Westbrook Citrus Ninja Exchange

Westbrook Brewing Co.

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Citrus Ninja Exchange Double IPA

9% ABV

About a year ago, Westbook got a little hot and heavy with the guys at the Charleston Beer Exchange. Both were turned on by their mutual love for citrus-forward IPAs, and when their love was consummated, they birthed a beautiful – and delicious – bundle of joy known as Citrus Ninja Exchange. The Cascade single-hopped DIPA was stuffed with 50 lbs. of grapefruit, then dry-hopped four times. Needless to say, it was hoppy, juicy and heavy on the citrus.

Or so I’ve heard. The first born was a draft-only concoction that I never got to try. But this year, they got together again and gave that first brew a younger brother, this time with a simpler malt bill and a blend of American and New Zealand hops for Citrus Ninja 2.0.

Ninja pours a classic deep, hazy orange color. There’s about half a finger of head that disappears pretty quickly, as you’d expect a 9 percenter would. That’s coupled with some very nice lacing and alcohol legs.

If they were going for a citrus-foward beer, they achieved it in spades. The grapefruit wafts out of the glass as you’re pouring, and there’s just an epic grapefruit note on the nose.  It’s very astringent and a tad boozy. Just imagine sticking your face in a freshly cut grapefruit and inhaling. It’s like that, but with less pulp.

Tastewise, there’s a slight bitterness on the tongue and a medium mouthfeel. There’s sort of a syrupy sweetness and a New Belgian-esque bready maltiness to it. Of course, that’s all taken over by the gigantic explosion of grapefruit on the back. It seriously tastes like eating pure grapefruit. The alcohol burn on the middle and back of the palate are exactly what you’d get from a fresh grapefruit. There are also hints of other citrus – lime, lemon, orange – but it’s overwhelmingly grapefruit centric. There’s also sort of a pulpy aftertaste and a dry finish. The beer, in a word, is amazing.

Fruit- and citrus-forward IPAs are my favorite. They can have an aggressiveness and power to them, but still mellow nicely and become more enjoyable as your palate adjusts. Citrus Ninja is an assault on the taste buds, what with its huge tartness and astringency, but it’s one you just want to keep drinking. The flavor is full, lush biting, but just oh so damn good. Here’s to hoping this becomes an annual collaboration. 

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