White IPAs were all the rage when I brewed this beer. The styles already seems to have leveled off and begun falling back. At the time, I had been disappointed by most of the versions I’d tried, finding them to be too harsh and bitter to fit into the Wit beer framework. I love the blast of citrusy hops in the aroma, but the bitterness was just not pleasant to me.
I decided the logical thing to do was to take a step back from the White IPAs and instead do a Pale Ale/Wit hybrid. Lots of late hops with a lower IBU count and an ABV more in range with other Wits. Really, I mainly took a standard Wit recipe and then just added a bunch of one of my favorite hop combinations.
Citra and Centennial hops are both great, but together they work as well as any tandem team of ingredients in all of brewing. The floral notes of Centennial, with the bit of resin in Citra and the loads of grapefruit from both form a tag team to treat your whole face.
I gave a decent load, two and a half ounces between the two varieties, towards the end of the boil, but I didn’t dry hop. I was very happy with the hop flavor and aroma I got. It was hoppy, but it left room for the yeast, wheat and even a little bit of coriander.
I mentioned that I stayed fairly true to a classic Wit recipe, but I did make a couple of changes. The first one was purely to make my brew day easier. In the classic Belgian Wits, raw wheat is incorporated into the grist and usually necessitates a step mash to achieve conversion. I went with the modern cheat, Torrified Wheat. I don’t honestly know the full process of that leads to torrified wheat, but I do know that it undergoes some sort of heat treatment that makes it much easier to achieve conversion. Using this substitute, I was able to keep my normal single infusion mash process.
Belgian Wits often have coriander, which I already mentioned I used in this recipe, and bitter orange peels or zest. In place of this, I used clementine peels. I used them fresh, peeling the fruit to eat while brewing and then adding all of the skin straight to the boil. I was nervous about the presence of the pith adding too much bitterness, but I didn’t have that problem. In fact, I don’t think that the peels did much for the beer one way or the other. I know the orange peels sold at the homebrew store are normally dried. I’m not sure how much of a difference this makes, but with the extra hops, the fruit and spice additions were playing even further in the background than normal and they were not missed at all.
This was one of my favorite batches. It was briskly hoppy, suitably complex in fermentation character, yet crisp and refreshing. Though not quite in session beer range, this was a beer that I could enjoy several of. I did save a few, though. Which is not a good idea, by the way, I did it for this blog, though. These were just about gone when I started the blog and I purposely saved some to do tasting notes on. I just wish I had been able to get to it sooner.
Style: Americanized Belgian Wit/Pale Ale
Brew Date: July 3, 2013
Serve Date: August, 2013
Approximate ABV: 5.3%
54% Belgian Pilsner Malt
38% Torrified Wheat
Hops (approximately 2 gallon batch)
.5 oz Centennial @ 60 min
1 oz Citra @ 10 min
.5 oz Centennial @ 5 min
1 oz Citra @ Flameout
White Labs 0400 – Belgian Wit Ale