I was lucky enough to get an early start with the now coveted Citra hop. Immediately after Sierra Nevada released the details of its Torpedo Ale, I began a search to find a hop supplier that had any Citras that weren’t sent over to Sierra Nevada. Late in the season, I was able to find some of the 2008 crop through Hops2U. I thought the anticipated tropical flavors would work well in a refreshing summer wheat. Additionally, this clean, light-bodied style of beer lends itself nicely to hop experimentation, as it allows the hop character to shine through.  I brewed up a 5 gallon batch of all-Citra wheat, which went incredibly well…up until the final step. During the force-carbonation of the beer in the keezer, one of the quick releases was loose on the keg post. Sadly, by the time I had realized this, the entire batch had emptied into the bottom of my freezer. Smelled like heaven, tasted great, but all went down the drain.

Soon after losing my first beer brewed with Citra, I did make another – a session pale that also had a nice amount of Simcoe in it (recipe here). That came out great, but I couldn’t quite tease out the Citra. With the recent flood of Citra hops in the homebrew market, I decided to re-brew the wheat to see what this hop is all about. I had already invested a full day of my time in the previous all-grain batch, so I went with extract on the second attempt to save some time. Here is the recipe:

5 gallon batch, OG 1.047, FG 1.014, IBU 24,  SRM 5.3

Malt:
7 lbs Northern Brewer Wheat LME

Hops:
.25 oz Citra (11.1% AA) at 60 mins.
.75 oz Citra (11.1% AA) at 10 mins.
1.0 oz Citra (11.1% AA) Dry Hopped

Yeast:
White Labs WLP320 – American Hefeweizen Yeast

Ferment at 65. At the end of primary fermentation, add dry hops. Let it sit on the hops for 5 -7 days, then bottle or keg.

Very simple recipe. Only two ounces of hops, but they packed quite a punch. I feel the flavor is like Amarillo on steroids. Fruity, but not as citrusy as the big “C hops.” Definitely more tropical. Huge aroma, also bursting with a fruityness that matches the flavor. I wouldn’t say passion fruit though, which is what some describe it as. I think more papaya, guava, star fruit, etc. It definitely produces the type of beer you can smell from three feet away.  Even my cat Miso couldn’t resist!

I also filtered this one, which had a big impact on the appearance and flavor. The American Hefe yeast left a lot of yeast in suspension, which I felt dulled the hop flavor. After removing the yeast, the hop flavor was noticeably sharper. Other than that, I don’t feel the yeast added anything significant to the beer. I think it’s safe to say you would have as good or better results with something like Safale US 05 or one of the liquid Cali ale yeasts.

It was a lot of trouble getting to this point, but worth the repeated effort. Overall, this beer is delicious, though, by design, very uni-dimensional. I think the pale ale I brewed with Citra AND Simcoe had a lot more going for it. They complement each other well, much in the same way Amarillo and Simcoe work together. The hop is, without a doubt, a very powerful aroma hop; however, I would advise against something over-the-top, as I think you might end up with fruit punch. More is not always better. Anyway, it’s an exciting new hop. Get out and try it, if you haven’t already.