mesh is not going to convert all of that wheat in this beer. So I’m going to need to perform a step mash.

Step Mash

So what I’m going to do is I’m going to mash this bit at two different temperatures. I’m going to start at 130 Fahrenheit and then move on to my main mash temperature of 153 Fahrenheit. So I’ve got the water heated to 130 to get us started. Let’s add in the grains.

Not forgetting my flaked oats which were not milled. Okay.

So I will now start the pump and we’re going to maintain this temperature of 130, or actually just bring it up to 130 first of all, but maintain that for about 20 minutes.

Oh, and by the way, this does bring up another interesting point. Normally, when I use a lot of wheat malt, I use rice hulls to avoid getting a stuck mash. Um, but people are telling me in the comments that actually, I don’t need to do that with this system because it’s got this basket in here and it’s a brew in the bag system.

So I shouldn’t really be worried about anything getting stuck. So I have, uh, perhaps foolishly not added any rice hulls, despite having a huge bucket of them here in the brewery. Let’s see how that works out.

It’s been 20 minutes now, the protein rest is complete at 49 Celsius or 120 Fahrenheit. Time to move on to our sacrification temperature, which is 153 Fahrenheit or 67 Celsius.

Um, this is flowing very well, no signs of stuck mash, but living up to its name of pretty pale white.

So this is like having an electric brewing system makes step mashing super easy. I’m not having to heat up extra water and bring it in or anything like that. I can just press some buttons. So I’m going to set my temperature controller now to 153F. We’ll probably maintain this temperature for about an hour, but I will keep an eye on my pre boil gravity. When I get to 10 54, then I know that the mash is done.

At that point I will do one more temperature adjustment, which is my usual mash out. That’s done at 168 Fahrenheit or 76 Celsius. I just hold it at that temperature for about 10 minutes.

That was heavy. Well, I have really struggled to get this to convert the way that I wanted to. I’m 90 minutes into my mash. Now I did move to a mash out at 168 Fahrenheit. Um, but when I take a pre-boil gravity reading, I’m getting a reading of 1.043.

I was looking for 10 54 and this really took a long time to do anything. Uh, as soon as I started my main mash at 153, I took a pre-boil gravity reading and I was at almost nothing. And, uh, it’s just really gone slowly from there.

So I’ve kind of given up at 10 43. Um, I think what this will ultimately mean is I’m going to have a beer that’s going to be about percentage less than alcohol that I planned.

As for the reason why, well, almost half of the grist here was raw wheat unmalted wheat. And, uh, I think that was just a little bit too much.

So I’m going to bring this up to boil now. And while this is heating up, let’s talk a little bit about the hops.

Hops

Looking at an IBU of around 66 for this beer. Sounds like it’s going to be quite bitter, but it’s actually going to really focus on a lot of that citrusy kind of hot additions to this.

So first of all, we’re going to start with Centennial. I have one ounce of Centennial, which I will put in at the start of the boil. Then with 15 minutes to go, I’m going to add some bitter orange peel. Now, yeah, this is clearly invoking Belgian wit styles here.

And, uh, I think this is an important addition to add in. So I have one ounce of bitter orange peel I’ll be adding into the boil with 15 minutes to go.

With 10 minutes to go I have some flavor hops, which will really bring out some of the citrusy flavor. So I have Amarillo and I also have New Zealand Pacific Jade, which the packet describes as giving mussy fruit like Mellon, lime and blood orange. So that’s going in at 10 minutes also.

And then for the aroma at zero minutes, or flame out, another bag of Pacific Jade.

Chilled the wort and transferring it now in to my fermentor. It is super cloudy, much cloudier than usual, which you would expect from using raw or unmalted wheat. In terms of my original gravity, well, yeah, I did not reach 10 64 due to my mash efficiency issues.

So I am actually at 10 52 for my original gravity.

Yeast

Belgian yeast is what you’re going to want to use. I’m using Belgium whitbier. This is Wyeast 3944. I’m going to ferment this one fairly cool. So sort of mid sixties Fahrenheit initially, and then warm it up to really build up some of those esters a few days into fermentation.

Got to say, I am looking forward to giving this one a try.

This one’s come out cloudy. It has! Cannot see through that at all. It’s very, very hazy looking. Yeah. This looks just what I was hoping for.

Fantastic job at the pour there. Yeah. You got a little bubble gun on yours. Yes.

Yeah. Really, really, really cloudy looking beer. Um, let’s see if we get anything on the aroma for all these hops that are in here. Smells quite mellow.

Yeah. I’m getting some, I’m getting some fruity hops, but also that kind of Belgian smell that you get with like a Belgium whit or something like that. I could, I could see that it definitely actually definitely has a whit smelling scent to it. I’m trying to smell it.

Well, I am very excited to give this one a go it’s a, let’s go for the taste. Okay. It tastes really light for an IPA.

Yeah. It’s light refreshing, um, a little bit of spice and fruitiness in there. This is a real summer drink. It is definitely not summer right now, but this is a warm weather drink.

Oh, for sure. Um, because you said like German and or Belgian, I could taste that. Is it meant to taste like that? It uses Belgian Yeast So yep. That would make sense, smells a bit, a bit like orange peel. Does it?

A little bit, well funny you should mention that. It does use bitter orange peel in there. Okay. Um, it’s definitely not overly orange the beer, but definitely bitter. I think you can get that bitterness out of the peal for sure.

We’ll that’s where I’m getting that tarnish flavor. Yeah.

Do you have a favorite IPA so far? Actually my favorite IPA has been the RYE IPA. You know, I was pleasantly shocked with that one. I thought it was going to be awful, honestly, just with the name, but it was quite nice.

It had a good flavor, a good aroma. And you christened it with a good name. Yeah ryePA I cannot ever forget that now. Cause it just, it just blends so well.

This does conclude category 21, which was all of the IPA’s, but uh, we are staying with the IPA style in next week’s beer in category 22, uh, just with something a bit more on the strong side. Okay. Hmm. Interesting. So until then, Cheers!

I am the former President of my homebrew club, Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL. I brew on my BIAB system with my incredibly patient and understanding wife, adorable 9 year old daughter, and 12 year old brew dog.