Citra Ass Down: A Memorable IPA From Kentucky

photo by Kevin Gibson
photo by Kevin Gibson

National IPA Day is Aug. 6, and we at Alcohol Professor are celebrating the days leading up to it with posts on a few interesting IPAs, some of which may be familiar and some of which may not.

Kentucky is not exactly an epicenter of brewing, but it’s making strides. One of the prides of Kentucky is Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse in Louisville, a brewery that has grown quickly into an entity that distributes across the U.S. and into Western Europe and Canada.

And after a recent expansion that brought about a $1.7 million production brewhouse, Against the Grain began canning one of its signature beers, a double IPA called Citra Ass Down. Citra Ass Down has been available in 22-ounce bombers for a couple of years, but it is now making its way out into the world in a broader way. You may or may not be able to find it in your area (yet), but it’s worth seeking out.

I say this in part because it’s a beer that has a special meaning to me in that it was the first beer I can remember drinking that put a forward focus on Citra hops, the engineered hybrid hop variety that started its rise to popularity from inception in 2008. And breweries all over are embracing its floral fruit additions to American-style IPAs. I also say it because it’s just a darn good beer.

Citra Ass Down is an IPA that starts with Pale, Vienna, Munich and wheat malt, and employs Columbus hops for bittering, but Citra – with its citrusy, fruity hop addition to whatever beer it graces– takes center stage. It is added at the end of the boil for flavor and aroma, followed by another heaping helping after fermentation (with some Centennial hops as well) to add to the front end of the beer. The result is an IPA that packs 8.0 percent ABV but maintains an amazingly accessible 68 IBU on the bitterness front.

I bought my first four-pack of Citra Ass Down cans recently and was eager to revisit the beer that had made such an impression on me previously. The packaging is classic modern craft beer – off-the-wall artwork and a self-awareness that brings a smile, including this beer nerd satire: “This beer is not candy or mother’s milk. It is not brewed by gypsies or aliens, nor does it contain any zombie dirt. This is a Double IPA brewed with Citra hops. It is sticky, hoppy and delicious. Simply drink it and enjoy it. Don’t hoard this beer. Citra Ass Down and drink it now.”

And it’s what’s inside the pint-sized can that really matters. I was happy to learn that what lies within absolutely lives up to the draft version I’ve become accustomed to in my visits to the brewery (which, lucky for me, is just a couple of miles from my house).

Anyway, Citra Ass Down is a wonderful IPA to pour and look at, a classic hazy orange beauty with plenty of lacing. On the front end, there is plenty of malt sweets for the nose, but it’s the citrusy quality that stands forth from the pour forward. In a word, it’s inviting.

Take a drink, and you get a diverse flavor profile that starts with the subtle malt backbone but quickly gives way to grapefruit-cum-lemon, followed by a dry crispness and a slightly metallic finish.

Interestingly, the first time I tried this beer, it was a palate blast – I wasn’t versed in Citra then. But with so many beers now employing this hop variety, Citra Ass Down is a bit less of a revelation for my palate personally than it was the first time. Hey, that’s the nature of the craft beer scene.

Regardless, this is one that will never disappoint. Ask your local craft beer specialty store to get you a four-pack. You won’t be sorry. It’s a legendary sipper.