Kern River Citra Double IPA


Kern River Citra Double IPA



Most would agree that life changed for the three owners of Kern River Brewing Company (KRBC) when they won the gold medal for their Citra Double IPA at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver Colorado on October 1, 2011.

As someone who started as a home brewer at his Kernville home a good 10 years before KRBC opened in 2006, brew master Kyle Smith was particularly thrilled to shake Charlie Papazian's hand when he received the award. "It felt great to get the gold," Smith said. "It's an honor to win at that festival because it's the largest beer festival in the world. It was pretty awesome," he added. Smith, along with co-owners Eric and Rebecca Giddens with their baby daughter Maggie, were on hand to receive the award from Papazian, President of the Brewers Association and legend in the brewing world.

The Imperial IPA category is among the most competitive at the annual beer festival, with more than 100 entries received in 2011. Homebrewers and professional brewers alike looking to increase their medal wins know very well to stay away from this category as it's insanely over represented given the high interest in the beer style. Chances of winning are considerably lower than other categories. GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world, and had 3,930 beers vying for medals that year alone.

"The Imperial IPA category was one of the five toughest categories in the festival in terms of the number of entries; it is certainly one of the more coveted awards of the entire festival," said Eric Giddens in a public announcement about the award. "Needless to say we are extremely excited about the award and proud of Kyle for this amazing achievement."

KRBC's Citra Double IPA is one of the few beers that scores a perfect 100 on both Beeradvocate and Ratebeer. Keep reading and we'll show you how to brew it yourself, using a recipe and instructions that brew master Kyle Smith himself was gracious enough to make available.

Kern River Brewing Company original pubKern River Brewing Company original pub. Image (c)

Kern River Brewing Company original pubKern River Brewing Company original pub. Image (c)

The Kern River Brewing Company original pub brewery is just down the stairs from where the beer is servedKern River Brewing Company original pub brewery. Just down the stairs from where the beer is served. Image (c)

From its beginnings, Kernville has been a wild-west town. It is a small town of less than 2000 located 42 miles northeast of Bakersfield California in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Established as a mining settlement in the mid 1800's and continuing as a ranching community through the 1900's, Kernville remains a town of adventure, offering a wide variety of outdoor activities including white-water rafting, skiing, fishing, camping, mountain biking, and climbing. According to the Kernville Chamber, on any given weekend the town of Kernville can easily swell to between 20-40 thousand people, all of whom are looking for entertainment. This helped put Kern River Brewing Company on the map as Kernville's first brewpub.

Located just a few blocks from the tumultuous Kern River at 13415 Sierra Highway, KRBC serves up some of the best beers and pub grub in the Southern Sierras. They offer different beers to suit each season of the year, thus adding variety to the year-round offerings of Isabella Blonde, Sequoia Red, Class V Stout, and Just Outstanding IPA. During the heat of summer, you can stop in for one of their house-made root beer floats (or with their Class V Stout if you prefer) followed by a sampling of appetizers, burgers and brats. Be sure to stock up on a growler or two before heading back to camp!

Keeping the names of the beer local, providing a simple yet diverse menu and having a comfortable place where "everybody knows your name", Kern River Valley residents and visitors alike have helped made KRBC a success.

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Lineup at Kern River Brewing Company in Nov 2011, shortly after winning gold at GABFLineup at Kern River Brewing Company in Nov 2011, shortly after winning gold at GABF. Image (c)

Most likely due to this success, in May 2016 (almost exactly 10 years after opening) KRBC opened their new (larger) facility called the "backyard" that is directly behind the original pub. Beer at this location is brewed mostly for distribution and during the summer months they have a food menu and patio for patrons to hang out in and enjoy. We're told that the original pub will stay as it is and be used for small batches and experimental beers.

Outside the new KRBC backyard brewery and pub, first opened May 2016Outside the new KRBC "backyard" brewery and pub, first opened May 2016. Image (c)

Inside the new KRBC backyard pubInside the new KRBC "backyard" brewery and pub. Image (c)

Inside the new KRBC backyard pubInside the new KRBC "backyard" brewery and pub. Image (c)

Kern River Brewing Company brew master Kyle Smith in his new KRBC backyard breweryKern River Brewing Company brew master Kyle Smith in his new KRBC backyard brewery. Image (c)

Citra Double IPA, one of KRBC's seasonal beers, has definitely become a customer favourite since it won in 2011. It's a Double IPA that is hazy pale in colour with a strong pungent aroma that comes from large amounts of Citra hops sourced from Yakima Valley in Washington.

