Thursday, 11 September 2014

Beer Review: Citra

This one has been sitting in the kitchen for quite some time. I picked it up because Oakham Ales is a good brewery and most people I know who drink beers and drink good beers tell me they are a brewery to watch. Anyway, it looked intriguing, what with the Green Man as art on the bottle, and I thought it would neatly fit the general milieu of this here blog that occasionally covers topics other than beer.

Tonight I shall be wordily and verbosely setting out the virtues and pitfalls of Citra. It is a good looking ale.

Yes, that is another bottle of Blue Fin Stout (link) in the background. They were on offer locally for less than a quid and, you know, it would be rude not to. There's a Double IPA there too if you look hard enough.

Would you like to know more?

This was not chilled(!) as it did not say it needed to be on the bottle. I like my beers to be room temperature and so I naturally complied with the lack of instruction to chill. This meant that there was more of a wisp of carbon dioxide upon the opening and a satisfying snick. For a generally produced and available ale this was not too strong and dissipated quickly. On pouring there was a bit of a head but it did not stick around and seemed to have an urgent appointment elsewhere. Colour was good, nice and golden, which I am going to take to be the point of the ale. The bottle makes claims about aroma but, without checking this, I noticed that the nose was tropical and not a little unlike the mango and orange cordial that I have in the kitchen too. Anna agreed that the aroma was tropical and we both sat and tried to work out what fruits. We elected to go with mango and orange in the end as it neatly encapsulated the tropicality and the citrus edge of the feeling we were getting. The bottle claims gooseberry and lychee. Well.

Taste-wise, the aroma is not indicative. In that sense it is a bit like Golden Glory (link) but the taste is nevertheless more rewarding. Whereas the promise of the nose was not carried through in the ale in Golden Glory there is still something of an adventure in this one. It starts with a moderately citrus spark at the beginning before fading to a quick hit of malty yeast and then back to a bitter ending. An aftertaste then lingers in the background, faintly tasting like having had something tropical. Can't speak for lychees, I don't think I've ever had an actual lychee (in school, when we brought outlandish fruit and veg I took leeks and, sure enough, no one had eaten them - I ate mine raw - and Matthew Cannon brought lychees. I refused point blank to try any, and anyway, he didn't offer), but there is a sense that something else has happened. It's not mango (in 2013, first time) and it's not oranges. Could be passionfruit I suppose, which I had had the flavour of in drinks but never from the fruit. Someone brought one of those to primary school too and it was off and reeked and put me off for years. I digress, there is a pleasant aftertaste but a feeling around the jaw that demands another drink.

This is the sort of ale that will have you drinking large amounts in one go and would have a repeat if you're not careful. At 4.6% ABV it's not a slouch, but nor is it a big hitter and so long as you're not driving anywhere I think it would stand up well to having more than the one. There's something in the taste that is moreish but also that is rich enough to prevent you just chugging the stuff back without noticing how much you're imbibing. I like that, seems almost like a common courtesy to prevent dronkoness holding full dominion, even twere two for the price of one. It reminds me of some of the Thornbridge stable actually, like the Wild Swan (link) or Halcyon (link).

Enjoy in the depths of the evening, you can have it with a meal but I would counsel that you give it full reign and have it later on, in company for sure but that's not a given. Have it in the warmth of a summer's even, if you chill it or have had a barbeque, or in the depths of winter clustered round a roaring fire. In autumn make sure that there is the smell of woodsmoke close by and the sharpness of the oncoming frost. In the srping chance the garden and enjoy the wetness of the coming rain as you sup. Kick back, stay focussed on the company and avoid anything that may be too stressful - talk politics and setting the world to rights. It is a refreshing beer and the bottle does not lie, even if it is a little pretentious.

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