What Makes Citra Hops So Special?

Yellow Submarine Hazy IPAWith the re-release of our most popular Hazy IPA, Yellow Submarine, we asked brewmaster Ian VanGundy what made this beer so special. He said without hesitation, “When we made this beer with all Citra hops, we joked that no one would want any other beers.” Read on to learn what makes Citra hops so special!

What do Citra hops taste like?

Citra hops are known for their clean, straightforward citrus flavor and minimal “dankness.” If you’re lucky, you can get notes of pineapple, and sometimes even peaches. Think of soft fruit when you picture the flavor of Citra hops.

Citra hops are not so much famous for what they taste like, but more for what they do NOT taste like. Many hops have notes of grassy, dank flavors. New Zealand hops are famous for their earthy notes. Ian added, “As much as we enjoy giving people complexity in the beers, we’re always going to win over the masses if we deliver a straightforward hazy IPA with the fruit-forward, hop character from Citra hops.”

How did Citra hops originate?

Before the 80s, brewers were not making intentionally hoppy beers like they are now. When the pioneers of American IPAs began making expressive hoppy beers, they were more focused on bitterness and used classic hops like centennial, chinook, columbus and cascade that are still widely available today. The classic hops all bring some amount of pine or bitter grapefruit.  Now with modern hop alternatives which are more focused on fruity aromas and smoother bitterness qualities, the classic hops are known to be a bit rougher around the edges. 

When craft beer took off in the 80s and 90s, hop growers needed proven decades before they took the risk of designing new breeds of hops. It takes eight years to develop a new variety of hops, and creating a new product is a huge decision because it requires them to dedicate a huge part of their fields. No wonder they were slow to get on the bandwagon!

Decades after the craft beer revolution of the 80s and 90s, 2010 finally brought us the result of hop-breeding: expensive designer hops like Citra, Mosaic, Strata, Simcoe, El Dorado and of course, anything from New Zealand including Nelson, Riwaka, and Motueka. We still have the old varieties (now commonly referred to as the C-hops) as a more cost effective alternative.

Of all the designer hops, Citra is the most successful. When asked to summarize the success of Citra hops, Ian said, “They make beer easy to drink. You don’t have to develop a taste for Citra like you do with other varieties. If a new beer drinker were to try a Citra-hopped beer, they are most likely to prefer it over other alternatives.” Yellow Submarine is available now on tap and in cans. Stop in to see what all the fuss is about!