The Double IPA includes massive citrus and tropical/fruit notes with some background resin and citrus peel as well. Dankness is somewhat subdued and the beer is not overly bitter (for a Double IPA). This beer is often referred to one that is "liked by many that don't like IPAs, and loved by those that do."

The new KRBC backyard brewery allows for considerably larger batch sizes than the previous pub brewery setupThe new KRBC "backyard" brewery allows for considerably larger batch sizes than the previous pub brewery setup. Image (c)

Kern River Brewing Company Citra Double IPA labelKern River Brewing Company Citra Double IPA label. Image (c)

The beer label explains it well:

"This beer is all about the hops. Citrus, Mango and Pineapple aromas abound; but make no mistake, there is no fruit here, just a serious dry-hop regimen of Citra and Amarillo hops. We put in just enough malt backing to balance out the flavor, but Citra Double IPA is as close as it gets to chewing on a hop vine. Enjoy this one fresh - at least while you can get your hands on it!"

The alcohol content is 8%, so be careful as the smoothness makes this double IPA almost as quaffable as a regular 5% beer.

Six months after the GABF win, Kyle Smith (the brew master) joined Jamil Zainasheff's "Can You Brew It" podcast to discuss the beer in detail including the recipe and process used. The intent of this series of shows is to see if a commercial beer can be replicated. Tasty McDole (brewer behind the popular beer Janet's Brown Ale) attempted to clone the beer using the information provided and the result was a deemed a success by everyone who tasted both versions. The two were considered the same.

The recipe and brewing process instructions here are the result of scaling down the recipe and process as described by Kyle to a 10 gallon batch for brewing on my setup. For the most part this recipe exactly follows the original except for one change: Like Tasty, we moved the 30 minute hop addition to 0, with a 20 minute steep (which for us gives similar bittering results but with better flavour/aroma).

We recommend giving the podcast a listen as there's lots of good tidbits of information: Can You Brew It: Kern River Citra DIPA – The Jamil Show 04-23-12

The interviewers really know their stuff and always asked the right questions to really nail down the entire process from grain to glass. Well done! (The ingredients that go into a beer are only part of the story, process is important, as is equipment that can actually implement that process).

KRBC's 10th Anniversary celebration on June 5, 2016KRBC's 10th Anniversary celebration on June 5, 2016. Image (c)

Citra Double IPA is a truly fantastic beer by Kern River Brewing Company. Brew up a batch and let us know how you like it!

Passing through the Kernville California area? Stop in at KRBC and show your appreciation by picking up a growler or two. By supporting open minded brewer masters like Kyle and their breweries, we'll continue to see others willing to share their knowledge and passion about brewing, keeping it a win / win for all involved.


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Kern River Double IPA

Size: 12 US gallons (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Attenuation: 87.1%
Calories: 229 kcal per 12 fl oz
Original Gravity:
1.070 (style range: 1.065 - 1.085)
Final Gravity: 1.010 (style range: 1.008 - 1.018)
Colour: 6.3 SRM (style range: 86- 14)
Alcohol: 8% ABV (style range: 7.5% - 10%)
Bitterness: 70 (style range: 60 - 120)

20.5 lb Domestic 2-row mMalt (1.8-2L) (81.8%)
1.15 lb Carapils or Carafoam (1.4-2.9L) (4.6%)
1.15 lb Crystal malt (10L) (4.6%) 
1.15 lb Dark Munich malt (9L) (4.6%)
0.55 lb Honey malt (25L) (2.2%)
0.55 lb  Pale (or white) wheat malt (1.5-2.4L) (2.2%) 

1.5 oz Nugget hops (13.2%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min [30.9 IBU] 
1.5 oz Citra hops (14.1%) - added during boil, boiled 15 min [15.8 IBU] 
1 Whirlfloc tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
1.75 oz Citra hops (14.1%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min [15.4 IBU]
1.75 oz Citra hops (14.1%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min [7.7 IBU]

1.75 oz Citra hops (14.1%) - added immediately after boil 

Fermentis Safale US-05 dry yeast** (48g recommended or make an equivalent starter)

Dry hop: 

2.25 oz Citra hops (14.1%) - dry hop #1 (added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days)
1 oz Amarillo hops (9.4%) - dry hop #1 (added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days)
1.5 oz Citra hops (14.1%) - dry hop #2 (added to brite tank, steeped 9 days)
2 oz Amarillo hops (9.4%) - dry hop #3 (added to brite tank, steeped 6 days)
2.25 oz Citra hops (14.1%) - dry hop #4 (added to brite tank, steeped 3 days)

**If you prefer to use liquid yeast, Wyeast 1056 American Ale or White Labs WLP001 California Ale are excellent choices as they are the same clean fermenting Chico strain as US-05. You'll need ~775 billion cells [7-8 fresh packs] or an equivalent starter.

