Beer people are good people. But, we already knew that.
While there are many things to be thankful for when it comes to local beer, we will also forever lament the problem of enjoying that beer … non-locally. Thankfully, Nick from over at Drink. Blog. Repeat. was recently kind enough to break down this barrier and ship me some beery goodness from South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing, a Mount Pleasant-based company that’s churning out some pretty solid brews.
Nick sent me three of their beers, the first of which has set the bar fairly high for the others. Their Citra Rye pale ale, which sits with an 87 on Beer Advocate, is a great entry into the brewery’s single-hop beer series.
How did the sum of this beer’s parts make for a top-notch brew? Let’s hit the jump and discuss.
One thing this beer had going for it was the use of rye, an ingredient I’ve really come to appreciate in recent months. As I’ve noted before, most commercial uses of rye malt max out at about 20-25 percent, which allows for the crisp, spicy characteristics of the ingredient to really add to a beer’s profile without becoming pronounced enough to dominate other grains. After drinking this beer, I’m convinced that rye and high alpha acid, American hops like Citra were made for each other.
Upon pouring the beer, I couldn’t help but catch an intense, citrus freshness flowing out of my glass. Aromas full of juicy, tropical fruit wafted longingly, including pineapple, mango and a touch of apricot. While the rye brings about some bite and earthy spiciness at the front of each smell – think cardamom or ginger – it’s the Citra that really carries this beer on its back. A touch of biscuit aroma from the rest of the malt grain can also be picked up, but with Citra and rye, I didn’t care to linger on it.
My top note from the flavor? “Just tastes fresh.” Once again it’s the Citra hops doing what they can to steal the show, imparting a variety of citrus flavors in the beer, including a touch of tangerine tartness. I did find the beer to have a rather bitter, dry finish, although I suspect that’s because Citra is ideal for use as a flavoring or aroma hop due to its propensity for bitterness at up to 12-percent alpha acid. All the same, the rye of the beer helped to clean my palate after each sip, not leaving a ton of lingering flavor, but rather a imparting a diminishing memory of fruit left by the hops. After each sip I found myself smacking my lips a bit to try and rekindle the taste.
At 5.5 percent ABV, this beer in a great wheelhouse for alcohol as a pale ale, but really drinks like an intense IPA that would sit higher on the ABV scale. All told, it’s a complex beer for the general lack of ingredients and one that I would definitely seek out if I find myself anywhere near Westbrook again.
For another take on this beer, you can also check out a review at Drink. Blog. Repeat.
Citra Rye pale ale stats:
- Malt: Rye and N/A
- Hops: Citra
- Adjuncts: N/A
- ABV: 5.5 percent
- Beer Portfolio: Citra Rye pale ale from Westbrook Brewing of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina