The New Beer of Tomorrow, White IPA. Another new one?
The first thing I must say is that I am not opposed to any of the great beer coming our way. I especially like the beer “styles” that these “pundits” keep pushing as the “next big beer” in the craft scene. Sorry for all the quotation marks in that last one. I just, kind of wonder; what the heck is motivating them to make these pointless prognostications? Do they get some lame satisfaction when they can brag to all twelve of their readers that they were the “first” to predict that Black IPA would be all the rage, still?
As a pretty well certified hop head, anything that can be done to beer to make it hoppier is OK with me. Sticking to the Black iPA (often MISTAKENLY referred to as Cascadian IPA), this is actually a style that dates back to 1994. Glenn Walter, assistant brewer at Vermont Pub and Brewery, asked to make a one off that was new. He “was going through a divorce at the time, so I wanted to brew something that expressed what I was feeling.” Gotta love the creativity in the brewing community. Dark, bitter, perfect.
Anyway, back in the Pacific northwest, some writer dude, or blogger, whatever, was trying to push the Cascadian IPA concept, essentially trying to take credit for it. But this was about 2004. The Blackwatch IPA was a standard menu item at the V.P. & B for a decade. There became enough interest in the style, in fact, that it became a category at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010, known as the Black IPA, NOT Cascadian IPA.
I guess achieving GABFest status gives these blogger types some new level of excitement. I just wonder if any of them are over 30 years old. That would make them about nine when the style was created, and oft replicated. Perhaps they should spend time trying to tell us where the next Nashville hot spot will be for growth and development. That would be interesting.
So, now we are being told that White IPA is the new beer of tomorrow. At least this is a legitimately new “style.” This one is generally accepted to have been created by a collaboration between Deschutes Brewery and Boulevard Brewing in 2010 with Conflux #2. Larry Sidor, former head brewer at Deschutes, is legendary in the hop community, in addition to the beer community, two different communities, actually. He got together with Steven Pauwels and his Belgian and wheat expertise at Boulevard to create something new.
The idea was to start with a Belgian wit style, which is often known for large portions of unmalted wheat, sometimes with pils malt, to create a beer with lighter body and color. It is often spiced with coriander and orange peel lending a tart, spicy note to balance the Belgian yeast. Unfortunately, probably the best known version of this beer is Blue Moon. Try Hoegaarden instead, kids.
The next step is simple, as far as I am concerned. Lay in bushels of big west coast hops and turn it into a real beer. Well, to be fair, not all of the versions of White IPA are super big hoppy beers. And, to be clear, I’m not saying that Belgian wit isn’t a real beer. The style, like every other style of beer ever made, allows for the brewer to be creative and add his own nuance. That is why you should typically never say that a beer doesn’t fit a specific style. Generally speaking, a style, technically and officially, allows great latitude. However, as I have said before, that is why there is no such thing, technically and officially, as a Session IPA. It doesn’t fit the proscribed ABV range for an IPA. It is just a hoppy Pale ale. Get over it. But I digress.
The reality, however, is that White IPA beers do tend to be on the hoppy side. For the most part they are between about 50-60 IBU and at or above six on the ABV scale. Sweetwater just came out with Whiplash White IPA at a healthy 6.2% 55 IBU. The slogan is “what happens when a 500 year old Belgian style ale gets rear ended by a truckload of pompous American hops? It equals one heck of an ambulance chaser of a beer.” Love it.
On a local note, our great friends at Yazoo Brewing Company made a superbly wonderful White IPA as their official Tenth Anniversary beer. That was one of the best beers I have ever had, and the taproom regulars absolutely clamored for it. In fact, when it was nearly entirely consumed from stock, which was about 60 barrels worth, there was a crowd at the bar that watched the last drops pour. It was a sad and somber moment.
The reason they went with the White IPA is an interesting story. And it wasn’t because white IPA is the Beer of Tomorrow. It turns out that one of the first beers Yazoo made was a Summer Wheat, a simple wheat without the spices often added to wit beers. Apparently the regulars back then liked it so much that they kept asking for it to be made again. That wasn’t able to happen, though, due to demand for other beer and production limitations.
With IPA beers leading the growth of craft beer, it seemed like it would be fun to use something similar to that original summer wheat malt base and combine it with the big hops available today. The big hops they used are Citra and Mosaic, both fairly new hops, and both fairly wonderful.
There is great news, though, about Yazoo’s White IPA. First, the beer that replaced it on tap is Hop Project #75. Thanks to brewer Josh Lightell, with a hop bill consisting of Warrior, Mosaic, and experimental Hop #05256, Hop Project #75 is one of the best beers I have ever had. Hey, I can have more than one favorite!
The other great news is that the White Ipa will be back soon. In fact, it looks like they got label approval today so they can bottle and sell that great beer. I prefer draft, though, so I’ll be in the taproom.
On a final note, I am going to predict the next Beer of Tomorrow. (Drum roll). It is going to be, dramatic pause, longer dramatic pause, IPA! And by that, I mean just regular old India Pale Ale. Not black, not white, not copper, regular IPA. But wait, I have evidence! In the craft beer market, well, the whole beer market, the biggest growth of any style is, you guessed it, IPA. Again. Still. Up twenty percent this year. Oh, and second in growth, by the way, is Seasonal. Thirteen percent. Not black, not white, not, oh, you get it.
So, the moral of this long soliloquy is don’t let someone tell what the next new bestest biggest thing is or is going to be. Go out and find it for yourself. Better yet, if it is beer, go out and try them all, for yourself, and tell them what the next thing is, which is either the last beer you ordered, or the next. Either way…
See you at the pub. Cheers!