Thing or Nothing: White IPA

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their early IPA, Harpoon has released something highly modern and 21st-century--White IPA.  Their version has a fair dose of coriander and 45 BUs of peppery hopping but it's more wit than IPA and is marked by a soapiness that illustrates how hard it is to thread this style's particular needle.  But whatever: white IPA is having its moment.  In the churn that defines the current moment in the craft segment, coming up with the hot new style counts for a lot of sales--even if the styles don't last long.

Source: Beer of Tomorrow
Expect more of this.  The craft beer segment thrives on novelty.  If you cast your glance backward in time, you'll see a pretty impressive churn of styles that have come and gone.  Many of them are American inventions, but a few are rediscoveries.  American wheat ales and caramelly amber ales started things off, and we passed through pumpkin ales, fruit ales (both of which have come back around), wits, the many permutations of IPAs (the various coasts, rye, red, black, double, triple, and who knows what's next) and so on.  

White IPA is an invention (and a particularly clever one, given that the two most popular styles in the craft segment are IPAs and wits), so it's definitionally new, but to the average drinker a few of the recent trendy beers--gose and gratzer spring to mind--probably seemed pretty new, too.  In a country with 2,600 breweries making something like forty thousand beers, no style is ever truly extinct (even helles!).  But the promise of some of these new styles as the next big thing (inevitably called the "new IPA") was often a mirage.  Some, like saisons, have managed to become a thing, if not a big thing.  Others, like gose, had their moments and then faded to almost nothing.  So it got me thinking--thing or nothing, that sounds like a fun game!  Here's a sample.
Style ... Thing or Nothing
Wild ale  ... thing
Gose ... nothing
Gratzer ... nothing
Black IPA ... nothing
White IPA ... ???
You can play this game at home, of course.  The list is by no means exhaustive, and your mileage may vary.  (I expect black IPA/CDA partisans to offer rebuttals.)

White IPAs are an interesting case.  It seems like they're a little hard to make--striking that balance between spice and hop isn't a cakewalk.  When done well, as with Deschutes Chainbreaker (which is by no definition remotely an IPA), they're sublime.  A near miss and you enter that uncanny valley of Frankenbeer.  The difficulty of pulling off the trick may doom White IPAs, but with a few hits, who can say? 

So let's play the game.  White IPA, thing or nothing?  You be the judge.