Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Green Flash Citra Session IPA (Hop Odyssey)

A trusted barkeep queried, “Why not call a session IPA, a pale ale?” Surely, the quick answer to the "session" thing is “marketing.”  But, the long of it is that the marketing has effectively created an entirely new class of beer.  And of this class – the session IPA – the Green Flash Citra Session IPA (from their Hop Odyssey series) may be the very best.

from the Hop Odyssey Series
The Green Flash Brewing Company
4.5% ABV

Let's begin by discussing the showcase ingredient of this beer, the Citra hop.  Citra is a relatively new hop variety, and has accumulated in a short time strong adoration.  Two beers considered by many among the best, the Kern River Citra DIPA and Three Floyds’ Zombie Dust, both also feature this particular strain of hop.  Your reviewer has not yet had the great fortune to sample either of these acclaimed brews.

That said, the Citra hop is so acidic and assertive with big, bold tropical flavors that it is surely a variety that one either loves or hates, not both, and likely nothing in-between.  

As will be shown, the same can be said of the Green Flash Citra Session IPA…

...So, let's get on with it. 

The Citra Session was served fresh, mid-Summer, at a favorite Washington, D.C. hangout, Regional Food and Drink.  

In the glass, this beer, though surprisingly clear, maintained a yellowish, nearly orange hue.  While not fully translucent, the liquid blurred instead of blocked opposing images.  A soapy, although hardly thick head topped the beer.

There was a sort of funky yet appealing overall flavor to this Hop Odyssey, likely owing to the distinctive nature of the Citra hop variety.  That aspect was reminiscent of lychee; perhaps a little “weird,” difficult to effectively describe, but generally pleasing to taste.  It was the sort of uniqueness that undoubtedly makes this beer, like the Citra hop itself, one to love.  Or hate.

In this case, chose love.  

The Citra hop announced its presence immediately with a pungent “stinky” aroma.  The air surrounding this drinker’s nose was like that of a cramped living room on Christmas Day; full-on pine tree.  And the entirety of the tree too; including the musky, almost dirty scent of the soil in which it grows.

First sip revealed a satisfying betrayal of the “session” moniker.  The flavor profile of the Citra IPA was much stronger than others sharing the style.   While the body was thin and even a bit watery, it nevertheless delivered tremendous taste.  The sheer volume of flavor was a welcomed surprise.

The tongue was rewarded initially with mild hop spiciness that quickly tapered.  The prominent flavor characteristic, though, was similar to that of the aroma: coniferous pleasantness.

Second to the piney nature was another trait familiar to west coast IPAs: a suggestion of freshly mowed lawn.    The Citra IPA finished delectably with a lingering and surprisingly lemony aftertaste.  

So far, all good, but what was bad about the Citra Session IPA?  It certainly lacked balance.  There was little malt presence to speak of, and the Citra, as a bittering agent, only packed a very mild spice bite.    

Also, about that Citra?  Its “dirty” aspects may not appeal to all.  There was a slight hint of sweaty shirt, as unseemly as that is, in both scent and flavor.  This note, though demure, reflected a wild onion influence.  And the Citra, in this case, seemed more earthy when tropical was anticipated.

Without doubt, however, the good far outshined the bad.  As far as session IPAs go, as the kids say, this one is "up there." 

Many excellent brewers have taken their stabs at the session IPA market.  Founders, in this reviewer's opinion, did poorly with their All Day IPA.  Lagunitas did better with their DayTime.  But Green Flash has surpassed both of these fine craft breweries in this particular style. 

Due mostly to the strength of its flavor profile, much more robust than its peers, the Citra Session IPA, so far, appears to be best in class.

And, thus Green Flash's Citra Session IPA earns 4 out of 5 possible stars from  and a full recommendation.  A session IPA par excellence that would only be better with a bit more balance.  

While available, find this beer on tap.  And, of course....


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