One of the defining features of the American Craft Beer scene these last 20+ years has been brewers willing to color outside the lines. Sometimes, they barely stay on the page, random mixtures of pigmentation everywhere, seemingly a blur. For example, the current hot trend of American Orange Ales. Called IPAs, they’re IPAs only in the brewers mind. On the page of the coloring book, these beers would be the orange elephant with purple polka dots.
Sometimes, the aspiring artist stays closer to form, like the “Black IPAs” that morphed into Cascadian Dark Ales. Big hop presence, with the addition of the roasted notes of a Porter or Stout. The picture of this ale in our coloring book would be a tiger, albeit a blue tiger with red stripes. Sometimes it’s a yellow and green zebra, with a pink horn making it a whole new batch of the family tree, the zebracorn. The glowing hues stay within the lines, but there’s clearly been some cross-contact in the crayon box. Our beer today defies any real style classification, perhaps making it the fuzzy caterpillar that evolves into the beautiful butterfly on the next page.
The soon to be 21 year old Boundary Bay Brewery has been trying things out of their usual comfort zone the last few years, and their new Citraweisse carries on with this trend. The base Genus of this beer is likely the Berliner Weisse, a regional specialty of the German capital. You might be familiar with Disco Lemonade from Aslan, a very nice take on the style. It also features some characteristics of the Krystalweisse, a filtered wheat beer. Like the recently reviewed Kettle One Blonde, this beer is also kettle soured, with Lactobacillus, but seemingly in a smaller dose than the Blaine beer. The American twist is the addition of a healthy dose of Citra hops.
Served in a shaker pint glass, the brew had a very lightly hazy straw-gold color (similar to an American Pale Wheat Ale, to confuse the style purists even more), and had an inch of bright white head that dissipated at a moderately quick pace, and left no appreciable lacing. The scent had a light and gentle base of grain notes that solidly supported the tartness that came through with it. At the back was a pleasing lemon aroma, from those Citra hops.
The flavors were aligned with the fragrant features nicely. There was no unexpected veering off the page to add a splash of chartreuse to the penguin next door. Tartness at the front of the tongue flowed into a combination of barley and wheat that provided a break, preparing the palate for the more sour tang at the back. The lemony notes were a bit bolder as well, and lingered nicely on the finish.
The body was crisp, clean, and evenly balanced, with a smooth feel. The finish was dry, and a bit sharp, with the citrus flavor and sourness providing an interesting tingle. Drinkability was good, this would have made for a great brew after yard work during our recent stretch of summer. It would be refreshing after a long bike ride, and with its low 3.7% ABV, you would still be able to move on to other things. I might pair it with a sandwich made of a bold cold cut, Pastrami on Rye perhaps.
In Bellingham’s colorful beer zoo, this butterfly flits pleasantly above the more bold IPAs and stolid stouts, adding its own flair. On tap in the breweries beer garden, this will be a nice companion for the waning days of the season. Due to its confluence of styles, this brew is a bit hard to score. I enjoyed it, and will likely have more during the upcoming Bellingham Beer Week. It earns an enjoyable 5.9 on my 1-10 scale.