White IPAs are a hybrid of the hop-forward American IPA and the traditional Belgian wit style.
Called Amero-Belgo ales under the Brewers Association Guidelines, white IPAs use wit yeast or another Belgian strain of yeast to provide a medium to high amount of yeast-driven flavors in the beer. The Amero in the name denotes that the flavor will also be influenced by American hops. White IPAs are a little more complicated to brew, because you can’t use “all the hops” like you might in an American IPA.
Crank Arm has a firm handle on this balance, as its Whitewall Wheat won a gold medal this year in Denver at the Great American Beer Festival, the largest beer festival in the world. The award follows a bronze win for the beer at the 2016 festival.
For the award-winning beer, the brewers use a traditional wheat malt and Belgian yeast, typical of wit style beers, but they don’t add coriander or orange zest. Instead, Whitewall Wheat gets its citrusy flavor from American Citra hops.
Whitewall Wheat is a yellow beer with a slight haze that makes the beer translucent, not transparent. The foam has an ivory hue with tight bubbles, and it dissipates quickly from the growler but is easily reformed when the beer is roused.
The beer is full of flavor for 4.4 percent ABV (alcohol by volume). As you bring it to your mouth to take a sip, the first perception is pineapple and black pepper with a smooth transition to white pine resin, sage and white pepper — like black pepper but with more spiciness that doesn’t linger long. Whitewall has a medium-light body with a dry, astringent finish as you would expect from a dry-hopped beer. There is warmth from the spiciness of the yeast but not the alcohol.
This beer is great to drink any time of the year, with a low ABV and the hop presence making it a great summer beer, but the spiciness lending itself well to winter drinking. It is easy to see why this one is a winner.