PALE/WHITE STOUT is still very much an emergent category, so perhaps it is premature to anoint a benchmark brew. But after Pipework’s Hey, Careful Man… emerged this fall it quickly seized pole position and seems unlikely to cede it anytime soon. Unlucky for J.P. Casper White Stout, which otherwise would have seemed much cleverer. The beer looks like a lager—straw yellow and apparently thin—but its lactose sugary body and sizeable additions of coffee beans give it a flavor and texture much more reminiscent of dark ale. The roasted malt is missing, but that’s the point, of course.
Instead the beer shows hints of pale grain clarity, which combine with the cocoa beans for flavors of white chocolate instead of dark, all supported by reasonably spicy carbonation. English hops were used, but neither they nor the 6% ABV are very noticeable. Overall intriguing, if a bit muddled. It also poured with regrettably little head, which perhaps is less essential to white stouts as they have no roasted malts for that creamy cap to balance. But if debiting two of stout’s most distinctive and attractive features (generous heads and roasted grains) are characteristic of white stouts in general, at what point are we just better off drinking Baileys?