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Notes / Process

  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulfite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
  • Water treated with brewing salts to our Hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275 (Basically Randy Mosher's ideal Pale Ale numbers with slightly less sulfate). For more information on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
  • 1.25 qt/lb mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 148F for 120 mins.
  • Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
  • ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature).
  • Boil for 60 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. 
  • After boil steep for 20 minutes with the lid on. (No need to whirlpool, steeping is fine. Hop oil extraction is a function of contact time and temperature, not motion).
  • With the lid still on, cool the wort quickly to 67F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Oxygenate the chilled wort to a level of 14 ppm dissolved oxygen. For more information refer to our Aerating / Oxygenating Wort guide.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 67F (wort temperature). We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
  • Due to the high hopping rates and quadruple dry hopping the beer is very susceptible to oxidation. You have to be very careful to minimize all exposure to oxygen in order to preserve the hop flavours and aromas. Even hops themselves can have oxygen caught in their anatomy. Some hints:
    • If a vessel needs to be opened, purge the headspace with CO2 before closing.
    • Before adding hops to beer, place them in a tall container and flush with CO2.
    • Flush target vessels with CO2 before transferring beer. If hops are to be added at the same time (i.e. dry hop #2), add them to the vessel first.
    • Don't be stingy with CO2! CO2 is cheap. To flush vessels, growlers, kegs we have a separate bare gas line off one of our manifolds with its own shutoff. 
  • Add dry hops #1 once fermentation is nearing completion (i.e. 5 points from final gravity) and raise the temperature to 70-72F. We simply turn off the fermenting fridges and allow the beer to naturally rise to room temperature. Steep dry hops #1 for 3 days while fermentation finishes. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over ~3 days.
  • Add dry hops #2 to brite tank (we use 5 gallon glass carboys), purge with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup, then carefully rack in the beer on top of the hops. Allow to steep for 3 days at 70-72F room temperature. We do not recommend using hop sacks or other containers as you'll get the best flavour extraction from the hops if you let them roam free. For beers such as this that require multiple dry hop additions, some will dry hop in kegs using stainless steel dry hoppers, tying a piece of unflavoured / unwaxed dental floss to the lid to make it easy to remove (the floss is thin and doesn't impede the seal between the keg and keg lid). We don't recommend this approach as we find that the hops tend to clump together which in turn reduces oil extraction, requiring far too many hops to be used (and more beer lost to absorption).
  • After 3 days in the brite tank add dry hops #3. Leave previous hops in.
  • After 6 days in the brite tank add dry hops #4. Leave previous hops in.
  • After 9 days in the brite tank package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. We chill the kegs to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like all hop forward beers this Double IPA is best consumed fresh so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. Some hop bits will have invariably made their way into the keg during transfer so we use a Hop Stopper Keg Edition filter to ensure that hops do not clog the dip tube and/or end up in the glass. Force carbonating at high pressure and using a Hop Stopper filter allows us to serve this beer 24 hours after kegging. There's no need to wait a few days for any hop bits that made their way into the keg to first settle out.
  • We do not recommend using finings such as unflavoured gelatin as it may "round off" hop flavours / aromas.

For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.


Questions? Visit our Kern River Citra Double IPA forum thread


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Pictures / Videos

Interested in seeing what we're brewing right now? Follow us on Instagram for pictures and videos of our brewing activities as they happen.

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I’m easily distracted and boil overs happen quickly. To avoid this completely I always set my boil kettle to 208F (just below boiling) so that it holds there, and I also turn on an alarm. The panel then bring the boil to 208F, holds, and sounds the alarm to let me know it’s time to switch to 100% power and stir for a few minutes until the foam subsides. One of the many benefits of having both manual (% power) and automatic (temperature) in the boil kettle instead of just a dial type control. Also comes in handy for doing long hop stands at specific temps. Making Kern River Citra Double IPA. Recipe and complete brewing process on my website. ・ Parts, kits, and pre-assembled brewing products built in the USA. Guides to building and using your brewery. Tons of recipes! 👉 👈

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