Pros: Citrusy, spicy, very refreshing.
Cons: Only in the sampler for now.
Well, isn’t this interesting. Here it is spring of 2012 and we have something relatively new in the beer world. The novelty under consideration is a hybrid or fusion beer, combining the elements of White Ale and IPA. That would be remarkable enough on its own, but if you further consider the fact that two of the nation’s largest brewers have launched one this spring, why that’s even more amazing.
Under consideration today is Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA, a brew that Boston beer boasts has the “intense hop character of an IPA with the crisp spicy wheat character of a Belgian-style white ale.” I got mine in the 2012 Brewmasters collection 12-pack, which included two bottles each of the following:
Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA
Samuel Adams Mighty Oak Ale
Samuel Adams Alpine Spring
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Samuel Adams Irish Red
Samuel Adams Black Lager
The other White Ale IPA to be launched this spring is from Anheuser-Busch. It’s called Shock Top Wheat IPA and is also an IPA based on a Belgian styled witbier. I find it surprising that both of these major brewers should release such a beer at just about the same time. That said, I suppose it was only a matter of time before such a beer was concocted (maybe some smaller brewer did it a long time ago). After all, we have American IPA, British IPA, Double IPA, Imperial IPA, Belgian IPA….I could go on. There’s even Black IPA (really India Dark Ale), so one posits that there must be White IPA to balance that off.
OK, you say, enough with all that Bruguru, tell us more about this Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA. I will, but first let’s Boston Beer tell us a little. From the Sam Adams website:
Flavor: Crisp with a citrusy hop punch balanced by the subtle sweetness of apricots
Color: Hazy Amber / 14 SRM
Original Gravity: 14.6 Plato
Alcohol by Vol/Wt: 5.8%ABV – 4.5%ABW
Calories/12 oz.: 197
Malt Varieties: Two-row Harrington, Metcalfe, and Copeland pale malts, white wheat
Hop Varieties: Australian Topaz, American Chinook, Cascade, Simcoe and Citra hops
Special Ingredients: Orange peel, coriander, and apricots
Yeast Strain: Samuel Adams ale yeast
Availability: Year Round beginning February 2012
First Brewed: 2012
Here’s what I think:
Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA pours to a hazy whitish color slightly tinged with orange, a light wispy head formation and a grapefruity citric nose. The palate is tart and crackery with crisp wheat notes up front followed by a soft fruitiness from the apricot and a hint of spicy coriander. The hops quickly take over, though, and march right in with a slightly resiny, wonderfully citric grapefruit character. The finish reverberates the tart wheat and absolutely bursts with the citric grapefruit aromas of the hops, then punctuates them so nicely with a long dry bitterness.
I just love this beer. It’s wonderfully drinkable, refreshing, packed with flavor, and oh so sessionable. The American hops add a tremendously amount of aroma and flavor, and perhaps the one flaw here is that they drown out the orange and coriander as the beer progresses on the palate.
Still, I’ll be looking for this one in six-packs and snapping it up for sure.
Compared to the Shock Top Wheat, well, there really is no comparison. That beer (which does not use apricot) is out of balance, and doesn’t really strike this guru of brew as a good white ale or a decent IPA. Try for yourself and see, perhaps side by side? The differences are striking.