It seems kind of crazy to me to think that we have brewed so many single hop beers at TBC, yet until yesterday, we hadn’t released a single hop Citra beer even though Citra is the hop variety that we use the most. The reason we were decided to do it now was because we stumbled across the best quality Citra that I have seen since 2009.
In recent years, Citra has been a bit of a problem for me. First, price jumped out of control and then when it was available, there seemed to be a weird onion/garlic character in half of the Citra I tried. It actually spawned a myth that over using Citra results in onion flavors… What’s true is that low quality Citra has a tendency to display onion flavors. By the time Tombstone started production, I had learned which hop suppliers I wanted to work with and which ones I wanted to avoid, but the ones that I wanted to work with didn’t offer Citra. Our first batch of IPA used Citra from the only supplier that had it that I felt that I could trust, but I knew that even with them I was taking a gamble. While it turned out well, it still didn’t have the intensity of aroma that I remembered from the early years of Citra’s development.
After we had been producing beers with that Citra for a few months, the supply ran out. We faced a tough decision… Should we stop using Citra and discontinue production of our IPA? Fortunately, as I came close to making that decision, one of my trusted hop suppliers contacted me to let me know that they got Citra for sale for the first time in their company history. Knowing that I could trust their quality, I asked for a contract for a few hundred pounds to get us through the year. When the first box arrived, I opened it up and immediately was ecstatic about our agreement. The aroma was the same huge punch of tropical aroma that I remembered from years previously before Citra production grew. If I had to describe the perfect harvest for Citra, it would be exactly what I smelled when I opened that box. Right away, I knew we had to brew a single hop IPA with it to show off what Citra is really capable of.
The Citra IPA features the same malt base that we use for our original IPA, but instead of Simcoe and Amarillo paired with it, this IPA has nothing but Citra. As always with our NEIPA’s, it is very low in bitterness while still showing off a huge hop character from large whirlpool and dry hop additions. I feel like this beer really shows off what makes Tombstone beers special… Our never ending quest to use the highest quality ingredients, no matter the cost or the difficulty with which they are acquired. This is a difficult task as a small brewery that normally gets the last pick of a year’s hop harvest, but thanks to our friends at Hop Head Farms, we have the best Citra available to us that we could ask for.
In addition to the Citra IPA shipping yesterday, we managed to get a “surprise” beer put on the truck for deliveries. I say it’s a surprise because it was not a beer that we planned on brewing. Freight shipments are very difficult to deal with in a small town like Tombstone and two weeks ago, I planned on brewing another batch of Pilsener. The day before the brewday, the grains arrived, only to find out that half the order was missing. Due to our tight production schedule, if I didn’t brew the next day, we would miss the opportunity to brew anything into that fermenter that was supposed to house the Pils. Instead of skipping a brewday, I went through the ingredients we had and found that I could brew a Pale Wheat Ale.
Pale Wheats seemed like they were the style of the future years ago when 3 Floyds released their awesome version, Gumballhead back in 2003. For the next few years, a lot of breweries brewed their versions of Pale Wheat Ales, but frequently, they left a lot to be desired. It’s a style that I have enjoyed many times but drain poured more often. I’ve wanted to take a stab at one for a while now, but hadn’t thought of brewing since TBC opened until we brewed Biffhorific Amber. After brewing the Amber, I couldn’t help but think “What if Pale Wheats made a resurgence?” As I went through our material inventory, I was thinking to myself “This is my chance! Matt isn’t here to tell me no!”
Our version is similar to a New England Style Pale Ale… Low bitterness, huge aroma, hazy, soft, creamy mouthfeel, and lots of esters. It was brewed with Amarillo and Simcoe and fermented with our IPA yeast strain. It’s more drinkable than an IPA, but has much more hop aroma than your typical pale ale. The result is something that I would love to see more breweries producing and hopefully it’s something that enough people will enjoy that it won’t be a one time beer for us. I personally would love to have it available in cans for those late summer hikes in Arizona. Cheers!