The Hop Czar reigns supreme, or at least it does for me anyway. I’m talking about Bridgeport Hop Czar of course, a beer that I really enjoy and that may just be one of the best values in beer drinking today. Hop Czar is a breath of fresh air in today’s world of ever-increasing beer prices. I can get it in six-packs for about $7 these days, and my local Kroger carries it for an astonishing $2.79 in bomber bottles. At Taco Mac, a draft Hop Czar can be yours for around $5.
None of that would matter, of course, if the beer wasn’t really tasty: it is, a very credible imperial IPA of 7.5% by volume. So with all this said, I was pretty surprised when I saw a new Hop Czar had entered the market: Bridgeport Hop Czar Citra Dry-Hopped IPA.
Bridgeport, founded in 1984 in Portland, Oregon is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. As part of the festivities, they have rolled out a Hop Czar series, and Hop Czar Citra Dry-Hopped IPA is the first. Look for a second brew, Hop Czar Topaz Copper IPA, later this year. From the label:
This newest IPA in our Hop Czar series adds a decidedly American twist to a British original, combining the best of English and American ingredients. The complexity of the English malt is complemented by aggressive dry-hopping with Oregon’s Willamette Valley Citra hops, for this special transatlantic, full-bodied IPA with an intensely aromatic character.
I hadn’t seen Hop Czar Citra in six-packs until one afternoon when I walked into my local Kroger and they were marking it down before my very eyes (even though it had never made it to the shelf!). This isn’t the first time Kroger has done this, and hopefully it won’t be the last. The beer was only released in February, and I was buying it in early June, so I knew it was fresh. The shelf price was $9.49 (I later saw it in a liquor store for $7.99), but I got it for half off: $4.79. Oh, lucky day!
Hop Czar Citra is not an imperial IPA like the original version. It’s a standard IPA of strength 6.5% by volume and 60 IBUs. Let’s get down to brass tacks and try it, shall we?
Bridgeport Hop Czar Citra Dry-Hopped IPA pours to a brilliant orange amber color with a moderate creamy head formation and a nose just bursting with hop aroma. Taking a sip, you get this amazing juicy passion fruitiness with hints of green herbal, resiny pine needle notes in the aroma as you sniff. Some passion fruit, too is in the palate, and more of those tropical notes people talk about these days. Chewy caramel malt up front, then an intense resiny pine tar stickiness comes through at the last. No grapefruit like classic Hop Czar, just lots of resin and passion fruit. Really exceptional, a super hoppy showcase of the Citra hop.
Yes, this is some of the best 5 bucks I've ever spent for a six-pack. You may have to pay a little more, but with Bridgeport it should still be a good value. If you see it, buy it.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.