Reviewed: Surly Wet 2018 (Citra)
Product description: Our wet-hopped pale ale returns. Fresh-picked Citra hops shipped straight from Yakima, used undried in the brew, pack a bright citrus and floral punch in this special seasonal beer. [Malt: 2-Row, Acidulated, Carafoam, Hops: 100% Citra for 2018, 6.1% ABV.]
Surly Brewing Co. – Surly Wet 2018 – 16oz can served in nonic pint – 6.1% ABV
My Top 3 Descriptors: Clean, Candy, Pineapple Juice
I’m sampling this year’s version of Surly Wet from a 16oz can that is less than a week old – ideal for wet or fresh hop IPAs. This year’s is 100% Citra, which Surly has done in the past. Last year’s, for instance, was made with wet Mosaic hops.
Into the glass, Surly Wet is crystal clear golden in color with ample, rocky white foam with excellent retention as expected. The aroma is just crazy. The first thing that comes to mind is a candy store. There’s so much sweet fruitiness that it creates a sensory overload and smells almost like pineapple gummy bears and green Jolly Rancher. Let it warm up a bit and the aroma comes into focus: crazy amounts of sweet pineapple juice like a can of Dole’s pineapple juice mixed into a cocktail.
A few sips in, the flavor profile is similar. Sweet pineapple juice is the centerpiece along with white grape juice concentrate. It’s a crazy amount of juiciness that makes me appreciate Citra hops on a new level. But the base beer is where Surly Wet shines in the details. Surly has perfected the vehicle to showcase these expensive, over-nighted wet hops. At its core, Surly Wet is a super clean, quenching, silky pale ale with thick graininess and a substantial mouthfeel that is heavier than you might expect. Most importantly, the beer has ample residual sugar to balance out the bitterness and bolster mouthfeel up to what I would call heavy-bodied for an IPA. Even though I’ve focused on the juicy character of the Citra hops until now, as you get further down in the glass, earthy to almost woodsy bitterness intensifies to a 6 or 7 out of 10 level. It’s not stinging or sharp, but rather well-integrated and highly enjoyable. Sweetness is at a 7/10, making this perfectly balanced albeit sweeter than some IPA lovers may be used to.
In the finish, Surly Wet is coating around the palate with a touch of lingering bitterness that leaves you begging for more. It’s the perfect example of a modern, bright IPA with all the best things we love about hops (big aroma, big juiciness) and none of the side-effects like astringency and harshness that plague so many on the shelves today.
I remember being floored the first time I tried Surly Wet in 2010 – at that time a very similar beer with both Citra and Simcoe wet hops. It was a beer way before its time both inside and out with the now trendy 16oz can format. With hardly any major changes since it debuted in 2009, Surly Wet is still state-of-the-art and the undisputed benchmark of this beloved IPA substyle. This has to be one of my all-time favorite IPAs.
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