Alpha Assets

Brewery and Country of Origin: Hill Farmstead Brewery of 403 Hill Road, Greensboro Bend, Vermont, 05842, USA

Date Reviewed: 7-06-16

Thanks to the trendy worlds of hipsterdom and yuppieland, many brewers are feeling market driven pressures to produce strong hoppy pale ales, with India Pale Ales leading the charge. This is all well and good, if you're an IPA fanatic, but if instead of dried up flowers, you prefer burnt up grains, this may be a problem. Some breweries have already begun to replace traditional ingredients in beers other than bitter ales to impart IPA like qualities in styles like lagers (India Pale Lagers) and stouts (Black IPAs). These can be really great beers, but some believe this is bringing a bit of homogeneity to the overall craft beer market. Fortunately, some brewers are revolting, sort of. Instead of trying to make impossibly bitter beers that make the novice drinker cry, some breweries like Tree House and Trillium have been producing strong double IPAs which don't necessarily impart eye watering bitterness on the aroma notes. And this is due to their use of different hop varieties with varying levels of Alpha Acids. These are chemical compounds which are responsible for the bitter qualities of beer. As you may or may not know, hops were originally added to pale ales as natural preservatives in an era when modern refrigeration wasn't a thing, especially on merchant ships headed to India. Alpha Acids are usually portrayed as a percentage of the overall weight of the hop flower, usually between 5-15%. Higher percent varieties are better at making bitter beers, but acids are only part of what the end result is. During the boiling process of brewing, the longer hops are in the wort increases the bitterness of the beer. Worts can also be dry hopped if the brewer chooses to make their beer more aromatic. But all other things equal, more alpha acids means a more bitter beer. Hops used in lagers tend to be less than 4%, while IPA hop varieties usually start at 8%. The Citra hop is actually a trademarked variety developed and owned by the descriptively named Hop Breeding Company originally released in 2007. The flower features alpha acid percentages usually falling somewhere around 11-15%, about where Chinook hop flowers are as well.
Date Sampled: 6-26-16 At: 30 Parsons Street, Brighton, Boston, MA 02135, USA
Beer Style: American Double/Imperial IPA
Alcohol by Volume: 8.00%
Serving Type: Brewery Growlette, 16 oz Mason Jar Glass
Rating: 4.21


Double Citra pours smoothly with a moderate amount of carbonation action, producing a medium high density three quarters inch tall foam head with a white color and an above average retention rate. This beer has a hazy, unfiltered appearance with a high amount of fine floating sediment included. As a result, this beer has only a dull shine, but a bright golden amber colored glow in light. This beer shows off no cascading, a moderate amount of effervescent effect, and no settling. There is a moderate amount of lacing that remains on the glass.


This IPA has a hop oriented (if you couldn't tell by the name) aroma bursting with strong bitter lime citrus fruit and tropical like character. This beer starts off with a floral bouquet of pine and spice filled American hops and shifts toward a more malty secondary and sweeter yeast notes full of sweet banana and clove notes. This beer's medium-low prominence aroma may be a bit restrained, but it does still help to enhance the delicate aromatic hoppy flavors of this beer.


This is a medium light bodied brew with a below average weight, a medium low viscosity, and a fairly high amount of carbonation, making this a casual, easy to drink and versatile beer good for the summer, despite an elevated alcoholic strength. This beer is crisp and somewhat refreshing with a lighter and airy feel. There is a fairly dry finish which offers a solid amount of lingering crispness with no alcohol bite or warming. Overall, this is a smooth beer which is good for all seasons of the year.


As this is a double IPA with a strong hop premise, you'd expect this beer to be full of fresh hop character, complete with an array of tropical fruit like notes, a strong citrus accent with fruits like lime, melon and grapefruit, and a good deal of delicate spicy pine and clove notes, and you wouldn't be disappointed. All of this is mixed in with a sweeter pale malt secondary with banana notes. This beer has a dry finish with a solid bitter aftertaste which lingers for some time. There are no alcohol or metallic notes. Throughout this beer has a somewhat pepper like undertone and overall, this is a very well balanced beer which should appeal to most beer drinkers in the middle of the hop spectrum.

Our Take

Make no mistake, this is an extremely good beer. Very well rounded with strong and subtle notes arranged in a deep buttery hop flavor profile which rounds out with a satisfying crisp bitter finish. This beer is fairly strong in alcoholic strength, but it certainly doesn't drink like it, and it contains no overpowering, tear jerking nasal resins which should make people who are tired of over the top super bitter beers happy. This is a smooth and easy to drink beer which has the richness of a imperial, and the drinkability of a session, which makes this beer a fairly versatile beverage for both the summer and the fall. If IPA's aren't exactly your thing, you may still find a lot to be happy about in this beer as it is a bit more restrained than most of its hopped up contemporaries. Of course, this isn't probably a beer which you'll find at bars or stores often, especially if you're not from Vermont, but if you do head up to the Green Mountain State, definitely keep your eyes peeled, because if you are able to find the Double Citra, you will be rewarded handsomely. We were able to acquire a growlette of it from a friend who deliberately made the trip up for the purpose of purchasing gourmet fermented malt based beverages. This beer's citrus hop like character makes it a great pairing option for Barbeque, sharp cheddars, smoked meats, cheesecake, and Thanks-A-Lot Girl Scout cookies.