Summertime and the drinkin' is easy. That's because it's the season of the shandy, a refreshing, crushable 50-50 blend of lager beer cut with carbonated fruit soda (usually sparkling lemonade), served ice cold, preferably outside on the beach or under a giant beer garden umbrella.
Lately, some American brewers have taken a cue from this traditional summer drink and begun infusing their hopped-up IPAs and pale ales with citrus flavors. Instead of lemonade though, they're using flavors like grapefruit, blood orange and nectarine.
It makes sense—American hop profiles are often compared to citrus fruits like tangerine and grapefruit. And indeed, one of the most coveted American hop varieties is called Citra after its concentrated yet smooth citrusy aromas. The call-and-response hop and citrus flavors practically go hand in hand. Here are five of our favorite citrus-infused pale ales to try, along with instructions for a DIY version at home.
Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
San Diego's Ballast Point took its flagship Sculpin IPA and turned it up a notch by imbuing it with bittersweet grapefruit peel. The heady grapefruit qualities amplify the inherent citrus and mango flavors of Sculpin's Simcoe and Centennial hops. ($15 for a six-pack)
Evil Twin Femme Fatale Sudachi
Globe-trotting Brooklyn-based brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø takes a base IPA fermented with Brettanomyces and infuses it with this obscure (in the U.S., anyway) Japanese citrus fruit. The result is dry, crackling and somewhat tart, with a supremely clean finish and just a bite of fresh citrus on the finish—one of the most refreshing beers we've tried recently and nearly perfect for sweltering weather. ($12 for a 22-ounce bottle)
Moody Tongue Sliced Nectarine IPA
This rust-colored IPA from Chicago's culinary-centric brewery, Moody Tongue, has huge aromas of nectarine and peaches, but overall, the citrus flavors are subdued. It's more of a straightforward IPA with a subtle citrus sting than an amped-up IPA shandy. ($10 to $12 for a four-pack)
This special OneHitter series summer release from Lagunitas is a hoppy pale ale brewed with wheat and suffused with a Sanguinello blood orange concentrate produced in-house. It's sweet and citrusy with magnified orange aromas that seamlessly bolster the beer's generous hop profile. ($11 for a six-pack)
Blue Mountain A Hopwork Orange
Robust and fruity, Virginia's Blue Mountain blends natural orange flavoring into a base IPA made with Cascade, Simcoe, and Centennial hops. The result is copper tinged and hazy with a deep but well-balanced orange-spiked undertow and a bright citrus aroma. Bonus points for the super-summer-friendly aluminum can packaging. ($12 for a six-pack)
Want to create your own citrus-infused IPA at home? Pour a 12-ounce bottle of your favorite agressively hopped American IPA or pale ale into a glass—we love Sierra Nevada's Torpedo Extra IPA or Stone's Enjoy By variants—and top with a floater of fresh-squeezed grapefruit, orange or other citrus juice (about one and a half ounces), and a dash of simple syrup to taste.
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