Beer Review 0587: Oakham Ales Citra IPA

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Oakham Ales is located in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England, and is home to the largest brewpub in Europe, The Brewery Tap. Opened on a Friday the 13th in October of 2006, the two partners involved were Paul Hook and John Bryan. Oakham started as a 75-barrel brewhouse and have steadily expanded.

You might be scratching your head a little bit at the name of this beer — Citra IPA? Yep, this is decidedly a west-coast of the United States style beer brewed by our friends in England. Citra IPA was Oakham’s fifth beer to become year-round, and it is a single-hopped IPA that uses, wait for it: only Citra hops. Citra hops are an aroma hop variety that were developed in 2008 by the Hop Breeding Company — the hop has high alpha acids, and impart citrus and tropical fruit characters. The beer is only 4.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) and won gold in the 2013 International Beer Challenge. Recently, the website RateBeer named Oakham one of the top 100 breweries in the world; only six breweries based in England made the list.

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The pour drew a small, soapy, bright white head that quickly fizzled away. Color of the beer was a very pale yellow, and it’s super translucent, with no particles or sediment. The body had just a touch of hop haze to it (not chill haze) and the lacing was fair, leaving behind a ring of weepy foam after I began to take sips.

On the nose, this beer is hop-heavy but retains a bit of lightness — does that make any sense? Let me explain that a little more: the hop aroma dominates, pretty much masking any malt backing, but it’s not an extremely pungent hoppy nose. We’ve got tons of grapefruit, citrus (oranges and lemons, especially) and a touch of grassiness. There’s a bit of herbal spice; if there are some malts here, there just light grains. As the beer warms, more and more lemon peel starts to show.

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The palate follows the nose, and this is a very pleasant, easy drinking beer to be so hoppy. Wonderful, juicy notes of grapefruit, orange, and lemon greet the tongue, sweet at first, even ripe…before the bitterness is turned on, and ramps up with the bitter side of all the above. Grapefruit rind, orange peel, and lemon zest, along with some herbal tea. The finish showcases the grapefruit and some juicy orange. Despite being so full-flavored, Citra is light-bodied, with a thin, foamy, and dry mouthfeel.

Color me impressed — not only is Citra one of my favorite hops, but this is impressive for a 4.2% ale that only uses one hop. The flavors are excellent and if you’re looking for an extremely drinkable IPA with loads of Citrus, check Oakham out. I didn’t expect this, but these English guys have made a session IPA that stands its own against some of the big dogs from here in the United States.

Oakham Ales Citra IPA, 89 points. Price: $4.99 US for one 500 ml. bottle.

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