So this is the liquid version of God Hates Astronauts, a comic book that seems to defy summary. I’ll just say that I read the first few pages, which depicts actual historical figure John L. Sullivan (“Pugilist Extraordinaire. Total dick.”) training an army of bears, presumably for the purposes of world domination. Half Acre, tasked with summarizing this monstrosity in beer form, apparently just said “Fuck it!” and made a Citra hopped beer.
Mild digression: A few weeks ago Adrian “Ding” Dingle hosted The Session, a beer blog roundup centered around a topic of the host’s choice. His topic was “What the hell has America done to beer?”, AKA, “USA versus Old World Beer Culture”. I did not participate because the Session posts on Fridays and that’s my time for drinking, not writing, but if I did, one of the key components I would have mentioned is the impact of Americans on hop profiles. Citra is the poster child for what the 2011/2012 Barth Report calls “Flavor” hops (other notables are Simcoe, Amarillo, and a whole host of Austrailan/NZ hops like Galaxy and Motueka). To make a long story short, hops with flavor/aroma profiles like these were considered “undesirable” until relatively recently (say the 1990s, but really accelerating here in the current century), and this explosion of new hop varieties and tastes seems to be heavily driven by the good old USA. Of course, we’re not alone in our hop obsession, and hops like Citra are in high demand all over the world. Fortunately, the most recent Barth Report indicates that acreage devoted to Citra more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, so we’re on our way. This is a topic that probably deserves a more in-depth exploration, but for now, let’s get back on track.
Chances are, if all the beer dorks are freaking out over some new IPA or DIPA, it probably involves one of these “Flavor” hops, and at least here in the US, that will often be the Citra hop. Citra is usually cited as having uncommon fruit and citrus aromas/flavors and I certainly detect that goodness, but I usually get a big dollop of floral and grassy notes as well. To give some examples of a ultra-hyped Citra hopped beer, check out Three Floyds Zombie Dust and Lawson’s Finest Liquids Double Sunshine IPA. I had one of the latter on Friday, and Beer Hates Astronauts on Saturday, and while not all Citra beers are created equally, I think they compared favorably to each other. Which is saying a lot. Let’s take a closer look:
Half Acre Beer Hates Astronauts – Pours a hazy golden yellow orange color with a finger of off white head and mild lacing as I drink. Pure Citra hops in the nose, grassy, floral, citrus hops dominate the smell (in a good way!) Taste follows the nose, tons of grassy citrus, some floral and herbal notes too, and a shot of bitterness dries things out in the finish. Mouthfeel is crisp, light, and dry, really well balanced and almost quaffable. Overall, this is superb. Perhaps not quite Lawson’s or Hill Farmstead level, just a hair away, but close enough to warrant a a strong A-
Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/14/13. Brewery only release, 8/30/13.
So happy that my Chicago trading partner picked this up for me, and while I enjoyed Daisy Cutter, this beer has really raised my eyebrows. Half Acre is a brewery to watch, so I’m going to (continue to) do so.