That David Pierce, head brewer at New Albanian Brewing Company, was willing to drive across the bridge and to the Highlands to deliver a howler of the newly released Citra Ass-Clown told me everything I needed to know: This one was going to be special.
(If you don’t already know the back story of the beer and its name, here it is.)
I was covering an event for Insider Louisville and still had another stop to make before going home to enjoy my first taste of the new brew, so my anticipation only heightened as the evening wore on.
When I got home, I grabbed my favorite pint glass, poured it full, and the first thing I noticed was that Citra Ass-Clown is a beautiful beer to look at: It’s cloudy amber-orange with a medium head, and just has the look of a truly quality beer.
But it’s the nose that sells this one. Wow. That familiar grapefruit-meets-floral burst comes out with a near-fury, and in such a way that I just sat there with my first pour for a moment, taking it in.
The hop quality plays bigger than the beer’s 50 IBU; it reminded me vaguely of Green Flash’s Green Bullet, which was hopped differently but appealed to me similarly. First of all, it’s big. Very big. It’s 7.5 percent ABV big.
It makes a hell of a first impression too — the flavor profile is spot on with the nose (I hate when you get a beer with a great nose, and the flavor just flat), and the body is right where you want it for a saison. It’s crisp and drinkable, but the hops and three malts (Weyermann BoHo Pils, Gambrinus Honey Malt, and White Wheat, according to the NABC website) challenge and create a distinctive, comfortable mouthfeel.
With these kinds of hops, you expect a citrus-y profile; the fun is in how the hop quantities and the way they are used in the brewing process can vary the flavors. I got an orange-meets-lime character here, but there’s plenty more going on behind the scenes, include an earthiness created by the aforementioned malts.
What I enjoyed most is that the distinctive flavor lingers. After a while, the bitterness builds in the background to a mild burn, but it never distracts you from the flavor itself. I was surprised to learn that a “special” ingredient was honey; it does have a hint of sweetness, but that honey was in the mix got past me. I think it may have been a case of not knowing what hit me.
There’s not much more to say other than this is just a great beer that hop lovers will “get.” It’s a big-time beer. Kudos to David and everyone over at NABC for making it happen.
Actually, instead of kudos, I should probably say “thanks.” Life is a little better now that there’s Citra Ass-Clown.