Let’s start off this week with a Nashville brewery and their Citra IPA.
East Nashville Beer Works is, not surprisingly, located on Nashville’s (north)east side.
Running on the slogan of “Beer is Community,” ENBW focuses on their local community and, despite being around for about five years, they were draft only until earlier this year when they started canning a few of their beers.
They have one of my favorite beer names – Brut Willis – a brut IPA with one of my favorite actor’s likeness gracing the logo. But today, I have one of their other year-round offering that’s new to the canning line: East Bank.
This “Citra IPA” has a solid 7% ABV and 74 IBU but uses Centennial hops in it as well as Citra hops. A four-pack of cans runs about $12, which is pretty reasonable.
It poured a dark, cloudy straw color with very little head ever accumulating. Airy and vapid bubbles appeared but never reached more than half a finger high and almost immediately vanished into a razor thin eggshell white line across the top of the brew.
On the nose there were big, bright notes of citrus fruit like orange, grapefruit, and lemon with pineapple and mango notes peeking out occasionally. The aroma was very well balanced with a nice malt backing that added some extra sweetness with undertones of caramel and biscuits.
It starts out with a silky-smooth mouthfeel with, again, almost no carbonation. Immediately the hops strike with all those tropical fruit flavors.
There was a rush of fruit rind, with a highly bitter twinge of grapefruit peel and lemon. Those other citrus fruits were barely noticeable but every few sips or so there’d be a nice reprieve of mango or tangerine.
The malts appear and vanish in a flash early on, bringing a bready/yeasty flavor that is quickly subdued by the Citra hops.
Midway through it all, the grapefruit rind easily overpowers the malt and all other aspects of the beer and basically carries the brew until it ends.
And speaking of how East Bank ends, it does so somewhat dryly with a lingering hop bitterness (once again, it’s that overpowering grapefruit rind flavor). After every few sips, it’s bitter and dry enough that it requires a swig of water to keep going.
At first, I wasn’t a fan. That sharp bitterness really caught me by surprise after how balanced and tasty the smell was. However, after a while – between the beer warming up and my palate getting used to the hop shock – this brew started to grow on me.
Don’t give up on this one as it really calms down towards the second half. It turned into a much better beer after sitting for about 20 minutes, with the bitterness fading some and the lemon and other flavors cutting into the grapefruit more.
Up next, I have one of Illinois’ oldest breweries - Two Brothers.
Two Brothers has been around for more than 22 years now, opening their doors in Warrenville, Illinois (a far west suburb of Chicago) back in 1996. They now have quite a few locations open throughout Chicagoland and even one in Scottsdale, Arizona.
They have a solid distribution and can be found in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Today I have one of their newest year-round beers - Love of Hops, a hazy IPA brewed with Amarillo, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops. A six-pack runs the typical $10 and each of the cans has a moderate 5.9% ABV.
Love of Hops pours a hazy copper/orange color with two fingers of dense eggshell white head topping it off. As the foam slowly fizzles away, it laces the top of my glass with a nice webwork of bubbles.
It has an intriguing aroma to it, blending tropical fruits with a dash of earthy/grassy hops. There are the usual citrus fruit scents, like grapefruit and lemon, but it also has notes of peach, apricot, passion fruit, mango, and melon that create a nice medley.
My first sip starts with a flash of carbonation that quickly leads to a surprising bitter twinge. The hops really showing off their power here. However, that bitterness seems to vanish quickly and, by the third or forth sip, the sting has almost faded completely.
Up front this brew is all tropical fruits. Grapefruit peel, lemon, and tangerine strike first but are followed closely behind by the peach and apricot flavors.
Then, midway through, a sticky resinous feeling spreads across my tongue and is accompanied by some grassy and floral flavors that cut into the otherwise fruity characteristics.
As the beer begins to fade away, there is one last pop of grapefruit and mango that slowly dwindles down.
Left behind is the resinous feeling, some dryness, and a hint of citrus rind bitterness that doesn’t fade away for quite a few minutes.
I was initially surprised by how bitter the beer started off but, after a couple sips, that seemed to disappear for the most part. I wouldn’t call this a true New England or Hazy IPA. Instead it’s more of a blend, as there are some West Coast qualities to it as well and it’s not that juicy or hazy. However, Love of Hops did seem to get easier to drink with every sip.
The flavors and price were solid but it did finish dry and have that bitterness to it early on.