By: Mike Smith
(Into The) Citra Galaxy
Style: NE-style Session IPA
Color: Hazy Gold
Malts: European Pale Ale Malt, Flaked (Unmalted) Oats
Hops: American Citra and Australian Galaxy
Yeast: London Ale III (Wyeast 1318)
Short Description: Soft, hoppy ale. Notes of tangerine, hints of peach.
(Into the) Citra Galaxy, while not a fruit beer, came to fruition as a “making lemonade out of life’s lemons” situation in the Autumn of 2017.
That year we had planned on brewing two separate batches of wet-hopped beer with fresh hops from our friends at Four Star Farms in Northfield, Mass. The first brew, Northfield Red, used fresh Centennial hops. The second had been designed to incorporate Rakau, a variety from New Zealand that the L’Etoiles were growing at the farm. Unfortunately, the crop of Rakau suffered a blight just before harvest and the whole year’s crop was lost. This put us in a situation where we had the malt to brew the beer, but the chosen hop was no longer available…
Luckily, brewers Mark and Filipe were working on a prototype for a new session ale in the style of a New England IPA. They had been playing around with a beer similar in strength to Hop Hop and Away, but utilizing a slightly darker base malt than the mix of Pilsner and wheat in the HH&A and fermenting it with London III yeast. This is the “classic” NEIPA strain known for producing beers with soft mouthfeel, stable haze, and accentuated “juicy” hop flavors and aromas. They had also hit on a very pleasing hop combination of American Citra and Australian Galaxy.
As we were deciding contingencies for the unavailable Mass Rakau wet hops, someone noticed that the grain we had acquired, with a few tweaks, was very similar to the prototypes that Mark and Filipe had been brewing. “Let’s just step this up to a full production batch,” someone suggested: Citra Galaxy Session Ale was born…
The beer, with its slightly more robust malt backbone complimented by a judicious addition of flaked oats, maintained the soft mouthfeel and “juicy” hop character of a New England IPA, but at a more “sessionable” (i.e. lower alcohol) strength. It became a hit in our Somerville taproom where it remains a popular selection whenever on tap. Customers and staff alike were consistently wondering when we would finally put it in cans. Well, with a slight change to the name (it is now “(Into the) Citra Galaxy”)) and some unbelievably awesome can art from Raul the Third, that time has finally come. We obviously were not anticipating the release of this beer in these bizarro times–but here we are.
In this crazy moment of social distancing, the very concept of a “Session Ale” takes on a new poingiency. I personally, and all of us at Aeronaut, would like to thank you, our valued friends, neighbors, and customers, for all your support in these trying times. We hope that in some small way beer can help maintain the slightest sense of normalcy amid the chaos. So until we can share one together in the taproom on the other side of this, I would like to raise a virtual toast to all of you. Stay healthy. Be safe. This, too, shall pass.
Cheers – Mike
Mike Smith is the Brewery Technical Director at Aeronaut. The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original author, and they do not necessarily represent those of Aeronaut Brewing Co.
Illustrations courtesy of Brit Weidel