I like IPAs. I particularly like craft IPAs with a bit of a chip on their shoulders about how hoppy they are. It seems like the Dead Frog brewery — one of whose catchphrases is “there’s lots of hops in a Dead Frog” — ought to be able to produce the ne plus ultra of beers that I like, no? Well, today’s beer is Dead Frog’s “Beermaster Series” Citra IPA.
Chip on its shoulder? Let me quote some of the label copy:
Dead Frog Citra IPA is a high hopped, high alcohol, high bitterness true IPA that is like an invigorating open handed slap of citrus awesomeness!!!
Yes, they really did leave out a few hyphens in favour of three exclamation marks at the end of that sentence. What, is there an upper bound on beer-label punctuation? Did I miss a memo? Here’s some blurb about the Beermaster Series:
You hold in your hands the pinnacle of brewing innovation. BEERMASTER SERIES is a harmonious combination of premium quality beer and ingenious flavour design. We bestow upon you the finest beer in the universe!
Well, I won’t accuse them of half-assing their ambitions. But if you write copy like that, you’d better deliver.
I regret to inform you, dear reader, that Citra IPA is nowhere near the finest beer in the universe. It isn’t even within shouting distance of the finest beer in my local liquor store. Now that Total Eclipse has gone out of production for the nonce, Citra might be the finest IPA in that store, but it’d have a close contest with such large-batch beers as Tree’s Hophead and Howe Sound’s Devil’s Elbow.
Citra is… citrusy. I’ll give it that. The extra acidity cuts through the usual high-hops syrupy aftertaste rather pleasantly and makes for a beer that can pass itself off as crisp — until the citrus goes away and the hoppy aftertaste lingers. (Devil’s Elbow, while not as hoppy, does the “crisp IPA” thing better.) Otherwise, Citra is standard “big IPA” fare, though not a hophammer like the blessed Hopsickle or Shipwreck — or Total Eclipse, for that matter. It’s strong and bitter and a bit syrupy, with a long aftertaste and — aside from the initial hit of citric acid — nothing else to bring to the table.
It’s a good beer. It’s by far a better bang for your buck than Inedit, which is merely decent but more expensive. Citra’s only real problem is that it’s a good IPA on the West Fucking Coast, where outstanding IPAs are the next best thing to commonplace.
+1 for effort, +1 for execution, -2 for hubris. Crank up the hops dial and try again, folks — you’re on to something but not there yet.