Plunking a slice of lime, lemon, or orange on the side of a glass of beer is a distinctly American tradition — one this writer wishes would kindly die. Not only do oils found in the peels of these fruits hinder head formation and rob you of precious aroma; they’re unnecessary. Brewers are already skilled at incorporating citrus flavors right into a beer, using the fruit to harmonize with similar notes found in hops or to spice up smooth wheat. Reach for one of these refreshing citrus-accented ales at your next pool party and you’ll never need to waste time cutting lime wedges again.
Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
When San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits decided to cook up a batch of its popular Sculpin IPA with an addition of grapefruit, they couldn’t have known the monster they were creating. This beer flies off the shelves, delighting drinkers with an aroma that tickles nose hairs with grapefruit peel bright as sunshine. Grapefruit Sculpin’s citrus enhances the beer but doesn’t overpower it, giving you the fruit’s pithy bitterness and resinous peel, followed by grassy and floral tones before a snappy finish. Bottles of the 7-percent ABV brew are available in Arizona now; cans hit California in April.
Concentrated Sanguinello blood orange juice adds tongue-clasping acidity (and nearly two percentage points of ABV) to Lagunitas’ New Dogtown Pale Ale in this new addition to the brewery’s One-Hitter series. The aroma is like an orange fallen to earth — zesty peel met with moist soil — and the flavor is nearly sour with tangy citrus juice. Blood oranges have a powerful (and to me, not totally pleasant) flavor, so go after this 7.9-percent brew only if you really like them.
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Huss Grapefruit Gargoyle
Another twist on a classic. Grapefruit Gargoyle gets its name from additions of the rind and juice of grapefruits as well as citrus- and mango-flavored Gargoyle hops, but Huss Brewing Co.'s That’ll Do IPA provides its base. Supernova-bright grapefruit and honey-drizzled biscuits lead the aroma, while the flavor mixes resinous citrusy and floral hop notes with milder citrus.
Phoenix Ale Orange Peel IPA
Premiering in cans this week, this seasonal IPA from Phoenix Ale Brewery utilizes citrus-forward hops like Chinook and Cascade to accent the addition of sweet orange. The earthy, toasted malt character of this 6.4-percent ABV brew is more substantial than in others on this list, making it a good choice for drinkers seeking less bitterness and mellower citrus flavors.
Schöfferhoffer, on the other hand, is the beer of choice for those who want nothing but citrus flavor. Billed as the world’s first hefeweizen grapefruit beer, the Frankfurt-brewed radler is a 50/50 blend of German-style wheat ale and grapefruit juice. Truthfully, Schöfferhoffer tastes more like carbonated grapefruit soda than beer, and at just 2.5-percent ABV it’s not going to get you on a pool-party level. Good news, though: it does make a fantastic Greyhound.