Out of nowhere came the Flying Dog Imperial IPA - Citra. In my reality this didn't exist until it popped up at The Green Lady here in hometown Chicago. Flying Dog is one of those brewers that may end up in your local supermarket next to the Kraft cheese, but they never miss on a beer. Their work is not always jaw-dropping but they don't ship swill. I had never seen an imperial single hop citra IPA before, and figured the Imperial Citra would be like a Zombie Dust on steroids. Citra hops bring a grapefruit and grassy flavor to any beer in which you insert them, and they're seriously aromatic. The question here would be how they blended together with the malts. As Ross Perot used to say, the devil is in the details.
Flying D did a great job. Green Lady presented it to me in a short, stout, rounded snifter which seemed to emphasize the beer's bulbous white head. Its color lies between a hazy orange and a bronzed yellow. Grapefruit dominates the nose as expected. Fresh bread saturates the air as well, and for good reason. This is a 10% beer that they malt heavily but not excessively. Every sip featured the citras' satisfyingly acidic bite, and the bready, mildly sweet malts nicely calmed things, remaining detectable but understated until the beer warms at the end. Citras bring forth strong flavors and lovely aromas but their harsh acids often make for a rugged drinking experience. Flying D's malt usage tamed these harsher elements without sacrificing the expected strong flavor. Bright grapefruit and tangerine flavors headline this show along with some slight herbaceousness. I had to get that word in for Shaun.
I suspect we'll see more imperial citras coming down the pike. You can bet that Mikkeller will ferment one; they already did a single hop IPA. Citras are the new black, the new iPhone, certainly the glamor hop of the moment. But nothing about this beer seems trendy or intentionally quirky. It maintains the classic structure of an imperial IPA. And there's never anything wrong with reverting to a classic. Everyone keeps harping on how Breaking Bad is the show to see right now. That may be true but I'm working my way through Mad Men. If Don Draper drank craft beer, this is certainly one he'd appreciate.
4.0 of 5 stars.