In this newly revived series(we only had one article 3 years ago…), we’re delving into a subject that tends to divide some beer drinkers—hops. Some people can’t get enough, while others steer clear. How were they cultivated? Why do they taste and smell like they do? Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll be able to share a fact or two at the bar the next time hops are discussed!
First off, let’s discuss what makes hops smell and taste the way they do. (Warning: mild science)
Hops cones contain Lupulin glands, which are the active ingredient of hops. Lupulin contains resins and essential oils that contribute flavor and aroma when added to beer. If you break down the hops resin into its parts, there’s both soft and hard resins. Soft resin contains alpha and beta acids, which are definitely more widely known
To kick things off, we’re hitting on our long-time favorite—Citra. Since it’s emergence on the scene, it’s been pretty much the benchmark for American-bred hops. Citra can lend some incredible fruit and citrus flavors to any beer, but where does it come from and how did it become the highly sought after hop that it is today?
Citra, previously known as HBC 394, was released for the public in 2007 by the Hop Breeding Company in Yakima, Washington. It was first bred way back in 1990, when two unknown varieties were crossed and given the name X-114. Breweries were given samples of X-114 until Widmer Brothers, Deschutes, and Sierra Nevada decided to team up and plant acreage of it. Homebrewers, don’t get your hopes up trying to find rhizomes of Citra, it’s been patented and only specific growers can grow it.
Citra was bred with:
50% Hallertauer Mittelfrüh
25% U.S. Tettnanger
25% East Kent Golding, Bavarian, Brewers Gold, and unknown hops.
Alpha Acids 11-13%
Beta Acids 3.5-4.5%
Alpha-Beta Ratio 2.9-3.1
Cohumulone (% of alpha acids): 22-24%
Total Oils (Mls. per 100 grams dried hops) 2.2-2.8
Myrcene (as % of total oils) 60-65%
Caryophyllene (as % of total oils) 6-8%
Humulene (as % of total oils) 11-13%
Farnesene (as % of total oils) 0%
Storage (% alpha acids remaining after 6 months storage at 20° C) 75%
Now those are some pretty scientific numbers, but the thing to look out for is the Myrcene levels. Myrcene is one of the 4 main essential oils in hops, and contributes a citrusy, orange flavor with a fairly similar, pungent aroma. You can read more about Myrcene here.
So how can I tell if there’s Citra in this beer?
First off, the flavors and aromas Citra puts out are pretty amazing. Strong citrus and tropical fruits such as pineapple and passion fruit push their way to the front, with softer flavors of mango and guava Present but not overpowering. To sum it up, Citra is fruity, heck even juicy.
Want to indulge on beers with Citra in them? Here’s a few Colorado beers that are known to use these amazing hops:
Superpower – Comrade Brewing Company
Citradelic – New Belgium Brewing
Single Hop Citra – Station 26 Brewing
It’s a wildly popular hop, so the chances your local brewery has something with it are fairly good. Just ask your brewer!
Is there anything else you want to know? Let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to include it in the next post!
Up next: Azacca!