Forget your winter warmers. Forget your cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Forget anything dark, I'm going fresh, bright, sharp citrus this month and kickin' it IPA. While most people look forward to drinking and enjoying all the specialty holiday beers that are put out, I was craving something simple and awesome. And I found perhaps the most simple and most awesome IPA I've had to date. Which can only mean that I'm even more awesome than I thought.
For the first time in quite a while, I was surprised by a beer. I had tried several Knee Deep beers in the past but was never overly impressed with them. While they all got high ratings and rave reviews on beer websites, I always found them to be good but not great. Well made but nothing all that special. Enjoyable but ultimately forgettable. So when I was perusing my local beer store, I only knew two things: 1) I was looking for 2 bombers to drink for this month's blog as opposed to a 4 or 6 pack; and 2) I wanted an IPA. When taking into account all the seasonal offerings combined with beers I've already tried, my selection became much more limited than I would have expected. Yet, there was Knee Deep Citra, a beer I'd heard good things about but never tried. While I wasn't about to buy two 22oz beers based on reviews for a brewery I was never previously wowed with, the price point and lack of selection helped push me towards going with this single hop brew. Fate must have been looking down on me this post-Thanksgiving day, as I ended up buying what may be the greatest IPA I've ever had. The aroma, taste, palate, and appearance were all out of this world. It was as if someone created an ultra-fruit made up of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon and orange. Perhaps some melon and papaya in there too. All with a sharp piney bite at the end of each sip. It really was remarkable that these flavors permeated from first pour all the way through last sip. I was giddy with joy over this beer. I wanted to tell all my friends and wish I had bought more than just 2 at the time. I'm unsure if it was a new recipe, extra fresh bottles, or just that this beer was made for my taste buds, but whatever the circumstances surrounding my experience with Citra, I am now a fan for life of this beer and will certainly give the brewery a second look when shopping.
The thing with great beers is that they go down much faster than bad ones. Simple math really. Or logic? Or...physiology? Whatever it is, I pounded through the first of the two bottles in record time. While the 7% abv that Citra was packing is right in the middle of my sweet spot, it practically drank like a session beer. The carbonation left a mild tingling on my tongue that reminded me very much of days past when a great blunt would make my whole head buzz with pleasure. While those days are long gone (now weed does nothing but create hunger and paranoia...fuck aging...fuck it in the ass!), this replacement was perfectly suitable and enjoyable. And where the first bottle went down fast, furious, and fantastically, the second bottle took a little longer and created a different sensation --- it made me tired. Perhaps my body was still reeling from a long day over the smoker preparing for Thanksgiving. Perhaps I was still digesting the pounds of brisket and potatoes. Whatever the reason, a sudden sense of fatigue crept in and became quite difficult to fight off. If not for the intense flavors and aromas of Citra, I likely wouldn't have finished bottle #2 and instead just passed out for the night. Thankfully, I pushed through, started a new episode of It's Always Sunny and happily finished my allotted amount before happily entering the world of sleepy-fun-happy-times.
Being that nearly everything about this drinking experience was near perfect, I was sure that ol' man fate would take his trust karma-rod and rape my soul with it. There was no way a beer this good, this drinkable could possibly allow me to come out unscathed. I was certain when I fell asleep that I was in for a day of hurt ahead of me. Unlike all of my other drinking escapades (as well as every other morning), the dogs managed to sleep in until my wife woke up. They must have been equally tired from the holiday events, as the entire family slept well through the night and into the morning. After finally waking, my body was painfully quenched of thirst. Before any coffee was brewed, a large jar of water was finished as I watched cartoons with the dogs on the couch. Soon after, coffee, breakfast, and a shower followed. By noon, all systems were go and I was ready to tackle another day of this mini-vacation.
If it wasn't made clear in my opening paragraph, I really dig Knee Deep Citra. What made it an even better experience than just being a great beer was that it fulfilled exactly what I was seeking out this month. And it surpassed my expectations of what a good IPA is like. Whereas, I had previously held Ballast Point Sculpin as the high-water mark of a great readily available IPA, Knee Deep Citra now clearly takes that title.
Now, if only I could find it again...as every attempt to locate a bottle since that day has come up short. So perhaps its not that readily available, and perhaps that's what will make it all the more special when it is.