After a long and tiring day, some of us just want to unwind with an ice-cold beer. It’s not too strong that we get drunk or wake up with a bad hangover after one can. And it’s so popular (the oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage and the most popular drink after water and tea) that you can order it online or find in any convenience store near you.
But for some of us, we don’t just enjoy any kind of beer: we like beers made with citra, arguably the king of citrusy hops. And here’s what you need to know about it and its substitutes.
What Is Citra Hops?
With a citrusy aroma and flavor, citra hops are used to create beers with a strong fruity and floral taste. It is a high alpha acid hop that is fairly new in the craft beer industry, but already it’s gaining a following from people who love its unique taste. Think of a citrus-flavored beer, but instead of the mild flavorings common in flavored beer, it’s a beer with an intense flavor and aroma reminiscent of citrus that has its own solid flavor profile with a kick.
Here’s what you need to know about where citra hops comes from:
- Origins: B.T. Loftus Ranches, Inc., Carpenter Ranches LLC, Perrault Farms – Hop Breeding Company of Washington, 2007.
- Brewing Usage: For a citrusy aroma and flavor reminiscent of tropical citrus fruits like peach and lychee
- Alpha Acids: 11 to 13 percent
- Beta Acids: 3.5 to 4.5 percent
- Used in: American pale ale, American IPA, Imperial IPA
Its more often used in single-hop craft beers due to its intense flavor profile and smooth taste on its own. Its great for American pale ales and IPAs as it has its own kick. If you’ve tried these beers in the past, you’ve likely already tasted citra hops on its own or with other hops:
- Three Floyds Brewing Zombie Dust
- Victory Headwaters Pale Ale
- Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
- Troegs Perpetual IPA
The Original Citra Hop Beer
Out of all the citra hop-based beers, Oakham’s citra hop beer is credited as the first and “original UK citra” IPA beer. Discovered in 2009, Oakham Brewing Director John Bryan was visiting the US for an annual hop sourcing visit when he heard of citra which, at the time, was merely deemed a “hype” hop. However, Bryan took the citra hops and created a beer with 100 percent citra hops, thus creating the first type of pure citra beer in the UK.
According to Oakham, their Citra beer goes best with tomato and basil-based Italian dishes or spicy Asian cuisine. It can be purchased in the UK online in bottle or cask. For additional information:
- Style: Session IPA
- ABV: Cask 4.2% / Bottle 4.6%
- Hops: Citra (USA)
- Malts (Cask): Maris Otter and Wheat Malt
- Malts (Bottles): Maris Otter and Clear Choice
- Allergens: Contains Gluten
Oakham’s Citra is an award-winning beer with a zesty and citrusy taste. Aside from winning Gold in the Champion Beer of Britain in 2019, Citra has won multiple awards since 2010.
Citra Hop Substitutes
In case you can’t find craft beer with citra hops in your area, try to find these hop substitutes instead. These also provide a strong citrus flavor profile similar to citra.
Galaxy is often touted as the Citra of Australia. Like Citra, Galaxy is the most popular and most successful beer hop in Australia. It doesn’t reach the Citra’s level of citrusy flavors, but it comes close. Galaxy hops produce purely fruity and citrusy flavors and aromas. Passion fruit and peach stand out the most, but there is a bit of pineapple and tropical fruits in the mix. Galaxy is a multipurpose hop that works well in bittering, flavoring, aromatics, as well as in conjunction with another hop. It is also one of the few foreign hops with wide circulations, making it readily available in stores or online.
If you like Citra’s lime flavors, you’ll love Motueka. This New Zealand hop bursts with citrusy flavors of lime, lemon zest, and tropical fruits. The distinct lime flavor of Motueka brews is often compared to that of mojitos. Motueka is a multipurpose hop, but you might want to use a separate hop for flavoring. Motueka isn’t as widely produced as Galaxy and may be hard to find. Motueka blends well with Simcoe if you want a more mature brew and with Centennial if you want more citrusy flavors.
Citrusy hops are flourishing in the USA, and Amarillo is another popular citrusy hop. It contains a bit of floral and spice tones, but strong orange and lemon tones dominate its flavor profile. Amarillo brews have intense grapefruit aromas mixed with a hint of orange notes. Brewing with Amarillo may make your beer a little on the sweet side, but you can temper the sweetness by blending a little Simcoe or Nugget to the mix.
Centennial is one of the earliest American hops that can genuinely be considered citrusy. Like Citra, Centennial has a bit of grapefruit in both its flavors and aroma. Centennial brews have a strong but crisp bitterness that highlights its grapefruit flavors and its underlying floral and other citrusy notes. Centennial is a multipurpose hop, and it is widely used for bittering.
Japan’s Sorachi Ace is getting quite a bit of buzz for its overwhelmingly lemony flavors. Flavors of lemon peel, lemon curd, and even lemongrass will dominate your brew’s flavors and aroma. Sorachi Ace also produces a bit of spice, tea and mint flavors with subtler notes of cedar and oak. Sorachi Ace is a multipurpose hop that produces clean bitterness if used as a bittering agent.
In the end, citrusy brews have become quite popular in the USA, as well as across the globe. Citra might be the king of citrusy hops, but remember that exploring other hops can widen the range of your breweries citrusy beers.
Interested in Trying Citra?
You can find citra hop beer in your local convenience store, supermarket, or online. It’s a great option if you want some added flavor to your beer with an extra kick in the aroma and taste.