Review #92 – Chorlton Citra Sour 86/100
I think this is maybe the fourth beer I have had from Chorlton brewery in Manchester and with each sip I take they seem to move one rung up the ladder towards the ranks of my favourite breweries. Chorlton brewery has entered the realms of my top ten breweries in the UK, they are really doing some fantastic work under that bridge in Manchester, really commendable work from our Mancunian neighbours.
I haven’t read much about this particular beer from Chorlton but I would guess that it has been purposely inoculated with Lactobacillus Brevum (this is what they’ve used previously and the same clean lactic acid tartness would suggest it has been used again). Lactobacillus Brevum is a bacterium which produces lactic acid from sugar, after the inoculation the beer is held at a temperature best suited to this strain of bacteria, for what time period I don’t know but I’d guess between one and two days based on the sourness. After this hold period, the bacteria in the mash have produced the desired amount of lactic acid to impart a slight tartness on the beer. I presume after this step the Lactobacillus Brevum are killed off, usually by raising the temperature, after this the beer is fermented with yeast. During the boil, no hops have been added, as a result there is no hop bitterness in this beer. The only hops that are used are Citra hops which are added to the fermenter, as they are not boiled, the alpha acids are not released from the hops, they do however add aroma and flavour to the beer. Fact: alpha acids that are released from hops to give beer its bitterness can kill the bacteria that produce lactic acid, this is why it is important not to add a lot of hops to the boil if you are planning on inoculating your beer with a lactic acid producing bacteria.
Chorlton are doing something very nice indeed with their beers, they are making sours that have complex flavour profiles while not being overly dominated with pungent levels of lactic acid. They are floral, tantalising, refreshing and incredibly interesting.
This one was neck and neck with the amarillo sour I previously had a couple of weeks ago but I think this one just tips over the edge as my favourite of the two, that may be because I am a sucker for citra hops.
Out of the bottle and into a third pint glass, the citra sour pours a hazy amber colour producing a frothy almost sticky head that laces the glass quite nicely.
On the nose I’m greeted with a generous dose of lactic acid accompanied by zesty aromas of lemon curd and sugar covered pink grapefruit, these sharp flavours move on to slightly softer aromas of clove spiced oranges and sweet honey.
On the palate, what was picked up on the nose is present in massive doses on the palate, a composition of sharp lemon and grapefruit rind, bitter orange marmalade, pine resin with a touch of aromatic herbal notes. The level of lactic acid is at a very palatable level, producing a wonderfully clean beer without dominating the flavour profile. The level of sourness carries the delicate hop flavours very well. A great beer from Chorlton, I’ll be reviewing the waimea sour next.