IPAs are the most popular craft beer style in the United States. It’s important to understand their ingredients and what sets them apart. One common ingredient is wheat: which IPAs are made with it?
American and English IPAs do not contain wheat. The New England-style IPA typically uses about 50% wheat in the grain bill; this means that wheat is a substantial ingredient in this style. Wheat helps create a hazy appearance and mouthfeel in the beer. Other IPA styles that contain wheat are White and Black, and sometimes English and Red IPAs.
For more on which IPAs contain wheat and how much, continue reading.
Topics We Cover
Are IPAs made with wheat?
All beer is made with water, barley, yeast, and hops. Where does wheat fit into the equation, and do IPAs have wheat in them?
American IPAs usually don’t use wheat, but some sub-styles thrive when they’re brewed with wheat.
IPAs are brewed with neutral malts like 2-row, pilsner, or Munich malts. IPAs are sometimes made with wheat to achieve the full body and mouthfeel desired in some sub-styles. Hazy, White, English, Black, and sometimes Red IPAs can be brewed with wheat. The wheat creates a cloudy and thick appearance and mouthfeel in the beer.
When wheat is used to brew IPAs, there’s either a lot or a little being used. It’s not necessary for any of these sub-styles except for the white IPA, which is a derivative of Belgian witbiers and must be brewed with at least 40-50% wheat in the grain bill.
Wheat is only used in IPAs when it benefits the style. American and West Coast IPAs, for example, are brewed to be crisp, clear, and clean. The use of wheat in this style would hinder the beer’s profile and take away from the style.
Hazy IPA (NEIPA)
Hazy IPAs are known for their thick mouthfeel and captivatingly hazy body. These characteristics come from the ingredients – including wheat.
Hazy IPAs are made with wheat, oats, and other high-protein grains. Hazy IPAs use malt, but wheat and oats often make up anywhere from 20-50% of the grain bill. Most of the time, a combination of wheat, oats, and a base malt is used to brew hazy IPAs. High-protein wheat is used to better sustain the hazy body of NEIPAs.
The Hazy IPA is unfiltered with a full body courtesy of, among other things, the wheat used.
American or West Coast IPA
American or West Coast IPAs are crisp and clean with a clear body. The ingredient lists for these beers rarely contain wheat.
American and West Coast IPAs are not made with wheat. They are not made with wheat because it would interfere with the clean and crisp taste and mouthfeel that is characteristic of the style.
American IPAs use a malt base without wheat, with most of the flavor coming from the hops.
The English IPA is sweet and pulls flavor from the malt and yeast used. Sometimes, these beers contain a small amount of wheat.
English IPAs do not have wheat. Sometimes, they’re made with a small percentage of wheat; recipes may call for 3-10% of wheat or wheat malt in the grain bill. These IPAs are made with British malts, including British white or “wheat,” malt.
English IPAs are hoppy but sweeter than American IPAs. They’re also different in that English IPAs garner a lot of their flavor from the fruity esters in the yeast strains used.
Belgian IPAs have a dry mouthfeel and slightly sweet malt aroma and taste. Wheat is usually left off the grain bill in this style.
Belgian IPAs are not made with wheat. The grain bill typically comprises 80-100% Belgian pale or pilsner malts. Crystal malt can make up 5% or less of the total malt used. Low malt flavors are present and wheat and oats are not used.
Belgian IPAs are still in their experimental phase; these beers are one of the newer trends in beer right now.
White IPAs include a hefty amount of wheat. White or “wheat” IPAs are a marriage between American IPAs and Belgian witbiers. They have a full mouthfeel with the sharpness of the two styles.
White IPAs are made with at least 40-50% unmalted wheat and 50% Belgian pilsner malt or other Belgian malts. They can also be brewed with 10% or fewer oats in the grain bill. The wheat used in White IPAs creates the cloudy appearance and full mouthfeel of the beer.
White IPAs are also brewed with coriander and bitter orange peels just like Belgian witbiers.
Black IPAs contain a subtle roasted flavor and sharp bitterness. They can be brewed with wheat.
Black IPAs are often made with roasted wheat. Roasted wheat can make up 20-40% of the grain bill to achieve the dark color and smoky flavor while also imparting hazy qualities. Although it includes wheat, the malt and wheat profiles are often low and the hops used are the main flavor component.
Black IPAs are meant to taste ever so slightly toasty with the hop profile of an American or West Coast IPA.
Brown IPAs are sweet from the malt used but still contain a balanced hop presence in taste and aroma.
Brown IPAs are not brewed with wheat. They’re made with 80-100% 2-row or pale malt. Crystal malt can be used sparingly; around 5-10%. Chocolate malt, Carafa malts, and biscuit malts can be used in small amounts to make brown IPAs.
Brown IPAs use American hops and malts with sweet undertones to accentuate the bitterness and stay true to the “brown” ale aspect of the beer.
The red IPA is a cousin of red ales, but with increased bitterness and a potent hop profile.
Red IPAs are not usually brewed with wheat. If wheat is used, it should make up no more than 10% of the grain bill. Red IPAs are made with Cara malts, crystal malts, Vienna malt, Munich malt, and 2-row malt.
While this style is hop-forward, it also retains the sweetness from red ales and the types of malts used.
Rye IPAs are hoppy, bitter, and crisp. They ferment cleanly to allow hop varieties to shine.
Rye IPAs are not made with wheat. Instead, base malts for rye IPAs include 2-row, pilsner, and Vienna malt. Rye malt should make up at least 15-20% of the grain bill, according to the Beer Judge Certification Program.
Rye IPAs are still hop heavy, and too much sweetness from something like a crystal malt would clash with the hop character.
Imperial American IPAs are not brewed with wheat.
Imperial American IPAs are not made with wheat. They are brewed with more malt and hops to achieve a more bitter, hoppier, and higher ABV version of the beer.
However, any IPA can be turned into an imperial by applying the ingredients differently to achieve the imperial characteristics and Imperial hazy or juicy IPAs are sometimes brewed with wheat which can account for 40% of the grain bill.