What's The Deal With White IPA?

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Fashion codes dictate that you can wear white only from Memorial Day till Labor Day. But this summer, several brewers are demanding your beer be snow-hued too.

Last month, Oregon's Deschutes Brewery and Kansas City, Missouri's Boulevard Brewing released the fruits of their collaborative labor, a white IPA. I'm sure you're scratching your skull. You've only now begun to wrap your brain around the concept of black IPA, which mate piney, citric bitterness with complementary notes of cocoa and java. Deschutes and Boulevard have taken that concept to the opposite end of the color spectrum, creating a white IPA that's the offspring of each brewery's specialties.

Deschutes, you see, is famed for its hoppy ales such as Hop Henge and Hop Trip, while Boulevard is known for its adroit touch with wheat beers and Belgian-influenced farmhouse ales. (Its dry, hop-forward Tank 7 is one of my favorite beers of 2011 so far.) Deschutes brewmaster Larry Sidor powwowed with Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels. The duo devised a recipe incorporating each brewery's signature profile, but they hit a snafu bridging the divide between a cloudy, wheat-driven witbier and a hoppy IPA. The herbaceous solution was adding a measure of lemongrass, sage, coriander and orange peel, which married nicely with the citrusy hops.

VoilĂ ! Sidor and Pauwels took the recipe back to their respective breweries and fired up their brew kettles. The Deschutes version was dubbed Conflux No. 2, while Boulevard's was called Collaboration No. 2. While the releases aren't identical twins (that's downright impossible, due to differences in water, brewing equipment and raw ingredients' provenance), the brews are pretty darn close. They boast citrusy, herb-driven aromatics of orange peel and sage, and heads as fluffy as a cumulus cloud. Each version drinks dry and crisp, with a creamy body, lively carbonation and a nice bitter-grapefruit punch.

It's so tasty, you might be tempted to save a few bottles to savor after Labor Day. Some rules are made to be broken.

Follow Joshua M. Bernstein on Twitter @joshmbernstein and pre-order his book, Brewed Awakening, on Amazon.