Beer Review: Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA

Staff Writer
This isn't your average IPA

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Even the most fervent IPA fans will admit that after a while, the bitterness of hops can tire your palate and get in the way of enjoying the bright, piney citrus flavors the hop flower provides. Deschutes Brewery from Bend, Ore., solves that issue entirely in its Chainbreaker White IPA.

Thanks to both wheat and pilsner malt in the brew, this unique beer has all the fresh, floral flavor you’d want from an IPA, but with a smooth, subtle finish. Poured from a 12-ounce bottle, a not-too-pale golden liquid holds a tightly spaced, bright white head for several minutes. Like a Belgian wit, Chainbreaker is brewed with both coriander and orange, and these scents both come through on the nose.

Sipping the beer brings these flavors and additional hoppy, citrus spice to your tongue, but the finish is smooth, rolling through banana notes and finishing with only a tiny, tiny hint of bitterness. It’s easily washed away by the next sip, and drinking a whole glass is much more refreshing than less-stringent wheat beers usually are. The quad of flowers — Bravo, Citra, Centennial, and Cascade — make the hops that you do taste unique and complex.

Think of Chainbreaker White IPA as a lovechild made from crossing a hoppy pale ale with a Belgian wit with an American wheat beer. The hybrid style, which comes in at 5.6 percent ABV and just 55 IBUs, was first created as an homage to mountain biking season, hence the name and also the graphics on the bottle. Brewer Jake Harper refers to both bike trails and this beer as "gnarly" and "slightly gritty" — in a good way. The resulting beer took the silver medal in the American-Belgo Style Ale category at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival, appropriate because Deschutes this year celebrates its silver anniversary. Also good news: Deschutes is now available in many East Coast cities for the first time this summer, and this is a perfect beer to use for a toast to the 25-year-old craft brewing pioneer. 

— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation 

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