It’s that time of year again! No, not the holidays. I’m talking about mother fuckin’ Polar Vortex! That’s right – stores are running out of bread and milk, the cold of space is literally descending into our world, and Jim Cantore is stormgasming all over the Weather Channel. I can think of no better way to pass this “Day After Tomorrow” situation than by drinking. But, as I already have a fridge of heavy, malty, warming holiday ales, I thought I’d switch things up a bit. Enter Citra Noel – a tasty hop bomb from Columbus Brewing Company that eschews the normal spices of the season for straight up Citra hoppage.
The aroma is decidedly Citra, bursting with dankish notes of pineapple and wet pine. Beneath, a layer of caramel and a touch of crackers add a breath of malts. Immediately following, orange marmalade brings on the citrus, alongside a hint of lemon peel. There are some grassy notes at the back of each breath that add onto the resinous pine just a bit, enhancing the dank (which is an awesome phrase). Every now and then, a faint hint of peaches (and a slight berry vibe) ripple beneath the tropical hop presence, but you’ll need to search a bit for these. There is a heavily “raw” hop presence to this aroma, as if you’re breathing in pure lupulin, and all of the accompanying spicy aromatics, which is awesome. High five for hops!
On the tongue, a potent “forest floor” dankness arrives first, with damp, resinous pine smacking your tongue before a tropical burst of pineapple adds its juice (kinky, eh?). The bitterness is upfront and potent, but stops short of melting your tongue. Caramel and crackers make a stronger appearance than the aroma, adding to a slightly more balanced taste than aroma (think of it like a hoppy red instead of a pure IPA), but the hops are still in charge. The mid-taste is full of orange peel, and zesty notes of lemon and lime around the edges. The same raw Citra punch is here as well, coating your tongue with pure hop essence, mainly consisting of spice and a slight earthiness that tingles throughout the mouth. This is a beer that you can taste before it even hits your tongue. As the kids are saying these days, it’s potent AF. The hop surge lasts until the end of each drink, before a subtle hint of honey inches over the tongue, adding a bit of sweetness and leaving you ready for more.
If you’re not a huge hop lover, you may not enjoy this beer. If you’re not a fan of the bold flavors of Citra hops, you may not enjoy this beer. If you were looking for a spiced, malty winter warmer, you may not enjoy this beer. But, if you want hoppy explosion fun time in your mouth, this beer is for you. There are enough malts to give the beer a rich, “festive” color, but beyond that, you’re sucking on hops all day long. And, as an added bonus, this beer is pushing past 7%, so it’s no slouch. Bundle up, avoid exposure to the outside world, and enjoy some tasty beer. Hoppy holidays!