The Origin Story
Citra hops, known for their vibrant citrusy character, have a compelling backstory. They were developed by the Hop Breeding Company of Yakima, WA, and introduced to the public in 2008. The creative mind behind Citra was Gene Probasco, a visionary hop breeder who crafted this hop variety in 1990. Gene’s meticulous crossbreeding work involved American Tettnanger, Brewer’s Gold, Hallertau Mittelfrüh, East Kent Goldings, and an unknown wild American hop.
Citra’s journey from obscurity to stardom took time. It was initially known as X-114 or HBC 394. Jason Perrault, a hop farmer, recognized its potential and selected a single plant in 1992, eventually expanding it to a test plot of 21 plants by 2003. This plot, located in Washington state, played a crucial role in evaluating Citra’s viability for commercial use.
Flavor & Aroma Profile
Citra hops are a dual-purpose variety that shines in all stages of the brewing process. They are renowned for their high alpha acid content, which contributes to a smooth, floral, and citrusy aroma and flavor. The flavor spectrum includes delightful notes of grapefruit, citrus, peach, melon, lime, gooseberry, passion fruit, and lychee. These tropical fruit flavors have made Citra the darling of craft brewers worldwide.
When used in the boil, Citra imparts a pleasant bitterness, thanks to its substantial alpha acids. Its remarkable balance between bitterness and aroma has earned it a prominent place in brewing.
Best Uses for Citra Hops
Citra hops have earned their place in various beer styles, with a particular focus on:
- India Pale Ale (IPA): Citra’s intense citrusy profile has played a pivotal role in shaping the IPA landscape.
- American Ales: From pale ales to double IPAs, Citra hops find their way into a wide range of American ale styles.
Citra hops have even taken center stage as the sole hop variety in certain beers, demonstrating their ability to stand on their own.
While Citra hops can contribute bitterness to beer when used for bittering, they are primarily celebrated for their aroma and flavor characteristics. When handled correctly, the bitterness they provide is smooth and well-balanced.
Citra Beer and Its Distinct Flavor
Citra hops have become synonymous with a particular style of beer often referred to as “Citra beer.” This term doesn’t denote a specific beer brand but rather a beer made predominantly or exclusively with Citra hops. These brews are known for their explosive citrus and tropical fruit flavors, often featuring notes of grapefruit, lime, and passion fruit. Citra beer is celebrated for its refreshing and zesty character, making it a favorite among craft beer enthusiasts seeking a burst of vibrant hop flavors.
Planting Citra Hops: How Many Hop Rhizomes?
When considering planting Citra hops in your home garden or on a commercial scale, you might wonder how many hop rhizomes to plant. The answer depends on several factors, including your available space, desired yield, and climate conditions. On average, for hobbyist gardeners, planting 2 to 4 hop rhizomes per variety is a good starting point. However, for a more substantial harvest, you may consider planting 4 to 6 Citra hop rhizomes. Keep in mind that hops require vertical support systems, adequate sunlight, and well-drained soil for optimal growth.
Substitutes for Citra Hops
In cases where Citra hops are unavailable, brewers can consider these suitable substitutes:
These hops share some flavor and aroma characteristics with Citra and can be employed as alternatives to achieve similar results in your brew.
Benefits of Citra Hops
The benefits of Citra hops extend far beyond their delectable flavors. These hops have played a pivotal role in the craft beer revolution, contributing to the rise of hop-forward beer styles like IPAs. Here are some key advantages of using Citra hops:
- Flavor Enhancement: Citra hops enrich beer with vibrant citrus, tropical, and fruity notes, elevating the overall flavor profile and aroma.
- Aromatic Brilliance: Their high myrcene content leads to the production of aroma compounds like Citronellol, which enhance the fragrance of fruit-forward IPAs.
- Versatility: Citra hops can be used for both bittering and aroma, offering brewers flexibility in crafting a wide range of beer styles.
- Market Demand: The popularity of Citra hops among brewers and beer enthusiasts ensures their consistent demand in the brewing industry.
Citra Hops in Lupulin Powder Form
For those looking for convenience and concentrated hop flavor, Citra hops are also available in lupulin powder form. It is recommended to use Citra lupulin powder at about half the amount of pellets. The Cryo/LupuLN2 (Yakima Chief Hops), Lupomax (Haas), and Hopsteiner products offer pure concentrated lupulin powder, perfect for whirlpool or dry hop additions.
Citra Hops in Brewing Trends
Citra hops have become a driving force behind some of the most notable brewing trends in recent years. Their unique flavor profile has sparked creativity in the craft beer industry, leading to the development of various substyles and innovations. Citra’s influence can be seen in:
- New England IPAs (NEIPAs): The hazy and juicy character of NEIPAs owes much to Citra hops. Their intense fruitiness and low bitterness align perfectly with the NEIPA style, resulting in beers that are both visually appealing and bursting with flavor.
- Session IPAs: Citra hops are well-suited for sessionable, lower-alcohol IPAs. Brewers looking to craft an approachable yet flavorful beer often turn to Citra to deliver the desired hoppy punch without overwhelming bitterness.
- Single-Hop Showcases: Citra hops often take the spotlight in single-hop beers, allowing brewers and consumers to fully appreciate the spectrum of flavors and aromas this hop variety can offer. These showcases highlight Citra’s versatility and appeal.
- Experimental Combinations: Brewers frequently experiment with Citra hops by combining them with other hop varieties to create unique flavor profiles. These experiments have led to exciting hybrid hop blends that redefine beer flavor boundaries.
Citra Hops Beyond Beer
While Citra hops are primarily associated with brewing, their aromatic qualities have found applications beyond the beer world. Craft beverage producers have started experimenting with Citra hops in various beverages, including:
- Ciders: Citra hops add a refreshing and citrusy twist to hard ciders, complementing the natural apple flavors. The combination of tartness and hoppy aroma creates a balanced and appealing cider.
- Seltzers: In the booming market of hard seltzers, Citra hops offer a novel way to introduce complex aromas and flavors to these low-calorie beverages. They can transform a simple seltzer into a sensory experience.
- Craft Cocktails: Innovative mixologists have embraced Citra hops to create unique craft cocktails. Hops can be used as garnishes, infused into syrups, or as a component in bitters, adding depth and complexity to drinks.
The Citra Hops Community
Citra hops have not only left their mark on the brewing world but have also fostered a vibrant community of hop enthusiasts, homebrewers, and professional brewers. Online forums, social media groups, and hop-focused events provide platforms for Citra lovers to share their experiences, recipes, and tips for getting the most out of this versatile hop variety. The sense of camaraderie among Citra enthusiasts continues to drive innovation and experimentation in brewing.
Citra Hops in Sustainability
Sustainability in hop cultivation is an important consideration for the brewing industry. Citra hops are known for their vigorous growth, which can lead to more efficient land and resource utilization. Additionally, the high alpha acid content of Citra means that fewer hops may be required for brewing, reducing the overall environmental footprint of hop production. Brewers committed to sustainable practices are exploring the potential of Citra hops in achieving their environmental goals.
Citra hops have not only redefined the world of hops but have also elevated the art of brewing. Their exceptional aroma and flavor have contributed to the popularity of IPAs and other beer styles. Whether you’re a brewer or a beer enthusiast, exploring the world of Citra hops is a flavorful journey worth embarking on.