Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Brewing a Kern River Citra DIPA clone

When I was in San Diego a year ago, I was able to try a lot of fantastic new beers. Unfortunately, not every beer that I had hoped to find was available to me at the time. Some beers are just so sought after, that as soon as they are available in a beer store or beer bar, they can sell out pretty quickly. I'd say the #1 beer I really wanted to try that I couldn't find was Citra DIPA, made by Kern River Brewing Co. Currently rated #4 in the Imperial IPA category on Beer Advocate, it's supposed to be an excellent beer that has a high amount of Citra hops (of course) used during the brewing process, which would naturally provide a "strong pungent aroma" and a lot of the tropical fruits that one expects in the flavor. Anyone who has used Citra before can tell you that even a little bit goes a long way.

Every beer store that I checked in San Diego was out of Citra DIPA. When I started looking at beer lists online for the better beer bars in the area, I found that Hamiltons Tavern had just had a shipment in. We ended up there a couple of days later, but when I asked one of the bartenders if they still had it available, he informed me that they just sold out, and in fact, "I just had the last bottle myself. And it was awesome." Sonofa! Oh well, still a great beer bar, with lots of other awesome beers. So, I left San Diego resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn't get to try it anytime soon. And I haven't.

HOWEVER, luckily for me (and for lots of other homebrewers), the folks on the Can You Brew It podcast contacted Kyle Smith, the owner/brewmaster of Kern River Brewing, and he was kind enough to provide them with a homebrew recipe for Citra DIPA, which they were able to clone. I still had a pretty good supply of Citra hops on hand, so I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to really put them to use. I also hadn't brewed a DIPA in over a year, when I attempted ANOTHER highly-rated and sought-after DIPA, Russian River's Pliny the Elder (which is a great recipe and turned out pretty awesome, by the way... I suggest you try it if you're a fan of the style).

The Citra DIPA recipe (which can be downloaded as the podcast, and is also written out here) is, as expected, pretty interesting. The grist is roughly 80% 2-row, 5% Munich malt, 2.5% each of Honey and Wheat malt, and 5% each of Carapils and Crystal 10. I didn't have access to Crystal 10, and since it's actually pretty comparable to Carapils, I just subbed in some more of that.  That seems, to me, like a pretty high amount of nonfermentables for a DIPA, but the mash temp is quite low at 148 F, so the beer is supposed to finish quite dry, with a lot of fermentable sugars provided for the yeast.

And this doesn't even include the dry hops
The hop schedule is where this beer really stands out, of course. While the bittering addition is Nugget, there are four more hop additions for the flavor/aroma, all Citra. Note that the amounts used are nothing crazy (about an oz each), but keep in mind that as I mentioned, Citra is a very pungent, powerful hop variety. Throw in four different dry-hop additions (combination of Citra and Amarillo, another citrusy hop), and you have a beer that is bound to pack a lot of hop punch... and be more expensive to brew than others! The calculated IBUs for this beer was 69.4, but with a 20-minute whirlpool, it'd probably be closer to 90-100, about on par for a DIPA.

Kyle notes in the podcast that the beer should be racked to secondary after only about 3 days, when fermentation is roughly 80% complete, and then the dry-hopping process can begin (they do it "warm" at Kern River Brewing, as opposed to cooler temps). I've always read that fermentation should be completely done before you start dry-hopping, but obviously these guys know what they're doing, and it worked for Tasty (who brewed the beer for CYBI). However, I'll be away for several days and won't be able to keep a strict watch on the every-3-day dry-hop schedule, so I'll be waiting a little longer than 3 days before racking to secondary. Fermentation will therefore likely be completely finished, but it's better than the alternative - racking too early.

As for fermentation, the easy-going/neutral WLP001/Wyeast 1056 is the strain of choice, with fermentation temps around 67 F to keep things focused on the hops. I didn't have time to make a starter, so I used Fermentis US-05 Safale dry yeast (rehydrated); I've had to go this route before, and have had results similar to Wyeast 1056 American Ale.

I'm not sure what to expect with this beer. Since I never got to try the actual Citra DIPA, I have nothing to compare to, as usual. And I've used Citra in healthy amounts before, and the resulting beer has been very hop-strong. I'm really looking forward to the results of this recipe... hopefully, at the very least, it'll make a decent DIPA that'll tide me over until my next trip to San Diego.

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 73% efficiency): OG 1.070, FG 1.010, IBU 69.4, SRM 6, ABV 8%

5.32 kg Canadian 2-row
682 g Carapils
341 g Munich malt
168 g Honey malt
168 g Wheat malt

Nugget - 25 g (12.25% AA) @ 60 min
Citra - 28 g (12% AA) @ 15 min
Citra - 28 g @ 10 min
Citra - 28 g @ 5 min
Citra - 28 g @ flameout, begin 20-minute whirlpool

Dry-hop schedule:
33 g Citra & 14 g Amarillo for 3 days... then
20 g Citra for 3 more days... then
28 g Amarillo for 3 more days... then
28 g Citra for 3 more days.

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale dry yeast, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; mash water treated with 5 g of gypsum

- Brewed Sept 9th, 2012, with Jill. 50-minute saccharification rest with 17.35 L of water for a mash temp of 148 F. Mashed-out with 11.12 L of near-boiling water, resulting temp 167 F. Let rest for another 10 minutes, then vorlaufed 3-4 L and drained into kettle. Sparged with 8 L of 168 F water, stirred well, and left for 5 minutes before vorlaufing and draining into kettle again, for a total volume of close to 7 gallons (slightly over target).

- SG 1.054 (target 1.057). 60-minute boil. Began chilling 20 minutes after flameout and whirlpool; took about 40 minutes to get to 70 F. Poured into BB and set in ice water to drop temp a few more degrees. OG low at 1.065 (likely partially due to the bit of extra volume I had after boiling). When temp dropped to 66 F, pitched yeast, aerating by shaking well for several minutes before and after. Placed BB back in sink with a few ice packs to try to keep the temp in the high 60s.

10/9/12 - 12/9/12 - Over the first few days, fermentation took off in about 18 hours after pitching... activity got quite high by the second day, with some beer getting into the airlock. Bubbling 1-2 times per second, temp got as high as 70-72 F, but I managed to bring it quickly down to 68 F by adding ice packs to the water bath.

20/9/12 - Racked to secondary and added first dry-hop addition. Gravity 1.014 - 4 points above target FG, and I doubt it'll go down much more, if at all.

23/9/12 - Second dry-hop addition. Temps still around 70 F.

26/9/12 - Third dry-hop addition.

29/9/12 - Fourth and final dry-hop... smelling intensely Citra-y, as expected.

2/10/12 - Bottled with 120 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 5 gallons with max temp of 72 F reached.

4/11/12 - Despite the numbers being off, this really made a delicious beer... tasting notes.


  1. Interested to hear how this turns out for you. I did an IPA earlier this summer that was bittered with Simcoe, and had all Citra flavour and aroma. Not sure I really like Citra as a flavour hop. I was getting some of those cat pee notes that are sometimes mentioned being related to Citra.

    I think in the future I'll be saving my Citra for much later in the boil and for dry-hopping where I think it really shines.

    1. I used a pretty good amount of Citra in a single dry-hop for that Z.E.D. IPA I brewed for the NHC, along with an equal amount of Simcoe. It was pretty intense, so I'm curious to see what it's like mostly on its own. Especially with 4 different dry-hop additions!

      It's tough using a clone recipe for a beer that you've never actually been able to try... but I've just heard so many good things about Citra DIPA, I'm willing to give it a shot.