Holding true to the new brand, the Flying Monkeys Brewery is experimenting with new hop varieties and new beer recipes. One of the most recent experiment that made its way around Ontario during Ontario Craft Beer Week was their Smashbomb Atomic IPA; a big IPA brewed with 8 hop additions! Yes, 8 is a lot of hop additions. Are there even that many steps in brewing? Somehow Flying Monkeys made it happen, and they produced a uniquely citrusy and earthy IPA that has thus far not been seen in Ontario.
One of the keys to this revelation is the use of a relatively new hop variety called Citra. My sources (the internet) seem to explain that Citra is a hybrid of 50% Hallertauer Mittelfruh, 25% U.S. Tettnanger, and a 25% combination of East Kent Goldings, Brewers Gold, and a few other varieties. What has resulted is a relatively bitter hop with aromatic flavors of citrus, peach, apricot, grapefruit, lychee, pineapple, and more tropical fruits. For the beerk geeks out there, the Citra hop has a relatively high alpha acid of 11%. If you don’t know what that means, you don’t wan’t to. So we have a pretty citric, fruit fresh hop going into the Smashbomb during the flavor additions. Awesome.
No, there’s no label on this sucker yet because it is still in a pre-production phase. No matter though, labels offer little if any flavor characteristics, and I am sure when it does hit shelves it will have something pretty wild on the front.
As a side note, I have to quote Peter Chiodo, who designed this beer: “Hops are to the Craft Brewer what insanity is to the artist.” Thanks for that one Peter, thats going to be a timeless classic.
I had actually had the pleasure of tasting the Smashbomb at two blind tastings run by the Flying Monkeys – the first we tried it at room temperature to best be able to evaluate all the intricacies of the flavor, and the second we tried it cold. So when I opened this bottle, I definitely made sure it was cold. At room temperature the overwhelming tartness and funk of the Citra proved to be uncontrollable, and unpleasant. But when cold, all those sensations where gone, and we were left with a very refreshing, and deliciously unique beer.
I poured the Smashbomb into a tall pint glass and immediately prepared myself to take some deep notes. The pour was smooth and easy for the first quarter, but every milliliter after that brewed a thick and luscious head that eventually lifted a good 2 inches above the beer. It was pure white with dense carbonation towards the bottom, and light airy bubbles to the top. The beer was a bright and rich amber orange with golden browns and shinning sunny yellow beams easing out of it. It was clean and clear and showed a terrific contrast between beer and foam (the haze in the picture is condensation, not the beers opacity).
The nose was quite pungent with a somewhat familiar scent of west coast hops, but was very unique on its own. It brought fast rushes of lemon rind, sweet citrus, bitter grapefruit peel, fresh earth, dried apricots, notes of pine and soft spice. Going back for another sniff and big bitterness was apparent here following the upfront power of citrus and lightly sweet tropical fruits. A hint of malt comes in the back with grain and fresh bread, but is relatively subdued in comparison to the hops.
Along with the Citra, Centennial hops were used, and the combination, and number of additions has created a richly complex array of aromas and flavors. It is immediately obvious when you go in for a taste as well. The first sensation is a cold and bitter wave of smooth hops that show a crisp, and very clean texture and no signs of sweetness. Seconds later though, and more so as the beer warms, big bright citrus fruit flavors make their way in and even show a great deal of lemony sweetness.
Although the hops are dry and crisp, the beer is smooth and creamy overall, which helps the bitter remain delicious and not devastating. Further into the beer earth, pine and a fresh resiny bitter begin to show themselves, and even give way to notes of cereal, and grainy malt. It touches biscuit, with a hint of warmth, but its cleaned away quickly by both a strong bitter swipe, and a powerful aromatic wave of hops. Pale malts do try to break through and show themselves, but this is a hophead’s beer, and it shows.
The complexity shown here is very unique to Ontario, and is an amazing step in the right direction. Grapefruit, pineapple, mango, lemon, lime, pine, earth, salt, grass and apricot are all present in this beer, and showcase this big bitter IPA quite well. I will be excited to sample the version that hits shelves, hopefully it is much the same as this. I would like to see a touch more malt flavor here, maybe an addition of Caramel 60 would round it out. But overall this will be an amazing addition to Ontario’s Craft Beer Lineup – well gone guys!