Beer Review 0312: Westbrook Single Hop: Citra-Rye Pale Ale
I took a trip down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the New Year holiday, and an out of town trip naturally means a visit to a couple of local bottle shops for beers I can’t get back home. Westbrook Brewing Company makes beer in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. I picked up four bottles of their brew for review, and I’ll be going through those all this week.
While Westbrook’s website doesn’t divulge much history about the brewery, they are pretty new to the scene, having first produced beer in late 2010. The founder, Ed Westbrook, started with a local home brewing club, earning the name “Prolific Ed” because he brought 5-10 different home brews to the club each month. After graduating Furman University with a degree in computer science and later Clemson University with a MBA, Ed had the idea to start a brewery.
Planning began in 2009, and Westbrook hired an experienced brewmaster to run the show, given that he had no commercial brewery experience. Currently, Westbrook list two year-round brews and a host of seasonal/special offerings; in fact, they have so many of these type beers that I couldn’t find either of their regularly scheduled programming. Every beer I came home with is either seasonal or special release.
Citra-Ryle Pale Ale is a 5.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) beer designed to showcase the Citra hop, as it is the only hop variety used in the brew. Citra typically imparts tropical fruit flavors like pineapple, mango, and passionfruit; the grain bill features some rye and stays the same for each beer in this series. While Westbrook says this is a seasonal offering, it was first released in May of 2011 but didn’t return until late October 2012 — so perhaps this is more of an “every so often” deal. The IBUs (International Bitterness Units) are 35.
The pour produced a large and creamy head, dense with tight bubbles and lasting. The suds caught me a little off guard, as I wasn’t expecting such a thick collar. The beer was a beautiful golden-orange color, and looked like a perfect summertime sipper; the liquid was hazy but didn’t have any significant particles or sediment present. Lacing was excellent, leaving behind a nice coating in the wake of the thick head. A very fine looking Pale Ale.
On the nose, this was hoppy, but not a bomb like I thought it might be. The tropical fruits are there, for sure, but they’re a little buried. There’s pineapple and lime, and together they mix with a sticky, nearly resinous pine. The rye is present, too, lending a bit of spice and some bread notes, and there’s a bit of sweet caramel to round things out.
The taste offered up mild tropical fruits on the front end; pineapple and mango — then a bready malt middle. The rye never really comes through on the palate, which was slightly disappointing, but the hops made up for it, even though they were a bit faded. (This bottle was nearly two months old.) The finish is moderately bitter for 35 IBUs, and brings on more of the faded fruit juice concentrate and bready caramel. This beer is medium-bodied, with a medium, crispy mouthfeel that was a little gritty and a touch drying.
Like Westbrook, I, too, love Citra hops — and while this is a nice beer that is easily drinkable, I wish they had amped the hops up even more. That said, for a bomber bottle the price is certainly right and there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had here.
Westbrook Single Hop: Citra-Rye Pale Ale, 88 points. Price: $6.17 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.