I am a strong believer that the best way to learn about beer is to brew it yourself. Many breweries make an active effort to involve all of their employees in the brewing process, assuring that they all know where the product they are selling comes from. Every year all of the employees at Harpoon Brewery can participate in a homebrew competition, and the winner is determined by a taste test at their company outing. In 2013 over 30 teams submitted their own brews and the winner by popular vote was Citra Victorious. Citra Victorious is an American Pale ale brewed with Cascade and Citra hops along with grapefruit peel. I thought it was especially interesting that Citra Victorious was brewed by a team of five women. There is still an all-to-pervasive mentality that beer is a man’s drink, even though women are playing an increasingly prevalent role in the brewing industry. I think it’s great that it was this beer that won the blind tasting, and that Harpoon thought so much of the beer that it became the 50th brew in their 100 barrel series.
Harpoon Citra Victorious pours a deep amber, slightly cloudy with a mild white head. The smell is strong, mostly grapefruit and citrus with a little pine. The taste is also hop forward, with notes of grapefruit, lemon, woods and earth. Even with all of the hop flavor and aroma this is clearly a pale ale and not an IPA, the bitterness is pretty mild. There is a significant malt character, whole grain bread and a touch of caramel. The body is medium, nicely balanced between some malty sweetness and bitter hops, and drinkable at 5.8% ABV. The finish is also clean and with just a touch of sweet and tart lingering on the tongue. This is a very solid version of an American pale ale, tons of hop flavor and aroma without being overly bitter. It is no surprise that Citra Victorious won Harpoon’s employee homebrew competition! Hoppy Boston score 4.25/5.
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